The Boston Celtics have arguably the richest history in the National Basketball Association, as shown by their record 17 championships.
With a rich history comes many epic playoff moments and nothing is more epic then a game seven! The Celtics are set to take on the Washington Wizards in game seven of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Monday night, which will only add to this great history.
This game will mark the first game seven of Brad Steven’s coaching tenure, so we’ll look at the game seven history of the man he replaced – Doc Rivers – as the opening tip approaches.
2005 First Round: Indiana Pacers 97, Boston Celtics 70
A lot of fake Celtics fan just jumped on the bandwagon once Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen showed up. If a person is unaware that Doc Rivers actually coached Boston to the postseason before the “Big Three” era, that’s probably a pretty good sign that they are one of these fake fans. And this game was at home too! This embarrassing 27 point loss was on the floor of the Fleet Center, which means that Rivers coached the Celtics into position where they had home court advantage in the playoffs before assembling the big three. This was Antoine Walker’s final game with the Celtics after Ainge re-acquired him at the trade deadline that winter and he led the team with 20 points on a respectable 8-for-17 (47.1%) shooting and a 2-for-4 (50.0%) clip from beyond the arc. Paul Pierce had a solid game of his own with 19 points, but nobody else stood out after that. Their other three starters – Gary Payton, Delonte West and Raef LaFrentz – were a combined 5-for-19 (26.3%) shooting; the bench didn’t add much either.
2008 First Round: Boston Celtics 99, Atlanta Hawks 65
Game seven of this series kind of proved that any fear of the 37-45 Hawks topping the 66-16 Celtics in the first round was a joke the entire time. Boston came out an absolutely flattened Atlanta, who didn’t eclipse 20 points in a single quarter until getting a garbage time boost during the final frame. The Hawks shot 29.3% as a team in this one and that’s about all you need to really know. That Doc Rivers defense was working just fine in this one!
2008 Eastern Conference Semifinals: Boston Celtics 97, Cleveland Cavaliers 92
This game tells you everything you need to know about how bad LeBron James had it in terms of the talent around him during his first stint with the Cavaliers. He scored 45 points in this one and did everything in his power to push Cleveland over the top, but Paul Pierce had a gem of his own with 41 points and the rest of the guys on the Celtics were just better than the rest of the guys on the Cavaliers. This Pierce-James battle will go down as one of the best one-on-one game seven duels in NBA history.
2009 First Round: Boston Celtics 109, Chicago Bulls 99
Chicago pulled out an epic triple overtime win just to stay alive in game six and even led by five points after the first quarter of game seven, but the defending champions eventually got their act together and advanced to the second round. Ray Allen scored 23 points, Paul Pierce added 20 of his own but the spark plug for Boston was Eddie House coming off the bench. House went a perfect 5-for-5 from the field – including four three pointers – as the Celtics pulled ahead in the second quarter and eventually held on for the win. Kendrick Perkins added a 14 point, 13 rebound double-double.
2009 Eastern Conference Semifinals: Orlando Magic 101, Boston Celtics 82
A lot of people – including Paul Pierce himself – insist that the 2009 Celtics were the best team during the Doc Rivers-era, but they just had injuries catch up to them. It’s pretty well known that Kevin Garnett wasn’t available to Boston during this playoff run, but a lot of people forget the backup power forward Leon Powe was also injured as well. This is why a beloved human victory cigar like Brian Scalabrine went from never appearing in a single game during the 2008 playoff run to averaging 20.5 MPG during the 2009 postseason. The Celtics had found random ways – including the well known Glen Davis buzzer beater – during this series just to stay alive, but it all came crashing down as almost nobody had a good showing in game seven. Paul Pierce went 4-for-13 (30.8%) from the floor and their leading bench scorer was Stephon Marbury with a grand total of four points; this was his final NBA game.
2010 NBA Finals: Los Angeles Lakers 83, Boston Celtics 79
This game mimicked the entire series. The Celtics scored 96 points in their game five victory and that was the highest total by any team over the final five games, so it was clear that this series was all about defense. Kobe Bryant went 6-for-24 (25.0%) from the floor in this one and he was 0-for-6 from three. His “killer” instincts were nowhere to be found in this crucial game seven but the Lakers were still able to grind out a win in this defensive dominated affair. However, Ron Artest unexpectedly became the killer in this one. He played a game high 46 minutes, scoring 20 points and knocking down a dagger three with 1:01 left to put the Lakers up by seven.
2012 Eastern Conference Semifinals: Boston Celtics 85, Philadelphia 76ers 75
Paul Pierce fouled out of this game with 4:16 remaining and the Celtics were only leading by three points at the time, but Rajon Rondo then did the least Rajon Rondo thing ever and put on a mini-jump shooting clinic. The talented guard – who was never known to be a shooter – scored the game’s next seven points after Pierce fouled out, including a deep two from 22-feet out and a three pointer. Elton Brand would finally end that 7-0 run with a bucket of his own but Boston’s All-Star point guard would get to the line and knock down two free throws on the very next possession to really help put the game out of reach.
2012 Eastern Conference Finals: Miami Heat 101, Boston Celtics 88
You can argue that LeBron James became LeBron James in game six of this series when he dropped 45 points in a blowout at the TD Garden just to force a game seven. Nobody really gave the Celtics that much of a chance going back to Miami for the seventh game and the final score looks pretty bleak, but Boston did lead 53-46 at the half before a collapse in the final 24 minutes eventually determined their fate. Rajon Rondo scored 22 points while adding 14 assists and ten rebounds, leading the team in all three of those categories. Ryan Hollins scored the team’s only two bench points, which was an area where the team had struggled all series long.