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Boston Celtics

This Date in NBA History (June 12): In 2008, Celtics record largest comeback victory in NBA Finals history since 1971 vs. Lakers and more

On June 12th in 2008, Boston Celtics came back from a 24-point deficit to win Game 4 of the NBA Finals 97-91 against the Los Angeles Lakers.

It is the largest comeback victory in an NBA Finals game since 1971 and gave the Celtics a commanding 3-1 series deficit. Courtesy of the comeback, the C's turned a situation that was heavily stacked against them to one where they seemed in a very favourable position to clinch their first title in 22 years.

Coming off a loss in Game 3, the Celtics were down by 21 points (35-14) after the first quarter in Game 4. A Sasha Vujacic three with 6:45 to go in the second quarter took the lead to its maximum of 24 for the Lakers, who were looking to improve their perfect home record in the postseason to 10-0.

However, the visitors responded immediately with a 12-0 run over the next 3:47 minutes to make it a 45-33 game. By halftime, the lead was at 18 (58-40).

In the second half, the Lakers, who were firing in all cylinders in the first half especially in the first quarter, went cold.

Slowly but steadily, the Celtics chipped away at the massive lead led by their Big 3 of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. The trio, who were brought together by the Celtics' front office in the 2007 offseason, combined for 34 of the team's 57 second-half points.

A huge part of the comeback came in the final six minutes of the third quarter where the Celtics put together a 21-3 run, essentially bringing the deficit down to just two points (73-71) heading into the final quarter.

The visitors finally took the lead, their first of the game, with an 18-foot Eddie House jumpshot when there were only 4:07 minutes left on the game clock. From there, the Celtics went on a game-sealing 13-8 run.

"It's definitely a great win, one that you're going to put up there in the library and break back out one day for your kids to watch," said Pierce, who had finished with team-highs of 20 points and seven assists. "But I want nothing more than that ring right now."

The win gave the Celtics a 3-1 series lead, one that at that time nobody had come back from. Two games later, on their home floor, the Celtics clinched their 17th championship in franchise history, and first since 1986, with a dominating 131-92 win.

NBA Championships clinched on June 12th

  • In 1984, Boston Celtics clinched their 15th title in franchise history with a 111-102 Game 7 victory against the Los Angeles Lakers. Six Celtics scored in double figures led by Cedric Maxwell's near triple-double 20 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists while Larry Bird finished with 20 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, and two steals.
  • In 1991, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls clinched their first NBA championship in franchise history by defeating the Los Angeles Lakers 108-101 in Game 5. Both Michael Jordan (30 points, 10 assists, five steals, four rebounds) and Scottie Pippen (32 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists, five steals) finished with big stat lines while playing all 48 minutes of the game.
  • In 2002, With a 113-107 Game 4 win, the Los Angeles Lakers swept the New Jersey Nets in the Finals and clinched their third consecutive championship. These Lakers became the fifth team in NBA history to 3-peat. With the victory, Phil Jackson tied Red Auerbach for most titles by a head coach. Shaquille O'Neal (134) eclipsed Hakeem Olajuwon's mark of 131 points in a four-game series, which he set in 1995 against the O'Neal-led Orlando Magic.
  • In 2011, Dallas Mavericks clinched their first championship in franchise history with a 105-95 Game 6 win over the heavily-favoured Miami Heat. Jason Terry was the game's top scorer with 27 points off the bench while Dirk Nowitzki, with series averages of 26.0 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists, was named Finals MVP.
  • In 2017, the Golden State Warriors clinched their fifth championship in franchise history and the second in the last three years with a 129-120 Game 5 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Kevin Durant, the Warriors' acquisition in the prior offseason, was named Finals MVP for the first time in his career with averages of 35.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 5.4 assists.

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