The Celtics are no strangers to Game 7s. They are 20-7 overall in team history (and 17-4 at home) in Game 7s. Here is a look at the 10 most recent Game 7s in team history:
May 17, 1987: Celtics beat Bucks 119-113 in Boston
The Celtics overcame an eight-point deficit in the final six minutes and seemed to outmuscle the Bucks in Game 7 of the second round. They outrebounded Milwaukee 57-27 and held the Bucks to 0-for-9 shooting with two turnovers over the final 5:25. “What won the game,” said Larry Bird, “was our ability to keep the defensive pressure on them, even though they were ahead.” The Celtics moved on to play the Pistons in the East finals.
May 30, 1987: Celtics beat Pistons 117-114 in Boston
Less than two weeks after closing out the Bucks in a Game 7, the Celtics did it again to the Pistons in the East finals. Globe columnist Bob Ryan described it at the time as one of the greatest NBA playoff games ever played. The Celtics outlasted Detroit by outscoring the Pistons 36-34 in the final period, when the temperature inside the Boston Garden was 88 degrees. Boston went on to lose to the Lakers in the NBA Finals in six games.
May 22, 1988: Celtics beat Hawks 118-116 in Boston
Larry Bird, with 20 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter, outdueled Atlanta’s Dominique Wilkins, who had 47 points. The Celtics never trailed in the final quarter, but were pushed to the max by the youthful Hawks. “It took everything we had to beat them,” Bird said. The Celtics went on to the East finals, where they lost to the Pistons in 6 games.
May 17, 1992: Cavaliers beat Celtics 122-104 at Cleveland
In what turned out to be the final game of Larry Bird’s career, the Celtics were blown out to close this second-round series. The Celtics never led in the contest and trailed by 10 or more for the final 41 minutes of the game. Bird would retire after the season.
May 7, 2005: Pacers beat Celtics 97-70 in Boston
Fans at the FleetCenter booed the Celtics before the fourth quarter started after the Pacers separated themselves with a 21-9 run to close the third quarter. The first-round loss marked the final playoff appearance for the Celtics until 2008.
May 4, 2008: Celtics beat Hawks 99-65 in Boston
The Celtics held the Hawks below 20 points in each of the first three quarters and cruised into the second round. The Hawks led 3-0 early, but once the Celtics passed them at 4-3, they never trailed again. Paul Pierce scored 22 points.
May 18, 2008: Celtics beat Cavaliers 97-92 in Boston
Although they were outscored in the second half, the Celtics had built a big enough lead to withstand a 45-point onslaught by LeBron James and win the second round series en route to their 17th NBA championship. The Celtics defeated the Pistons in six games in the conference finals and the Lakers in six games in the finals.
May 2, 2009: Celtics beat Bulls 109-99 in Boston
The Bulls were within three with just more than five minutes to play, but the Celtics closed with a 20-13 run to clinch the first-round series. Ray Allen scored 23 points and Paul Pierce had 20 to lead the Celtics.
May 17, 2009: Celtics lost to Magic 101-82 in Boston
The Celtics’ reign as NBA champions ended in the conference semifinals after they lost the final two games of the series. The Magic outscored the Celtics by 14 in the final quarter.
June 17, 2010: Celtics lost to Lakers 83-79 in Los Angeles
In the deciding game of the NBA finals, the Celtics were up by 13 points in the third quarter, but Lakers star Kobe Bryant led Los Angeles back with 10 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter. The Celtics drew within two, 81-79, when Rajon Rondo hit a 3-pointer with 16.2 seconds left, but the Celtics failed to score again. “There was a lot of crying in our locker room, a lot of people who care,’’ said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “I don’t think there was a dry eye. A lot of hugs, a lot of people feeling awful. That’s a good thing. You know, that means everybody cared.”
Celtics vs. Sixers in Game 7s
The Celtics have played five Game 7s vs. the 76ers, but none since 1982. The Celtics lead 3-2 in Game 7s vs. Philadelphia.
May 23, 1982: 76ers 120, Celtics 106 in Boston in East finals
May 1, 1977: 76ers 83, Celtics 77 in Philadelphia in East semifinals
April 19, 1968: Celtics 100, 76ers 96 in Philadelphia in division finals
April 15, 1965: Celtics 110, 76ers 109 in Boston in division finals
April 5, 1962: Celtics 109, 76ers 107 in Boston in division finals