The Boston Celtics just pulled off the greatest heist in NBA history. Well...not literally.
Among others, some will spot similar efforts by Kobe Bryant's Lakers in recent years against the Mavericks as the best. But, the Lakers were on home court that night.
Up 3-1 in the series, regardless of what happens in Game Five, the Celtics will return to the TD Bank North Gardens with the loot.
At the conclusion of the first quarter, the Celtics had set an NBA Finals record for the largest deficit (21 points), and found themselves losing by more points than they had scored. Finals announcer Mark Jackson noted that they were behind in every aspect of the game.
The trend continued into the second and third quarters, where the Celtics, who wandered away from the team defense that got them into the Finals, were down by 24 and 20 points respectively.
However, they dug deep, got back to defense, and along with 35 big points from Doc Rivers's bench, the Celtics outscored the Lakers 31-15 in the third quarter to pull within 73-71 going into the fourth. The green and white never stopped believing.
From the looks of determination, and the body language of the Celtics' Big Three, I sensed that this was going to be a special night. If Boston could do the unthinkable and pull this off, then they would have a stranglehold on the series. No team has ever come back from a 3-1 deficit.
Beantown's boys had caught up with LA at 73 when Leon Powe's jumper fell with 9:05 left in the fourth, knotting the score for the first time since 2-2 in the first minute.
A confused but confident Phil Jackson at the end of the third looked on in shock! The C's finished his team off fueled by Eddie House, who made clutch shots playing more minutes because of Rajon Rondo's shooting inconsistencies and sprained left ankle.
The Celtics had done what the Lakers had failed to do—come back from 24 points down to win on the road. The larceny was complete. One can only speculate in which game the Celtics will win their 17th NBA championship. Considering the odds, it will happen.
Notes—No post game injury report was available for Celtics' forward Kendrick Perkins, his second injury in the finals, at the time of publishing. Other bench players James Posey, P.J. Brown, and Powe combined for 24 points, and Kevin Garnett had a steady 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Ray Allen proved his value once again with 19 points and 3 steals. And Paul Pierce, who has battled with Bryant throughout, lead the Celtics with 20 points, helping to erase a lead as large as Kobe's number. After tonight, they'll have three opportunities to...BEAT LA!