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If the Celtics had any hope of making a surprise playoff run, it was lost when they began the New Year with a disconcerting streak of nine consecutive Ls.
Boston went into a New Year's Eve tilt with the Atlanta Hawks standing at a mediocre but respectable 13-17. That's a .433 win percentage, just a few points below the currently eighth-place Hawks (.449) and above the ninth-place New York Knicks (.423).
Unfortunately, the Celts couldn't overcome a superstar performance from Paul Millsap, who dropped 34 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and dominated Boston's weak defensive front line.
They fell 92-91, at home and the wheels simply fell off from there.
They embarked on a brutal stretch that featured games against the Chicago Bulls, Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers among others, and they were uncompetitive in almost every game.
The C's held tough in Los Angeles and Oakland against the Golden State Warriors, but they were hammered by the Thunder, Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets, who won 129-98.
There were certainly some bright spots during the stretch, but overall it was made clear that Boston simply did not have the talent to compete with the league's top squads.
Boston didn't secure another win until Jan. 13, when Jared Sullinger's 25-point, 20-rebound night simply overwhelmed the Toronto Raptors.
By that time, though, the C's were 14-26, and it became increasingly hard for them to rationalize trying to compete just to wind up being slaughtered by the Miami Heat or Indiana Pacers.
During that time period, right after the third straight defeat, Boston decided to ship out Courtney Lee and his long-term contract for the shorter deal of Jerryd Bayless.
Bayless has had some moments as a heat check scorer for the C's, but Lee was having an excellent shooting season and was a much-needed defensive presence.
Boston needed to preserve cap space, and what good would an expensive veteran be on a team so far away from playoff relevance?
The move clearly indicated the direction the front office wanted to head, and their next trade pretty much ended any hope for a memorable 2013-14 campaign.