The stars seemed aligned for the Phoenix Suns on Friday at TD Garden.
The 27-7 Suns entered their game against the Celtics with a chance to secure the NBA's best record by defeating a reeling Boston team on a three-game losing streak.
Phoenix also had a chance to make history: They had 88 total wins (regular- and postseason) in the 2021 calendar year as of Friday, and one more victory would tie them with the 1996 Chicago Bulls for the most wins ever in one calendar year.
- 1996 Chicago Bulls: 89 wins
- 2021 Phoenix Suns: 88 wins
- 2015 Golden State Warriors: 88 wins
- 2016 Warriors: 87 wins
- 2013 Miami Heat: 85 wins
That list will remain unchanged, though, as the Celtics pulled off a surprising 123-108 upset of Phoenix on the last day of 2021.
Even though they fell short, the Suns are in some remarkable company. The 2014-15 Warriors won the NBA Finals and tallied an NBA-record 73 wins in the following regular season, while the Michael Jordan-led Bulls notched 72 regular-season victories in 1995-96 en route to an NBA title and won another championship the following season.
Of course, Phoenix probably would sacrifice some of those wins for a title of their own: They lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2021 NBA Finals despite a 51-21 regular-season campaign, second-best in the league.
The Celtics are far from championship contenders with a 17-19 record, but Friday's win should at least give C's fans some optimism entering 2022.