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Sports Then and Now

Remembering the Boston Celtics Comeback of 2008

Posted on October 11, 2017 by Aleksandra Udovenko

2008_NBA_Finals_–_Game_2It was without a doubt one of the greatest comebacks of all time. And that includes the incredible Liverpool comeback in the 2005 Champions League Final. In fact, it was so thrilling that even the most casual of basketball fans will probably be able to tell you where they were when the Celtics put in one of the most heroic performances the NBA has ever seen.

But first a little background.

It was 2008, and the Boston Celtics, with fresh recruits Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, had made it to the Championship Finals. They faced their age-old rivals the LA Lakers in what many neutrals billed as the Finals matchup of the century. The Celtics went into the Finals series as the record holders for most NBA Championships, yet it had been 22 years since their last win. The Lakers were second to the Celtics in terms of Championships won, but that didn’t stop them from being the favorites.

At home, the Celtics won Games 1 and 2 before heading to the Staples Center where the Lakers managed to win Game 3 81-87. The series was set up for a barnstorming Game 4, and the significance of the result cannot be understated. With the Celtics leading the series 2-1, a Lakers win would have tied the series and put a serious dent in the Celtics confidence. And in the first quarter, that’s exactly what looked like was happening.

The Lakers destroyed the Celtics in that first-quarter scoring, 35-14, which was the largest lead in a first quarter in NBA Finals history. Heads were down and the Celtics seemed to be out of ideas or perhaps it was just that the Lakers were simply breathtaking. The hosts continued their dominance right into the third quarter; at one point leading by 24 points. It looked like an insurmountable task. In fact, if tasks were mountains, this was Everest.

But credit to the Celtics. Although in that first quarter they looked lost, they rallied in the third quarter. From a losing position of 24 points down they scored 23-3 to bring themselves within two points of the Lakers. It was incredible and to say the home crowd was stunned is a gross understatement. Here was a team that was down and out like a lightweight boxer on the ropes against a heavyweight. But the Celtics ducked and weaved and never gave up.

By the time the Celtics’ reserve Eddie House made his 18-foot jumper with four minutes left, the crowd (and the Lakers) knew that they were witnessing something special. The Celtics remained in front for the rest of the game and won by 6 points, completing what was the largest comeback in the Finals since 1971. As far as comebacks go, it certainly was something special.

And this was no flash in the pan performance. The Lakers won Game 5, but Game 6 saw an incredible display from the Celtics as they won the series by winning the game 92-131. The 39-point winning margin was, in fact, the largest ever in an NBA Championship deciding game.

By the time the playoffs roll around next year, it will be a decade since that incredible comeback. And with BetStars giving the Celtics odds of 8/1 to win the championship, there’s a feeling we might just see the Boston side make history once again. Could we even see a replay of the 2008 Finals? Who knows, but we can wish, right?

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