BOSTON — There were no tears shed or misty moments for the Boston Celtics who long ago knew that their season would end tonight.
As they officially shut the door on this transition season, the hurt of losing so many games is clearly balanced with the hope that better days are on the horizon.
The Washington Wizards jumped out to a commanding lead and kept the Celtics playing catch-up the rest of the night until the game - and Boston's season - ended with Boston losing 118-102.
Boston began the third quarter with an 8-0 run that brought them within 68-64.
But the Wizards responded with six straight to push their lead back to double-digits, 74-64.
Boston was able to chip away at Washington's lead, but every Celtic run was soon followed by a Wizards spurt that kept Boston at bay.
However, this night wasn't about winning and losing.
It was the final game of what has been a difficult season on so many levels for the Celtics.
They finished with a record of 25-57 which makes them one of the NBA's worst teams this season.
But to their credit, they gave their fans plenty of reasons to stick around most nights.
Boston didn't win many games, but they played a competitive brand of basketball that if there's one thing they would like to carry over into next season, that would be it.
"Consistency was our biggest challenge and I don't think our team was a great fit, a great mix," said Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations. "But individually I like what I saw in almost every player."
There was indeed growth throughout this roster, especially among the younger players who truly benefited from the opportunity to play more than they would have on a more seasoned, veteran team.
Chris Johnson arrived in Boston on a 10-day contract and parlayed that into a multi-year deal. Avery Bradley once again had his share of injuries to contend with, but his perimeter shooting has improved dramatically from where it was a year ago.
Kelly Olynyk was the Celtics' best player during the final week of the season.
He capped off his rookie season with 24 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists.
Even veterans like Brandon Bass showed progress, evolving from being a pick-and-pop shooter into the team's defensive anchor. He finished with 16 points on 7-for-9 shooting with 7 rebounds.
"I understand why I'm here and what got me here," said Bass, the winner of this year's Red Auerbach award. "All I want to do is keep getting better."
Alll of Bass' teammates have adopted a similar mindset.
And unlike past seasons, the Celtics will have more time than years past to get better so that the season won't come to an end with the regular season finale.
Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck has talked about there possibly being some "fireworks" this summer with the team which is loaded with draft picks and trade exceptions to where a blockbuster deal would not come as a shock to anyone.
"I don't know," said Ainge when asked about the team's plans for "fireworks" this summer. "We're hopeful. I have some ideas and some plans that I'd like to do but there's just no guarantee that we can do it."