This Date in Celtic Lore: April 18, 1962

Ultimately, you play to win THE GAME – ideally an everything-on-the-line Seventh Game.

And no one came out a winner more consistently in such games than the great Bill Russell … ten for ten.

Rough night for the Cooz
Check out the Hall of Famer’s AVERAGE performance for those 10 games (via in 48.6 minutes of PT, he’d score 18.6 points, grab 29.3 rebounds and be credited with 3.7 assists.

Russell’s most dominant Game 7 showing occurred in the very first series ever to pit the Celtics with the LOS ANGELES Lakers 58 years ago – and in both a game and series that Coach Auerbach’s boys seemed to be doing their damnedest to lose (and Frank Selvy had a chance to win in the closing seconds of regulation). [For historical clarity, Boston had rather easily dispatched a diminished Minneapolis Laker squad in the 1959 championship series, a four-game sweep.]

By losing Games 2 & 5 at home, the Celts had put their quest for an unprecedented fourth straight title into a 3-to-2 hole, but staged a second half rally to thwart an LA victory party in the sixth game to set up the Game 7 Garden Showdown on Wednesday April 18.

A still-physically-sound Elgin Baylor and hardly-jinxed-sophomore Jerry West combined for 76 of the Lakers’ 107 points – also 70 of their 108 FGA’s. But the rugged C’s won the rebounding battle convincingly (82-65).

For his career, Bill Russell was a 56 percent free throw shooter during his 963 regular-season outings, which he elevated to 60 percent in 165 playoff tilts. Russ’s FT accuracy improved to 70 percent (50-for-71) while competing in a Game 7.

1962 was the only post-season in which Bill faced two seventh games, as Wilt’s Warriors had also pushed the Green Team to an ultimate game in their final season before moving west – also the season the Dipper averaged 50 points a game. Mr. Russell converted 19 of 22 (.864) from the charity stripe under such extreme pressure.

In addition to his 10 “Sevens,” Russell & Co. faced Oscar Robertson’s Cincinnati Royals in a winner-take-all opening-round Game 5 in 1966. Against future teammate Wayne Embry, No. 6 tallied 16 points, snared 31 caroms and dished out 11 assists.

In total, a Russell team faced playoff elimination on 19 different occasions and were beaten but twice.