Looking back on May 7, 2010: the last time Celtics and Bruins lost playoff games on same day

Alex Reimer
May 01, 2019 - 10:01 am

Tuesday was one of the darkest Boston sports days in recent memory, which speaks to how good we’ve had it around here. The Celtics and Bruins both lost playoff contests on the same night for the first time in nearly a decade, giving young fans a brief taste of what sports disappointment looks like.

The last time this happened was May 7, 2010, when the Celtics fell to the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals and the Bruins lost to the Flyers in the second-round of the NHL playoffs. The former was just a blip on the proverbial radar, as the Celtics’ ousted Cleveland and advanced all the way to Game 7 of the NBA Finals –– where they blew a halftime lead to the Lakers. 

The Bruins, meanwhile, dropped three more games to Philadelphia, becoming only the third team in NHL history, and first club since the Islanders in 1975, to blow a 3-0 series advantage.

It was an entirely different world in the spring of 2010: Donald Trump was still hosting his cheesy reality show on NBC, and President Barack Obama was publicly opposed to same-sex marriage. The Patriots were stuck on just three Lombardi Trophies. 

The immediate future looked most promising for the Celtics, who were just two years removed from winning their first (and only) championship of the “New Big Three” era. Kevin Garnett missed the previous postseason due to injury,  but was back and dominating. The Celtics would’ve almost certainly beaten the Lakers in the Finals, if Kendrick Perkins could play in Game 7 or his replacement, Rasheed Wallace, didn’t dry-heave up the court in the second half. 

But the Cleveland series was about five weeks before that happened, and the Celtics once again took care of business against the LeBron James-led Cavs. It was LeBron’s second playoff loss to the Celtics in three seasons, affirming Boston as the team to beat in the East. James did eventually jettison the Celtics two years later, when the star-studded Heat outlasted them in a wild seven-game Eastern Conference Final.

In that respect, May 7, 2010 offered a glimpse to the future, as LeBron exploded for 38 points at the TD Garden in a 124-95 Cleveland win. It was the first time James had destroyed Paul Pierce in an one-on-one matchup, embarrassing the Truth on his home floor.

While that night was the beginning of LeBron’s playoff awakening, it was the beginning of the end of the Bruins’ Stanley Cup hopes. Tuukka Rask allowed five goals in the 5-4 overtime loss and was a mess for the rest of the series. His early career postseason failure has set the narrative for the rest of his career, with some Bruins fans inexplicably blaming the goal-tender for nearly every subsequent playoff loss over the ensuing nine years.

Even though the events of nine years ago were an anomaly, they were prescient to the Celtics’ and Bruins’ fortunes over the following seasons. Time will tell if the Blue Jackets and Bucks carry the mantle from Tuesday, or if order is restored to the Boston sports universe.