Paul Pierce was drafted in 1998 by the Celtics and has remained with the team throughout the entirety of his 14-year career. However, as father time catches up with the C’s longtime captain, it appears as though President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge is ready to deal Pierce. (more)
Paul Pierce was determined to get the Celtics past the Raptors last night. The team leader dropped 39 points on Toronto scoring 9 of them in OT to seal the 115-109 victory by the Boston Celtics. Pierce played 49 minutes in Monday night’s game despite the fact that he had a bad knee due to a collision in Sunday’s game. Kevin Garnett added 20 points and 12 rebounds for Boston. The win was Boston’s 2nd in a row after losing 7 of 9 and put the Celtics at 31-9 on the year.
After playing 2 in a row against the Raptors, the Celtics will do the same with the New Jersey Nets. The Nets will play the Celtics at the TD Banknorth Garden on Wednesday 1/14 and the Celtics will travel to New Jersey for Saturday’s game with the Nets. Celtics tickets are available for these and all Celtics games both at home and on the road.
For the second straight game the Boston Celtics found themselves behind after the first quarter. The Milwaukee Bucks came out strong led by Richard Jefferson’s early 6-6 shooting performance but were unable to hold the lead before the half. The Celtics would finish the half up 55-47. Jefferson finished the game with 20 points for the Bucks.
Paul Pierce played a large part in the Celtics’ comeback last night. He finished with a team high 18 points with 10 rebounds added in. The win was the 5th on the year for the Celtics (5-1) who have held all six of their opponents under 100 points. Defense continues to win games for the defending champions.
The Celtics will play their next home game on 11/10 vs the Toronto Raptors at the TD Banknorth Garden. Celtics tickets are available for this and all Boston games.
As the final seconds ticked down on the clock during Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals, cries of “SEVEN-TEEN, SEVEN-TEEN” rained down from the TD Banknorth Garden. The Boston Celtics had done it; they’d beaten the Los Angeles Lakers 131-92 to capture their first title in 22 years and in doing so secured themselves a spot in history with some of the all-time great Celtics teams that were able to hang championship banners from the old Boston Garden rafters.
There will be a new banner hanging in Boston very shortly, and it may be the most meaningful one of all.
In the most dramatic turnaround in NBA history, the same Celtics club that was only able to win 24 games last season persevered to rise to the elite status that many are never fortunate enough to experience. Boston fans had long awaited for their teams return to glory and after last nights 48 minutes of dominating play, there is no question that the Boston Celtics are once again the best team in the NBA.
Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen can now join the long list of Celtics greats to have been able to win a championship ring with the NBA’s most successful franchise.
“It means so much more because these are the guys, the Havliceks, the Bill Russells, the Cousys,” Pierce said. “These guys started what’s going on with those banners. They don’t hang up any other banners but championship ones… And now I’m a part of it.”
A big part of it. Pierce was named the Finals MVP, a well deserved honor awarded to the Celtics captain and leader. During the series he averaged 21.8 points, 6.3 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game. Something that you won’t see in any box score is the job he did defending the regular season MVP, Kobe Bryant. On the series, Bryant was held to a 40.5% shooting percentage from the field which was well below his playoff average of 48% from the floor.
It’s almost unfair to call Tuesday nights match up “Game 6″ because it wasn’t a game at all. The Celtics coasted to a 39 point victory, which set a new NBA record for largest margin of victory in a clinching title game. The previous record had been a 33 point margin in Boston’s 129-96 win in Game 5 of the 1965 NBA finals vs., you guessed it, the Los Angeles Lakers.
Every member on the team was able to contribute in the victory which made it that much sweeter. Boston’s bench picked up 39 points shooting 57% (12-21) and every member that checked into the game scored at least 2 points in the win.
The starters weren’t so bad themselves. Garnett led the way with a huge night scoring 26 points and grabbing 14 boards in 36 minutes of play. Allen also dropped 26 points, nailing 7 of 9 three point shots he attempted. Rajon Rondo stepped up in the clutch scoring 21 points, hauling down 7 rebounds, dishing out 8 assists while collecting 6 steals for a very well rounded line.
Over the course of the game, Boston just continued to build on their lead. After the first quarter they led by 4 points, 24-20. They outscored LA 34-15 in the second quarter to increase their halftime lead to a commanding 58-35 margin. A 31-25 scoring advantage in the third quarter put the C’s ahead 89-60 entering the fourth quarter and Boston continued to bring the heat, exploding for 42 points in the final 12 minutes of play to round out the scoring at 131-92.
Some Celtics legends were even on hand to witness the one sided victory including Bill Russell, John Havlicek, Jo-Jo White, Tommy Heinsohn and Bill Walton. GM Danny Ainge sat courtside to marvel at the team he helped create with a few brilliant off-season trades and signings.
And somewhere, Red Auerbach watched as well, most likely with a victory cigar in his mouth, lighting up to the NBA’s greatest franchise ever. The Celtics victory also prevented Lakers head coach Phil Jackson from surpassing Auerbach in the wins column for total championships as a head coach. The two are still knotted at nine a piece.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers was nothing but smiles late in the game and Pierce made sure to let him know just how much he cares by dumping a cooler of red Gatorade over his head with very little time remaining on the clock, to symbolize that the game was over and they had done it, together. Early on in the season Rivers had called a team meeting and used an African word, ubuntu, which translates to “I am, because we are” in English, as the Celtics’ unifying team motto.
Last night was UBUNTU at its finest.
There will be no more question marks surrounding the careers of Pierce, Garnett and Allen. They three proved they have what it takes to win it all, and now they have rings to prove it. During the post-game celebration, Garnett hugged Russell in the center of the court, an exchange that will become just another part of the organizations rich history.
“I got my own. I got my own,” Garnett said. “I hope we made you proud.”
“You sure did,” Russell said.
Congratulations Boston Celtics, you are the champions of the NBA, and your city could not be more proud of you. With last nights victory, Boston’s 22 year quest for Green 17 is now complete and so begins a new journey… the road to repeat… Green 18!
The Boston Celtics rollercoaster ride of a postseason continued Thursday night as they overcame a 24 points first half deficit to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 97-91 in Game 4 of the 2008 NBA Finals. In one of the gutsiest team performances in Finals history, the Celtics were able to prevail over a hostile Staples Center crowd, the hometown officiating and a disgusting first half shooting display to pull out only their third road win of the 2008 playoffs.
In a game that for all intensive purposes should have been over at halftime, Boston was somehow able to find a way to dig down deep and come together for what could go down as the best come from behind Finals win ever.
“Some turnaround in that game. The air went out of the building,” said Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who was asked what he told his club afterward. “Well, it’s not over. This is not over. The series is not over.”
On paper, he’s right, the series is not over. Game 5 is scheduled for Sunday night at 9:00pm EST. However, no team has ever been able to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals.
All throughout the first half, the Lakers possessed a sense of urgency and attacked the hoop possession after possession. Lamar Odom, who had been a non-factor in the first three games of the Finals, provided an early spark hitting his first 7 shots and at one point was out scoring and rebounding the entire Celtics team.
At the end of the 1st quarter, the Lakers led 35-14.
The Celtics were able to make up a little ground in the 2nd quarter but a Jordan Farmar 3-point heave at the halftime buzzer killed any momentum the Celtics had established and they trailed 58-40 at the break.
Boston fans watching the game were disheartened. They knew that the C’s had lost a golden opportunity to steal a win in Game 3, and were now in the locker room trailing Game 4 by 18 points, on the road to Kobe Bryant and Co. Things just weren’t looking good.
And then something happened.
Maybe the water boys added a little something extra to their bottles for the 2nd half, but the Celtics team that came out of that locker room looked nothing like the rag-a-muffin bunch that had moped around the court for the first 24 minutes of play. This team looked inspired, as if it suddenly hit them that they have a once in a life time opportunity to do something special. They looked hungry with the need to feed, their only prey wearing yellow and purple.
Paul Pierce led the attack scoring 20 points, 14 coming in the 2nd half. He was fearless out of the court, demanding the ball in the right situations and creating for his teammates when his shot was not there. His play lifted the Celtics up and together they were able to cut the Lakers 18 point halftime lead to a 73-71 score by the end of the 3rd quarter.
The Elias Sports Bureau reports that the comeback was the largest in the Finals since 1971, and that before last night, no team had ever come back to win a game after trailing by more the 15 points in the first quarter.
Boston tied the score at 73-73 on a Leon Powe jump shot with 10:13 remaining on the game clock. It was the first tie since the game was knotted at 2-2, 28 seconds into the game. Each possession became more important than the previous and both teams tried to pick up their defensive intensity. For the first time in the finals, the officials finally took a step back swallowing their whistles, allowing both teams to play without ticky-tack foul calls.
Three times the Celtics would tie the game only to see the Lakers score the next possession to regain the lead. It wasn’t until Eddie House nailed a long jumper on the wing that the Celtics took their first lead of the game, 83-82 with 4:07 remaining in the action.
Boston would not trail again.
“It’s definitely a great win, one that you’re going to put up there in the library and break back out one day for your kids to watch,” Pierce said. “But I want nothing more than that ring right now.”
With the Game 4 victory, Pierce and the rest of the Celtics find themselves one win away from their first NBA Championship since 1986.
But honestly, did that win really happen? Did the Lakers manage to blow a 24 point lead, on their home court where they had yet to lose a home playoff game and been winners of 15 straight? Where was Kobe during “Kobe Time” late in the game? And did Brian Scalabrine’s hair get redder during the Celtics huge 3rd quarter run?
Seriously though, the comeback was amazing, but the collapse is the real story here. After a huge Game 3 win, the Lakers had a chance to even the series and really take the advantage because they would be able to host Game 5 with a chance to take the lead and put the pressure back on Boston.
One problem, they forgot to play basketball in the second half of Thursday’s game.
You can’t even say that LA choked because they simply stopped breathing. Had they gone to the emergency room, they would have been declared dead upon arrival. This team that had so much energy and life in the first half took their large lead for granted and it came back to ultimately kill them.
If this sounds all too familiar that’s because the same thing happened to the Celtics in Game 2. Big lead, sloppy play and lack of effort equaled a 41 point Lakers 4th quarter and a few near heart attacks by Bostonians watching the whole debacle.
The only difference between the two comebacks was that the Lakers made their run in the 4th quarter and merely ran out of time on the clock where as the Celtics pulled close in the 3rd, swinging the momentum their way to take over the game in the 4th.
Even Kobe couldn’t save this one for his team.
“They were determined not to let me beat them tonight,” said Kobe Bryant in a post-game interview. “I saw three, four bodies every time I touched the ball.”
Bryant still managed to score 17 points and dish out 10 assists in the loss, but was never really able to kick his game up a notch during crunch time, which is usually one of his many specialties.
The stage for Sunday’s Game 5 is set. For the Lakers it’s simply win or go home. The Celtics, on the other hand, will try to win the organizations 17th overall championship on the road. If they can’t pull out the victory in LA, they now have the luxury of returning home with not one but two chances (if they need them) to raise another banner in Beantown.
The 2008 NBA Finals were supposed to be all about the match ups. Who would prevail as the dominant leader, Kobe Bryant or Paul Pierce? Which big man would own the inside, Kevin Garnett or Pau Gasol? What sharp shooter would rain down perimeter shots, Ray Allen or Sasha Vujacic?
With Boston’s 108-102 Game 2 victory in the books, one match up the Lakers never saw coming was the explosiveness of Celtics’ reserve Leon Powe. In one of the most impressive performances by a bench player in the 2008 playoffs, Powe went off for 21 points on 6-7 shooting in only 15 minutes of action to help lead the Celtics to their second win and a 2-0 series lead over the Los Angeles Lakers.
Powe, who scored a total of 8 points in the Eastern Conference Finals vs. Detroit, made the most of his minutes and provided a huge spark off the bench in Sunday’s win. His performance may have instantly earned him the new title of fan favorite and Celtics broadcaster Tommy Heinsohn may just have to replace his famous “I love Waltah” saying with “I love Leon!”
Although the Celtics came away with an impressive win and head out to LA with a nice 2-0 cushion in the series, lots can be learned from the teams effort, or lack there of at times.
With 7:55 remaining in the game, the Celtics led by 24 points (96-73) and it appeared they would coast to another homecourt win. The purple and yellow jerseys scattered throughout the TD Banknorth Garden began turning around for the exits, probably hoping to catch the red eye back to LA. Over the next 7 minutes, the Lakers went on a serious tear, outscoring Boston 29-8 to make it a 2 point game with 38 seconds left to play.
“We’re happy because we won, but we definitely learned a lesson,” Paul Pierce said.
Aside from Powe’s impressive night, the Celtics were again led by Pierce who finished the game with 28 points and 8 assists. From behind the arc, Pierce was 4-4 on the night and didn’t look at all phased from his Game 1 knee injury. He made a key drive to the hoop with 23 seconds left to play in the game and was fouled hard. Once composed, he confidently stepped up to the line and nailed both free throws to secure a Celtics victory.
The Lakers comeback was too little too late but showed the Celtics that this series is going to be a fight until the end.
“We’ve got to play through the game for 48 minutes, and I didn’t think we did that,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “I thought we got cute when we got the lead.”
Call Rivers captain obvious, but if the Celtics plan on winning in LA, they will need to protect any lead they can get. The environment will be hostile, the calls will not be going their way, and lets face it, Kobe will not shoot as poorly as he did in the first two games of the Finals.
Bryant finished Game 2 with 30 points on an 11-23 shooting performance but did not come out of his shell until the 4th quarter where he dropped 13 points leading the Lakers comeback.
“We’ve come too far to really sweat being down 2-0,” said Bryant, who scored 13 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter. “We’re going to go home and handle our business.”
Looking at the box score, one stat that sticks out is the discrepancy in each team’s amount of attempted free throws. Boston got to the charity stripe 38 times compared to LA’s 10 attempts. For the Celtics, Powe actually had more attempts then the entire Lakers team, converting on 9 of 13 foul shots.
“I’ve never seen a game like that in all these years I’ve coached in the finals,” said Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who is going for his 10th title in 11 finals appearances. “Unbelievable.”
Well Phil, believe it. Your team is now in an 0-2 hole that only three teams have ever been able to come back from to win a championship (Boston in 1969, Portland in 1977 and Miami in 2006). Your fearless leader in Kobe Bryant has done nothing but cry to officials which may or may not cost him some of those hometown calls you’re hoping for. Not to mention you’re team is letting the likes of Leon Powe score on uncontested dunks and coast to coast drives. Nothing against Powe, he’s my boy, but come on!
So far, the NBA Finals have been nothing but business for Boston and they aren’t about to let a different time zone change any of that.
“We’re not settling on a 2-0 lead,” Garnett said. “We want to go out there and win two games in L.A.”
Game 3 of the NBA Finals tips off Tuesday evening at 9:00pm EST.
And so, for the Boston Celtics, their quest for GREEN 17 continues. Next stop: Los Angeles. The only thing left to be said…BEAT L.A.!