Today marks 27th anniversary of legendary Bird/Dominique showdown
Whoever chose to watch the Rockets/Warriors game last night were able to experience a thrilling, down-to-the-wire bout between top two MVP candidates James Harden and Stephen Curry. Those who tuned into the Celtics/Hawks game 27 years ago today were witness to a similarly competitive matchup; I am referring to the Game 7 duel between legends Larry Bird and Dominique Wilkins.
On May 22nd, 1988, the Celtics ended the Hawks' playoff run at home in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The contest was tight throughout, and the Celtics' largest lead came towards the end of the game at 112-105. Wilkins and company played hard until the last whistle, and the final score read 118-116 in favor of the Celtics. 'Nique lead his Hawks to the tune of 47 points, 5 boards and 3 assists and shot 19-33 from the floor. Bird was brilliant as well, scoring 34 points with 4 rebounds and 6 assists. What was most impressive about Bird's performance, was that he scored 20 of his 34 in the 4th quarter alone.
Bird and Wilkins both had monstrous outputs, but because of their dominant performances, the contributions of the role players are easily and understandably overlooked. Celtic legend Kevin McHale had himself a game, notching 33 points with 13 boards and 4 blocks, and our fearless leader Danny Ainge recorded a double-double with 13 points and 10 assists. On Atlanta's side, Randy Wittman (yes, that Randy Wittman) scored 22 points on 11-13 shooting from the field, and our old friend Doc Rivers put up 16 points, 5 rebounds and 18 assists.
Although it wasn't Game 7 of the Finals or even the Conference Finals, the back-and-forth offensive output from these future Hall-of-Famers made for what is still considered today as one of the great playoff face-offs in NBA history.