History is on the Celtics’ side entering Monday’s Game 7 against the Heat.
No team has won more Game 7s than the Celtics (27) and while they’ve played the most Game 7s in NBA history (36), they also have the highest winning percentage among all teams that have played in multiple Game 7s (.750).
The Celtics’ current group of stars has fared well in Game 7s, too. Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart are 6-1 in Game 7s over their careers while Jayson Tatum has gone 5-1 in Game 7s in his career.
One of those Game 7 wins came against the Heat just one year ago, when the Celtics defeated the Heat in the 2022 Eastern Conference finals. Monday is the sixth time in NBA history two teams will face each other in a Game 7 in back-to-back seasons.
Here’s a look at each of the Game 7s the Celtics have played.
1957 NBA Finals vs. St. Louis Hawks: Boston won its first of 17 NBA titles with a 125-123 double-overtime win. Long before his days as an announcer, Tommy Heinsohn scored 37 points and had 23 rebounds in the deciding game.
1959 Eastern Division finals vs. Syracuse Nationals: Five players scored at least 18 points and Bill Russell had 32 rebounds in the 130-125 win, helping Boston dvance to the Finals, where it won its second title.
1960 NBA Finals vs. St. Louis Hawks: Frank Ramsey scored a team-high 24 points while Russell scored 22 points and grabbed 35 rebounds in the 122-103 win for Boston’s third title.
1962 Eastern Division Finals vs. Philadelphia Warriors: Russell came out victorious in his first Game 7 against Wilt Chamberlain, scoring 19 points and grabbing 22 boards as Sam Jones pitched in 28 points in the 109-107 win.
1962 NBA Finals vs. Los Angeles Lakers: It took seven games plus overtime to determine the winner of the first Celtics-Lakers Finals matchup. Laker guard Frank Selvy missed a 12-foot jumper with five seconds left in regulation that would’ve won Los Angeles the title. Instead, the game went to overtime and the Celtics won 110-107 behind Russell’s 40 rebounds, tying his record for an NBA Finals game that still stands today.
1963 Eastern Division finals vs. Cincinnati Royals: Sam Jones scored 47 points, which is tied for the third-most in a Game 7 in NBA history, as the Celtics won 142-131. The win helped the Celtics reach the NBA Finals, where they won yet another title and helped send Bob Cousy into retirement as a champion.
1965 Eastern Division finals vs. Philadelphia 76ers: Jones stepped up big again, scoring 37 points while Russell grabbed 29 rebounds and had eight assists in the 110-109 win. But John Havlicek was the one that made a play for the ages, stealing a 76ers inbounds pass in the final seconds that clinched the game for the Celtics.
1966 NBA Finals vs. Los Angeles Lakers: The Celtics completed their eighth straight title-winning season by beating the Lakers, 95-93, in Game 7. Russell scored 25 points and grabbed 32 rebounds in Red Auerbach’s final game as a head coach.
1968 Eastern Division finals vs. Philadelphia 76ers: After losing to Philly in the season prior, the Celtics got their revenge with Jones scoring 22 points to go along with Russell’s 12 points and 26 rebounds in the 100-96 win.
1969 NBA Finals vs. Los Angeles Lakers: John Havlicek scored 26 points and Don Nelson made a desperation jump shot right before the shot clock expired to put the Celtics up three with just over a minute left. The Celtics won, 108-106, giving Russell his 11th title in his final NBA game.
1974 NBA Finals vs. Milwaukee Bucks: The Celtics won their first title without Russell with a relatively easy Game 7 win. They were able to slow down Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as Dave Cowens scored 28 points and grabbed 14 rebounds en route to a 102-89 win.
1977 Eastern Conference semifinals vs. Philadelphia 76ers: The Celtics lost their first Game 7 as World B. Free scored 27 points off the bench to lead the 76ers, 83-77.
1981 Eastern Conference finals vs. Philadelphia 76ers: The Celtics completed a 3-1 series comeback in dramatic fashion. Larry Bird scored 23 points, including a jump shot that put the Celtics up 91-89 with 29 seconds left. Philly’s Mo Cheeks split a pair of free throws, giving Boston a 91-90 win.
1982 Eastern Conference finals vs. Philadelphia 76ers: Philadelphia got revenge a year later, defeating Boston 120-106. Fans at the Boston Garden broke out the inaugural “Beat LA” chant in hopes the 76ers would defeat the Lakers in the NBA Finals. They didn’t.
1984 Eastern Conference semifinals vs. New York Knicks: The Celtics survived a second-round scare from Bernard King and the Knicks behind Bird’s 39-point performance in Game 7, winning 121-104.
1984 NBA Finals vs. Los Angeles Lakers: The first Larry Bird-Magic Johnson Finals culminated in a Celtics Game 7 win. Cedric Maxwell’s 24 points plus a steal with just over a minute left helped Boston hold off Los Angeles, 111-102.
1987 Eastern Conference semifinals vs. Milwaukee Bucks: Bird stepped up again, scoring a game-high 31 points as he played the entirety of the Celtics’ 119-113 win.
1987 Eastern Conference finals vs. Detroit Pistons: Two games after Bird’s legendary steal and Dennis Johnson’s game-winning layup that won the Celtics Game 5, the Celtics finished off the Pistons. They needed another full 48-minute performance from Bird, who scored 37 points, to win 117-114.
1988 Eastern Conference semifinals vs. Atlanta Hawks: This featured a head-to-head showdown of Bird and Dominique Wilkins, who traded buckets for much of the fourth quarter. Wilkins finished with a game-high 47 points, but it was Bird’s 20-point fourth quarter that lifted Boston, 118-116.
1992 Eastern Conference semifinals vs. Cleveland Cavaliers: Bird, dealing with back problems for much of the season and series, scored just 12 points in his final NBA game. The Celtics lost, 122-104.
2005 Eastern Conference first round vs. Indiana Pacers: The Celtics didn’t have much playoff success for more than a decade after Bird’s retirement. In their first Game 7 in 13 years, those playoff struggles continued as the Pacers routed Celtics, 97-70.
2008 Eastern Conference first round vs. Atlanta Hawks: The 66-win Celtics somehow found themselves facing a do-or-die against the 37-win Hawks. But the 29-win difference between the two teams showed with the Celtics cruising to a 99-65 win.
2008 Eastern Conference semifinals vs. Cleveland Cavaliers: Twenty years after the Bird-Wilkins battle, Paul Pierce and LeBron James had a similar clash. James scored a game-high 45 points and Pierce had 41, but Pierce made a pair of clutch plays at the end though to hold off a surging James. He dove for a loose ball after a jump ball in the final minute and got a lucky bounce on a free throw that helped the Celtics keep a two-possession lead en route to a 97-92 win. The win helped the Celtics continue their playoff run to their first NBA title in 22 years.
2009 Eastern Conference first round vs. Chicago Bulls: After five of the first six games were decided by one score (with four of those games going to overtime), the Celtics made sure not to have another tense battle against a young Bulls squad. Ray Allen scored a team-high 23 points to help hold off the Bulls 109-99.
2009 Eastern Conference semifinals vs. Orlando Magic: The Magic throttled the Celtics 101-82 with Kevin Garnett’s absence for the entire postseason being felt.
2010 NBA Finals vs. Los Angeles Lakers: The Celtics took the lead midway through the second quarter and led by as many as 12 in the third, but the Lakers chipped away at the lead before taking it midway through the fourth. Ron Artest hit a 3-pointer with a minute left that put the Lakers up by six, and the Celtics’ inability to grab a clutch rebound haunted them as it allowed the Lakers to seal a 83-79 victory.
2012 Eastern Conference semifinals vs. Philadelphia 76ers: Against the eighth-seeded Sixers, who upset the Bulls the round prior after Derrick Rose tore his ACL, the Celtics held a lead for much of the game before Rajon Rondo hit a pair of key buckets late, including a 3-pointer that helped give Boston an 85-75 win.
2012 Eastern Conference finals vs. Miami Heat: The Celtics went up 3-2 in the series against the Heat, but an all-time performance by LeBron James in Game 6 forced a Game 7. Still, the Celtics were almost able to pull of a surprise Finals run as they led by as many 11 points. After both teams traded the lead in the opening minutes of the fourth, James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh took over and scored the Heat’s final 31 points to beat the Celtics 101-88 in Ray Allen’s final game with the team.
2017 Eastern Conference semifinals vs. Washington Wizards: In what was the peak of the Isaiah Thomas-era Celtics, Boston won a high-scoring affair against John Wall, Brad Beal, and Washington. It was the first Game 7 of Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown’s careers, with each player scoring 13 and nine points off the bench, respectively. Kelly Olynyk stole the show, scoring 26 points on 10-of-14 shooting in the 115-105 win.
2018 Eastern Conference first round vs. Milwaukee Bucks: Down Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, the young Celtics took on ascending star Giannis Antetokounmpo. Terry Rozier and Al Horford both scored a team-high 26 points while Jayson Tatum scored 20 points in his first Game 7, helping the Celtics win 112-96.
2018 Eastern Conference finals vs. Cleveland Cavaliers: The young Celtics led by as many as 12, but James scored 35 points to help lift the Cavaliers past the Celtics and Tatum, who scored 24 and had an exciting four-quarter poster dunk on James, in the 87-79 win.
2020 Eastern Conference semifinals vs. Toronto Raptors: Playing in the NBA’s bubble at Disney World, the Celtics were able to knock off the defending champs, but not without some drama. After Grant Williams missed two free throws with 35 seconds left, Tatum charged in to get the offensive rebound and made one of two free throws to give the Celtics a three-point lead. Fred VanVleet missed a potential game-tying shot with 12 seconds left, giving Boston a 92-87 win.
2022 Eastern Conference semifinals vs. Milwaukee Bucks: In what’s been termed by Celtics fans as “The Grant Williams Game,” the Celtics forward was left wide open from 3-point territory. He made the Bucks pay, making seven of them to score a game-high 27 points in a Celtics blowout, 109-81.
2022 Eastern Conference finals vs. Miami Heat: After Boston went up 98-85 with 3:35 left, Miami scored 11 straight points and nearly took the lead when Jimmy Butler pulled up from 3 with 16 seconds left. But his shot didn’t fall, allowing the Celtics to win, 100-96.
2023 Eastern Conference semifinals vs. Philadelphia 76ers: Jayson Tatum scored 51 points, breaking the record Steph Curry set two weeks prior for the most in a Game 7. Tatum’s scoring outburst allowed the Celtics to cruise to a 112-88 win.
Conor Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.