"It's about to be lights out." - Paul Pierce
Tonight, for the first time in my 26-year-old life, I thought to myself with great certainty, "I'll never see this again."
You could feel it building. The Lakers may have competed tonight for a few brief moments, but between the crowd, the series, and the moment...something was brewing and as a Celtic fan we could feel it. Just waiting to erupt, the same way that Boston's Game Four comeback was only a matter of time, due to their collective defensive effort.
And this time, when it finally started happening, there was no looking back.
When James Posey and Eddie House hit consecutive threes midway through the second quarter to put Boston up nine, it was merely a precursor. One steal and one more Posey three later, and this game was over. We didn't know it at the time, but it was.
Kevin Garnett's force-of-will three-point play at the end of the first half was the exclamation point, but only on the first half. When Ray Allen came back onto the floor, he decided he was tired of other guys hitting the big threes in this series—and went on to hit a Finals record-tying seven threes in Game Six.
Allen buried 19 total three in the six game series, a Finals record he alone owns.
We'll get to some more enjoyable numbers later. But first, ssince it's the Lakers, there's two things I have to say.
There aren't words in the english language to describe what took place on that floor tonight. In this "rivalry renewed" Finals, it'll go down as an incredibly memorable game for Boston and its fans.
These 2008 Finals have produced the biggest comeback in NBA Finals history, and now the largest margin of victory in a series-clinching game in Finals history. This Celtic team has done what no other Celtic team before them has done—and that's really saying something. To do it against the Lakers makes it even better.
Which brings me to my second point for the Lakers‚shame on you.
If I was a Laker fan who didn't put myself on suicide watch after Game Four, I'm on homicide watch tonight.
Last time Boston was in the playoffs—due to a late-season run and the return of Antoine Walker, in 2005—they played a tense seven-game series with Indiana in the opening round. And in Game Seven—in Boston—the Celtics got beat by 27 points. It was completely inexcuseable and I was the most upset I've ever been with the Celtics franchise.
What the Lakers did tonight was so much worse.
This was the Finals. Game Six. Against your greatest rival, with "the best player on the planet" on your team, and arguably the greatest head coach in NBA history.
And once Boston went in front, this game was over.
Not only is it bad enough to be on the downside of a 39-point loss in The Finals, but the Lakers quit. They let the Celtics throw reverse alley-oops on them. They left Ray Allen more open than he's probably been in his entire NBA career. They let the Celtics break several NBA Finals records.
Not that we didn't enjoy it. But shame on you.
Just a quick scroll through the box score for the highlights:
MICHAEL JORDAN: 7 for 22.
RAJON RONDO: 21 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds, 6 steals, 0 questions
PAUL PIERCE: 17 points, 10 assists, a Finals MVP and a spot for #34 in the rafters
RAY ALLEN: 26 points, 7 of 9 from three
KEVIN GARNETT: 26 points, 14 rebounds and the most incoherent Finals postgame interview in the history of man. Top of the world!
JAMES POSEY: 11 points, 3 for 3 from three, hit the biggest shots in the biggest games of these Finals.
CELTICS REBOUNDS: +19 (+12 offensive)
CELTICS ASSIST/TURNOVER: +26
LAKERS ASSIST/TURNOVER: -3
I mean, I could do this all night.
To make this point again—this Celtic team distinguished themselves from all of Celtic lore to find their own unique path to win the 17th NBA Championship in franchise history.
Pierce, Garnett, Allen and everyone—and that includes Doc Rivers, who has gone from everyone calling for his head one year ago to everyone falling in love with the guy (and I'll happily be the first one in that line)—took the Celtics from the past to the present.
Boston has been the best team all year, and became the champs by playing that way when it mattered most. This is a team that I'had plenty of room on the bandwagon—but for longtime and long-suffering Celtic fans, there is no team they could love more.
I'll close with this: My grandparents got me started on the Celtics, and it's their love for sports that bleeds through to my Dad and down to me. As my grandmother approaches 80 she keeps leaving messages on my voicemail, reminding that the Manning Family and their Super Bowl dramatics are going to literally put her in the ground for good.
Tonight, she calls at halftime when we could both already taste it. She says that when Kevin Garnett talked in that interview about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, she was so into everything that she had to get up and make one right away.
I laughed—because 600 miles away, I'd done the exact same thing.