NBA Playoffs 2011: Top 10 Biggest Postseason Upsets in Boston Celtics History

Collin BerglundCorrespondent IIIApril 21, 2011

NBA Playoffs 2011: Top 10 Biggest Postseason Upsets in Boston Celtics History

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - MAY 7:  Kenyon Martin #6 of the New Jersey Nets shoots past Antoine Walker #8 of the Boston Celtics in Game two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2003 NBA Playoffs on May 7, 2003 at Continental Airlines Arena in East Ru
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    The Boston Celtics have more NBA championships than any other team.  They have not been involved in too many epic upsets in their history.  

    There were a number of seasons where they finished the regular season as the No. 1 team and proceeded to win the championship.  

    When the Celtics lost, it was generally to a Goliath-sized rival in an epically contested series.

    Yet even the Celtics have had their fair share of dramatic moments, swinging both in favor and against the team, that will be recounted in the coming slides.

1975 Eastern Conference Finals

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    The Washington Bullets, led by Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes, had an identical record to the Boston Celtics when the teams entered the 1975 postseason.  

    The Bullets' series win was not an upset in the truest sense of the word, and the series would not be on this list if not for the season before and after.

    The Celtics won the NBA championship in 1974 and 1976 with virtually the same team.  The 1975 team had NBA championship expectations and instead lost in the Eastern Conference Finals—to a Washington sports team.  Shocking.

1958 NBA Finals

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    BOSTON - APRIL 20:  Boston Celtic great Bob Cousy waves to fans as he heads out to the mound to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the start of the Boston Red Sox versus the New York Yankees on April 20, 2007 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachuset
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Bob Cousy helped lead the 1957 Boston Celtics to an NBA championship behind the heroics of rookie center Bill Russell.  In 1958, the Celtics made the finals again.  They lost.

    It would be the only series loss until 1967.  

    The Celtics lost to the St. Louis Hawks, led by Bob Pettit and Cliff Hagan.  In the regular season, the Celtics won 49 games to the Hawks' 41.  While the Hawks had a lot of size (for the time), they weren't supposed to have the guards to compete with Cousy and the Celts—but they did.

    At this time in Celtics history, every upset in a playoff series was an upset of historic proportions.

1990 First Round

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    DENVER - 1990:  Boston Celtics forward Larry Bird #33 looks on from the bench during game against the Denver Nuggets at McNichols Arena in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Allsport  /Allsport
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    The 1989 season was the beginning of the end for the original "Big Three" of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish.  Reggie Lewis was starting to come into his own, signaling the beginning of a new era for the Celtics.

    Even so, the Celtics won 52 games in the 1989-1990 season and were supposed to beat the 45-win Knicks in the first round.  Before 2003, the first round of the NBA playoffs was only five games.  The Celtics won the first two games and all seemed right with the world.

    But the Knicks came roaring back, winning the final three games and shocking Celtics fans across New England.

2009 Eastern Conference Semifinals

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    BOSTON - NOVEMBER 20: Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics tries to move the ball against the defense of Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic during the game on November 20, 2009 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly a
    Elsa/Getty Images

    The 2008-2009 Boston Celtics were coming off an NBA championship in 2007-2008 and finished the regular season with the best record in the Eastern Conference, led by their four stars, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo.

    After nearly getting upset by the Chicago Bulls in the first-round series that went the full seven games, the Celtics took on the Orlando Magic.  The Celtics were up 3-2 in the series, but couldn't pull out Game 6 or 7.

    The Celtics won the Eastern Conference in 2008 and 2010.  Orlando put itself on the map with a marquee upset against the Green in between.

2003 First Round

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    INDIANAPOLIS - NOVEMBER 11:  Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics looks to play the ball against Ron Artest #23 of the Indiana Pacers during the game at Conseco Fieldhouse on November 11, 2003 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  The Celtics won 78-76.  NOTE TO US
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    In 2003, the Celtics entered the postseason as the No. 6 seed and were matched up with the No. 3 seed Pacers.

    They won in six games.  

    Antoine Walker and Paul Pierce had a two-season stretch where the Celtics almost mattered again due to the relative weakness of the Eastern Conference.  

    Although the Celtics did not make a significant run in 2003, losing in the conference semifinals, 2002 and 2003 gave young Celtics fans a taste of winning that would not be satiated until 2007.

1993 First Round

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    Tim DeFrisco/Getty Images

    If 1989 was the beginning of the end for the Celtics, 1993 was the true last gasp.  Larry Bird didn't play a game in the '92-'93 season and the three top scorers were Reggie Lewis, Xavier McDaniel and Kevin Gamble (Who?).  Parish and McHale were shadows of their former selves.  

    The team finished with 48 wins for second in the East.

    After winning the first game of their first-round series with the 44-win Charlotte Hornets, the Celtics lost three straight.  Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning led the Hornets to a successful season and the team proved too much for the Celtics.

    The Celtics would only make the playoffs one time between 1993 and 2001.

1972 Eastern Conference Finals

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    WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 30:  Former Boston Celtics player and head coach Tommy Heinsohn talks to the news media after attending legendary NBA coach Red Auerbach's viewing at Joseph Gawler's Sons Inc. funeral home October 30, 2006 in Washington, DC. Auerbach,
    Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

    This Tom Heinsohn-coached team won its division during the regular season and was among the favorites to come out of the East.  

    Instead, it lost to the Knicks in the Eastern Conference Finals.

    John Havlicek and Dave Cowens would team up to win two championships for the Celtics in the 1970s, but this team was not yet ready, despite its strong regular season.

1967 Eastern Division Finals

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    Undated:  Former NBA star Bill Russell during a basketball game.   Mandatory Credit: Allsport USA/ALLSPORT
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Between 1956 and 1969, the Celtics made the NBA Finals every season—except 1967.  Any loss in those days was an upset, even if the Wilt Chamberlain-led 76ers team they lost to had eight more wins in the regular season.

    Celtics Hall of Fame coach Red Auerbach retired in 1966 and was puzzled over who should replace him.  He had a great player that was tough to coach in Bill Russell.  Instead of pitting Russell against a new coach, Auerbach decided to make Russell a player-coach.

    Although the decision didn't pan out in 1967, the Celtics would win the next two NBA Finals with Russell playing and coaching.

May 22, 2002

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - MAY 21: Aaron Williams #34 of the New Jersey Nets looks to pass under pressure from Antoine Walker #8 and Rodney Rogers #54 of the Boston Celtics in Game two of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2002 NBA Playoffs at Continenta
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Only three wins separated the New Jersey Nets from the Boston Celtics in 2002.  But in the third quarter of Game 3, there wasn't a person in the arena who thought the Celtics should win, could win or would win.

    Down 21 entering the fourth quarter, Paul Pierce led his team back by scoring 19 in the final 12 minutes of the game.

    Although the Celtics would not win the series, this win gave a generation of Celtics fans their first taste of what playoff basketball would be.

    In 2003, the Celtics entered the postseason as the No. 6 seed and were matched up with the No. 3 seed Pacers.

    They won in six games.

1969 Postseason

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    SAN ANTONIO - JUNE 12:  NBA legend Bill Russell is introduced to the crowd during the game between the San Antonio Spurs and the Detroit Pistons in Game two of the 2005 NBA Finals at SBC Center on June 12, 2005 in San Antonio, Texas.  The Spurs defeated t
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    In 1969, Bill Russell was in his final season.  The Celtics had a subpar season by their standards, finishing in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, but the Celtics upset the higher-seeded Knicks and 76ers in the first two rounds of the playoffs.

    Their fairy tale was supposed to come to an end in the finals, where they faced the Los Angeles Lakers, who had only recently added Wilt Chamberlain to their team.

    This series is most famous for the Lakers owner being so confident of his team winning Game 7 that he set up balloons to drop after the Lakers won.  

    Instead, the Celtics won and pulled off one of the great postseason upsets in history