The 1985-86 Boston Celtics started the season 17-2, and then promptly lost five of nine. The low point of the season was the Christmas-Day Debacle against the New York Knicks, where the Celtics blew a 25-point lead on their way to a humiliating defeat.
Two days before that Debacle, Dan Shaughnessy called out the Celtics bench for underperforming. The bench fared no better on Christmas Day. But then something happened.
KC Jones started using the bench more and the bench started producing. No one is sure which happened first. A month later, Shaughnessy noticed the difference, lavishing the Celtics' reserves with high praise, from Bill Walton, Scott Wedman and Jerry Sichting all the way down to Rick Carlisle, David ThirdKill and Greg Kite.
This year the Celtics started out 27-2, and then promptly lost seven of nine, a slump that began with a tough loss on December 25th. An LA writer then called out the Celtics bench as nonexistent. Since then, the bench has slowly risen to the challenge, especially over the last two weeks when they have been playing like gangbusters. It is still too early to fully evaluate the second unit, but it may just be a Christmas Day defeat that the Celtics' reserves use as a rallying point once again.