Another Lucky 7 for the Celtics?
As the faithful readers of this blog know. every now and then we take the conversation away from baseball. Tonight, we have Game 7 of an epic Celtics-Bulls Series at the TD Banknorth Garden. I’m not sure you could have a more competitive, exciting playoff series than this. Throw away Game 3, and every game has been epic.
Anyway, Game 7 at home brings back a lot of great memories. Here is a look at the last quarter-century of Celtics Game 7’s in Boston.
1984 Eastern Conference Semifinals, Celtics vs. Knicks: With constant cries of MVP from the packed house, Larry Bird puts on what had to rank as one of his top five performances of all-time. The Bird man scored 39, and I believe also had a triple double. Just a breathtaking performance and this game was never close.
1984 NBA Finals, Celtics vs. Lakers: Cedric Maxwell: “Jump on my back, boys.”. The Max Man lived up to his word, scoring 24 points, grabbing a bunch of rebounds and devouring the Lakers in side. Dennis Johnson also had a huge game. Danny Ainge gave them a spark off the bench with some big outside shots. Bird put it away with four free throws in the last minute or two. It was a great ending to a classic Series.
1987 Eastern Conference Semifinals, Celtics vs. Bucks: Much like the ’09 edition, the Celtics were battered during this playoff run. McHale was playing on a broken foot, Parish was playing on a badly sprained ankle, Walton was pretty much out of the mix at this point with a cracked bone in his foot. But Larry Bird was healthy and in his prime. The lasting memory of this game is Parish and McHale, despite their injuries, getting one offensive putback after another. And DJ made the play of the game with about two minutes left, chasing down Parish’s block and jumping out of bounds as he threw the ball off Jack Sikma. Boston ball, Boston’s series. The Celtics were down 8 in the fourth quarter. With Danny Ainge hobbling off with a leg injury, Jerry Sichting hit a couple of key hoops in the fourth.
1987 Eastern Conference Finals, Celtics vs. Pistons: Sort of the last hurrah of greatness in the Bird era if you think about it, as this victory punched the last ticket to the Finals for that storied group. Speaking of Bird, he was simply magnificent, going for 37 points. Still, the Pistons wouldn’t go away, even after Vinny Johnson and Adrian Dantley head-butted each other early in the fourth quarter, forcing the exit of two key Detroit players. Key sequence of the game came with about three minutes left when the Celtics got maybe five offensive rebounds on the same possession and Danny Ainge banged out a 3 to finish the possession. The Pistons were pretty much done after that. Unfortunately, they would get their revenge the next year.
1988 Eastern Conference Semifinals, Celtics vs. Hawks: Yes, we all know about the duel between Bird and Dominique. But this game was so much more than that. This was pretty much a two-point game from the opening possession on. Just a classic game in every way. Bird had done nothing in the first three quarters, scoring 14 points, and hitting the front rim on several outside shots. But he literally came out of the phone booth in the fourth quarter, going 9-for-10, and just willing some of those shots. His three from the left side made it 112-105 Boston with about two minutes left. But the Hawks hung in, until Bird finished them off by, as Johnny Most screamed, “Going right to left with a left-handed scoop shot!”. Bird completely deked Dominique on the play, and coasted to the basket uncontested as the shot clock expired. This is when Brent Musberger hollered, “You are watching what Greatness is all about.”
2005 Eastern Conference quarterfinals, Celtics vs. Pacers. Can we just forget this game ever happened? Just an embarrassing letdown by the Celtics. Simply awful.
2008 Eastern Conference quarterfinals, Celtics vs. Hawks. A complete clinic of Celtics defense. KG manhandled the Hawks all day and this game, other than maybe 2-0, was never close. This series should have never gone seven.
2008 Eastern Conference seminfinals, Celtics vs. Cavs. This is right up there with the Bird-Dominique game. Just two teams who played their hearts out, and two superstars who all but refused to lose. PJ. Brown hit a huge jump shot to help seal the win. The signature moment was Pierce cradling a loose ball on the floor, and then his wobbly free throw that he thought “Red might have put in”. Lebron had nothing to be ashamed of in this one. The Celtics were the better team and Paul Pierce somehow matched his heroics.
Just about game-time. Chime in with any Sox or Celtics-related comments tonight.