This may be hyperbolic, but I'm guessing if you've ever touched or looked at a basketball, let along shot or dribbled one, your level of anticipation for Sunday's Game 7 probably will make your walk to the couch and remote feel like you are strolling through the pearly gates.
The Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers will meet in the most anticipated Game 7 in recent memory. Unlike the small handful of Game 7s over the last 30 years, Sunday will feature the two singular talents and personalities the league has to offer in LeBron James and Stephen Curry. The last Game 7 to feature stars of that magnitude will put a smile on the face of Celtics fans.
In the first of a Celtics/Lakers 80's trilogy, Boston defeated Los Angeles 111-102 in Game 7 of the 1984 NBA Finals. In a showcase of the league's two biggest stars, Larry Bird had 20 points and 12 rebounds in route to his first Finals MVP. The game is probably most remembered for Cedric Maxwell's performance. Telling his teammates to "climb on my back," Maxwell poured in 24-8-8, leading the Celtics to their 15th NBA championship.
This Sunday night, Cleveland will try to become only fourth team ever to win Game 7 of the NBA Finals on the road. The Washington Bullets were the last road team to accomplish the feat in 1978. The other two teams to win on the road were Celtic teams. In Bill Russell's final game as a Celtic player and coach, Boston defeated Los Angeles 108-106. Capped by the Don Nelson's miracle free-throw line jumper that bounced high off the back rim and through the hoop, Boston won their 11th title in 13 years.
Are those balloons still up in the Forum rafters?
In 1974, Boston's 102-87 Game 7 victory over a Milwaukee Bucks team led by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson gave Tom Heinsohn his first championship as head coach and first title after the Russell era.
Cleveland will also try to become the first team to win an NBA Finals series after dropping three of the four games. The 1966 Lakers were the last team to force a Game 7 after being down 3-1. LA was denied by (you guessed it) Boston. Despite missing a portion of the series with an injured foot, Russell carries the Celtics with 25 points and 32 rebounds as Boston won 95-93 in Red Auerbach's last game as Celtics head coach.
Sense a theme here.
Aside from winning 11 titles in the 13 years, the most fascinating factoids in Celtics history are centered around Game 7s of the NBA Finals.
Of the 18 previous incarnations, the Celtics have appeared in eight. Only the Lakers have appeared in more with nine Game 7 appearances. The Celtics are 7-1 while Los Angeles is 2-7. Boston also holds the record for the largest margin of victory in a Game 7: a 122-103 victory over the St. Louis Hawks in 1960.
In two of the greatest games ever played, Boston other victories in Game 7 only happen to be the only Game 7s to go into overtime.
In 1957, Boston won its first NBA Championship after a 125-123 double overtime victory over St. Louis. The Hawks missed multiple in-close shots in the final seconds to force triple overtime. After collecting 32 rebounds, rookie Bill Russell leaped in the air at mid-court when time expired as fans rushed the court to celebrate.
In 1962, LA's Frank Selvy missed a wide-open baseline jumper at the buzzer that would've given the Lakers the championship in regulation. The Celtics won in overtime 110-107 behind Russell's Finals record 40 rebound performance.
Enjoy Game 7 everyone, The Celtics sure have.
Photo Credit: Associated Press
Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PatBernadeau Patrick Bernadeau 6/18/2016 04:16:00 PM Tweet Edit