The Boston Celtics will play their 30th Game 7 on Monday night when they host the Washington Wizards at TD Garden in the finale of their second-round NBA playoff series.
Boston has the most Game 7 wins (21) and the best Game 7 win percentage (.724) in NBA playoff history.
Before the Celtics and Wizards write another chapter in Game 7 lore, let’s take a look at the five-best Game 7 victories in C’s history.
1984 NBA Finals
The first championship battle between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson arguably is the best NBA Finals ever. The Celtics prevailed in Game 7 at the old Boston Garden, led by former playoff MVP Cedric Maxwell’s team-high 24 points.
1969 NBA Finals
The Lakers had a full postgame celebration planned. The USC band would play, the balloons in the rafters would fall down, and legendary announcer Chick Hearn would interview Lakers superstars Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor.
Once Celtics player/coach Bill Russell found out, he told his team. It served as motivation for the Celtics, who capped their 13th title in 11 seasons. Russell retired as an 11-time champion.
1962 NBA Finals
Russell led the Celtics to their fifth championship by scoring 30 points and pulling down 40 (!) rebounds in Game 7.
1988 Eastern Conference Semifinals
The duel between Bird and Dominique Wilkins might be the best one-on-one showdown in playoff history. Wilkins scored a game-high 47 points, but Bird outscored him down the stretch (34 points overall) to help the Celtics escape with another series win.
After a fourth-quarter score by Bird, Brent Musberger gave one of his most famous calls, “You’re watching what greatness is all about.”
1981 Eastern Conference Finals
The Celtics earned their first trip to the NBA Finals of the Bird era with a Game 7 win to complete a comeback from 3-1 down in the series. Bird’s late fourth-quarter basket, which legendary Celtics announcer Johnny Most described as “stop-and-pop off the glass, it’s good!” became one of the most memorable moments in the Hall of Famer forward’s early career.
Honorable Mention: 1987 Eastern Conference Finals
This was the finale to one of the most exciting and physical playoff series in league history. The Celtics and Pistons hated each other, and it produced seven memorable games in the spring of 1987.
Thumbnail photo via Bob Donnan/USA TODAY Sports Images