Almost a decade later: Looking back on the 2008 championship

By the time the playoffs roll around next year, it will have been a whole decade since we last won the Championship. It was quite a series and one that will remain etched in the memories of even the most casual Celtics fans. And as we approach the ten-year anniversary, it seems like the right time to look back on what was one of the greatest championship wins in our history.

Prior to the 2008 finals, it had been 22 years since we had last tasted glory; too long for many Celtics fans of 2008 to even remember. The legend that was and still is Larry Bird led us to glory during that 1986 series, dismantling the Houston Rockets and earning himself the MVP for the year. It was a glorious win and was supposed to signify the start of a period of glory, but instead, it was the start of a barren spell that spanned over two decades.

But enough of the negativity. This year, BetStars has us as the third favorite at 8/1 odds, and we're liking that positivity. There's confidence in this squad, and with the obvious talent we have, there is absolutely no reason we can't go on to win the championship. And if coach Brad Stevens is looking for any inspiration, he need only remind the players of the impending anniversary. No pressure, of course.

The 2008 Championship marked the first time we made it to the finals since 1987, which still feels incredible, considering we went into that series as the team with the most championships of all-time. And we went up against the Lakers who at the time were the second most successful team in history. For Celtics fans, it was the finals series we’d dreamed about; for neutral fans, it was the best possible match-up.

We’d already faced the Lakers in the finals on ten previous occasions, winning eight and losing twice. And although we were defeated by the Lakers in our last finals in 1987, there was a good feeling with Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett having joined the ranks that we could, at last, vanquish our rivals.

With home advantage, we won the first two games 88-98 and then 102-108 before the Lakers took the third game at the Staples Center 87-81. But even though the series was eventually won in Game 6 back in Boston, it was Game 4 in LA that most fans know really made the difference.

Trailing by 35-14 after the first quarter (the largest first-quarter lead in NBA Finals’ history), things looked bleak for the Celtics. In fact, they looked even worse later with the Lakers leading by as many as 24 points in the third quarter. Then came the comeback. We scored 21-3, taking us to within two points of the Lakers before taking the lead with only four minutes left on the clock. Reserve Eddie House made an 18-foot shot that put us in front and heralded the greatest comeback since the 1971 Finals.

The Lakers took Game 5 by 5 points, but by that stage, confidence was high in our camp and we knew that we could take them back in Boston. In Game 6, which was quite a story in itself, our winning margin of 39 points was the largest in an NBA Championship deciding game. We pretty much steamrollered the Lakers in that game, making the win all the sweeter. Winning Game 6 92-131 was certainly the icing on the cake, but it somewhat overshadowed the incredible comeback in Game 4 that set us up for the win.

And while many fans will rightly remember that incredible final performance to win the Championship, the heroics of Game 4 really cannot be understated. Had we lost that game by such a margin, heads would have gone down, and the legs would have been kicked out from under the entire team. But that comeback against such insurmountable odds was surely a catalyst for the Game 6 victory. Sure, we lost Game 5, but we could afford to at that point. So, celebrate the win and remember Allen and Rondo’s performance in that last game. But never forget that it was that comeback of the ages that made it all possible.