BOSTON (CBS) — An incredible postseason run has the Celtics in the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010. Boston is four wins away from raising Banner 18, though it won’t be easy against the Golden State Warriors.
The NBA Finals don’t tip off until Thursday night in San Francisco. That will give the Celtics some time to rest up, and give us a few days to sit back and enjoy the moments that got the C’s to this point. Boston has gone on a little revenge tour this postseason, ousting the last three teams to send them home in the playoffs: The Nets, the Bucks and the Heat.
Sweeping the Nets in the first round was glorious, followed by entertaining (and occasionally frustrating) seven-game series wins over the Bucks and the Heat. Those three series were filled with incredible moments for the Celtics, moments that we’ll be looking back on for while.
From buzzer beaters to filthy crossovers to viscous dunks, the Celtics have given us a little bit of everything this postseason. Let’s hope they continue to provide some great moments over the next few weeks as they take on the Warriors in the NBA Finals.
But before we get to the final games of the season, let’s look back on the moments that got the Celtics here:
Tatum’s Game 1 Winner vs. Brooklyn
The play that started the run. The Celtics nearly blew their first game of the playoffs, and needed a near perfect final 45 seconds to escape with a win over the Nets.
But this play had it all. The ball movement, with the Celtics passing up a good shot for a better one — twice. Tatum moving without the ball. Durant just standing there and doing nothing. Tatum spinning to put in the layup against Kyrie’s “defense.”
It was poetry in motion, and it was the spark that got the Celtics going this postseason.
Smart’s Magical Left Hand
The Celtics could have lost Game 2 against the Nets as well, falling behind by 17 points in the contest. Then they got their stuff together late in the third quarter and went on a 23-4 run to take control. The Nets were within eight with just over a minute left, and at the time it felt like they were capable of coming back.
But Marcus Smart made an incredible left-handed runner to close it out for the Celtics, and then peered into his palm like it was a gateway into a different dimension. Even Jaylen Brown had to see the light.
Or it was just a hot hand that sealed Boston’s win. Either way, what a shot.
Jaylen Gives Grayson Allen A Seat
Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holliday are pretty great dudes, so it was hard to “hate” the Bucks. But Milwaukee has a solid villain in Grayson Allen, and Jaylen Brown gave Celtics fans plenty to cheer about at Allen’s expensive in Game 2 of the East semis.
Early in the game, Brown lulled Allen to sleep and then put him on his fanny with a ferocious crossover. That was one filthy move by Brown to sit Allen down. Crossovers are cool.
Al vs. Giannis
Dunks are cool too. Especially when it’s a 35-year-old guy dunking on the best player on the planet.
Giannis mean-mugged Horford earlier in Game 4 after he threw down an earth-shattering dunk of his own. Yes, he mean-mugged Al Horford, one of the nicest guys in all of pro sports.
Al didn’t forget, and got his revenge early in the fourth quarter when he threw down a slam right in Giannis’ face. The normally reserved Horford showed more emotion than he ever has on the floor, and it got Boston going. The Celtics outscored the Bucks by 15 points in the fourth quarter to win the game and even the series at 2-2.
Tatum’s Game 6
With their backs against the wall and facing elimination in enemy territory, Jayson Tatum had his big moment for the Celtics. He was masterful in Game 6 in Milwaukee, scoring 46 points to force a Game 7. He scored 15 points in the fourth quarter, including 11 straight for Boston at one point.
Tatum was feeling it as he painted his masterpiece, barely touching iron on the majority of his jumpers. He hit seven threes and shot 17-for-32 overall.
Grant Goes Off In Game 7
Anything can happen in a Game 7. But if you had Grant Williams going off for a career-high 27 points in a Game 7 to send the defending champs home, you should go buy a bunch of lottery tickets.
Williams was electric in Boston’s 109-81 blowout victory to close out the Bucks, hitting 10 of his 22 shots overall while going 7-for-18 from downtown. He was open because of all the attention that Tatum and Brown command, but he made the most of those open shots.
We knew that Grant could hit threes, just not that many of them in a close-out game.
Smart’s Incredible Buckets In Game 2 vs. Heat
After dropping the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics evened things up by blowing out the Heat in Game 2. Smart returned to action after missing Game 1 with a foot sprain, and he flirted with a triple-double, scoring 24 points to go with 12 assists and nine rebounds.
He also made two incredible buckets in the game, starting with this over-the-backboard shot in the third quarter:
Later in the quarter, he gave Max Strus a seat with a nasty crossover and finished the dance by draining a jumper:
Jaylen’s Poster In Game 5
This slam had it all. The Celtics pouring it on in a blowout. The Heat wanting nothing to do with keeping Brown away from the basket. A stunned Pat Riley.
Brown led all scorers with 25 points in Game 5, including two of the loudest points of the series.
Al Finally Makes The Finals
The Celtics led Game 7 against the Heat from start to finish, but it was still an edge-of-your-seat kind of game. There was a lot on the line for everyone, including Horford, who waited 15 years to make it the Finals.
That wait is now over, and it’s impossible not to feel some feelings watching Horford become overcome with joy — and watching his teammates share that moment with him. It’s what sports are all about.
Now let’s hope that the Celtics have a lot more special moments to add to the list in the NBA Finals.