The Celtics Night of the Decade: A Throwback to the '80s (2023)

The Celtics Night of the Decade: A Throwback to the '80s (1)

Monday marks the first of seven Decade Nights the Boston Celtics will be hosting at TD Garden this season to celebrate their 75th anniversary and the NBA.

It begins on an 80's night, which is fitting since the Celtics will host the same Houston Rockets they defeated in the 1981 and 1986 Finals.

During the game, fans will be transported back in time to relive some of the Celtics' most memorable moments from the '80s, many of which we've detailed in the decade breakdown below.

a trade that shaped dynasties

The Celtics began the 1980s with a deal that would shape their next decade of success.

On June 9, the day before the 1980 draft, Boston traded the #1 and #13 picks to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for Robert Parish and the #3 pick McHale while the Warriors were using their picks Joe Barry Carroll and Ricky Brown, and McHale and Parish, respectively, were subsequently inducted into the Hall of Fame, making a total of 16 All-Stars. At the same time, Carroll and Brown teamed up to be voted All-Star.

It's safe to say that Boston won the deal because it helped form arguably the greatest frontcourt trio in NBA history, with McHale and Larry Bird at the helm. The Celtics contributed to three championships over the next six years. Year.

(Video) Boston Celtics 1980/81 Documentary | The Dynasty Renewed 🍀

An impressive comeback in the Eastern Conference Finals

NBA teams have recovered 13 times from a 3-1 loss in the playoff series, but in Boston's thrilling 1981 game against the Philadelphia 76ers, no team came close.

Boston has three straight knockout games, in each of which it captured the ball, winning Games 5 and 6 by two points and Game 7 by one point.

In the deciding Game 7, Philadelphia was in the lead with seven minutes remaining. Boston fought back, however, and equalized 89-89 before Larry Bird's middle-distance jumper gave Boston a two-point lead with 1-03 to go.

The Sixers had numerous chances to equalize in the closing moments of the game, but converted only one free throw, giving Boston a 91-90 win. It was an uncomfortable sense of déjà vu for the Phillies, who had met exactly the same fate 13 years earlier when they led 3-1 over the Celtics in the 1968 Eastern Conference Finals.

Team C's Big Three win the championship

After defeating Philadelphia, the Celtics faced the Cinderella Rockets, who advanced to the Finals despite a 40-42 record in the regular season. Meanwhile, Boston is 62-20.

Houston made the series interesting by drawing the first four games. Back then, star Moses Malone had so much confidence in his team that, as he said, "Boston's not that good," he could pick four random players off the streets of his hometown and still beat the Celtics.

In hindsight, he probably shouldn't have said that.

(Video) 1985-1986 Boston Celtics - "Sweet-Sixteen"

Boston won Game 5 109-80 at TD Garden as Cedric Maxwell had 28 points and 15 rebounds. The Celtics then returned to Houston for Game 6, defeating the Rockets 102-91 and winning their 14th NBA title. Despite all the hype surrounding Boston's Big Three, Maxwell was a well-deserved Finals MVP, averaging 17.7 points and 9.5 rebounds with a 56.8 percent shot rate from the field.

Henderson intercepts the ball

The 1984 Finals was an incredible seven-game streak and the first title match between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson since the 1979 NCAA Championship game, won by Champion Johnson's Michigan State Spartans. There were some standout moments throughout the series, starting with Gerard Henderson's famous tackle in the second leg that saved Celtic from being relegated 2-0.

With 18 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, the Lakers took control of the ball and led 113-111. However, Henderson stole the Los Angeles game while waiting for a break from James Worthy. Johnson then inexplicably dribbled into overtime and the Celtics won 124-121, thanks in large part to Scott Weidman with 14 seconds left.

The theft changed the course of the series as the Celtics moved from a potential loss in the first two games of the series at home to Los Angeles, where it came in their favor with a 1-1 draw.

McHale Rambis Clothesline, Lakers Road Series

In Game 5 of the 1984 Finals, known as "The Heat Game", the Celtics won 121-103 when the temperature at TD Garden was 37 degrees. However, some may argue that the series' real "heat match" happened two days earlier and was the most intense of the legendary rivalries.

After a 137-104 loss in game three, Larry Bird chastised his teammates for playing too calmly. Those words got them going in game four, and three days later they were actually fine.
With the Celtics leading 76-70 with seven minutes left in the third quarter, Kevin McHale changed the game by knocking down Kurt Rambis with a clothesline as he charged for the basket.

(Video) January 29, 1985 - Celtics vs Pistons

The incident resulted in both teams emptying the benches and creating a domino effect that led to an emotional second half. Several altercations have ensued since then, including two separate incidents when Larry Bird later attacked Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Cooper.

Ultimately, Boston defeated Los Angeles. With less than a minute left in regulation, the Lakers led by five points, but "Magic" Johnson made several crucial mistakes, including a poor pass that fell to Robert Parish and was used to score at the other end of the field. The Lakers also missed several crucial free throws in the last quarter. After James Worthy missed a shot, Cedric Maxwell added to the confrontation by choking over the line with his hands at his throat.

The Celtics won 129-124, splitting the series into two games and winning the championship in seven games.

Five years after losing the NCAA championship, Bird Johnson got his revenge by defeating the Lakers quarterback and averaging 27.4 points, 14.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.1 blocks secured first Finals MVP.

Bird Logs scores 60 points ahead of Hawks

The Celtics of the 1980s had to compete not only with opponents, but with opponents. They compete with each other. A classic example happened in early March 1985 when Kevin McHale scored 56 team points only to be passed by Larry Bird nine days later.

At the end of McHale's 56-point game against the Pistons on March 3, Bird told his frontcourt partner to stay on the field for the rest of the game, as his record might not last long. In fact, it took Bird less than two weeks to break that record on March 12 against the Atlanta Hawks.

Bird scored 60 points on 22 of 36 from the field and 15 of 16 from the free throw line. His shots were so amazing that even the Atlanta players couldn't hide their confusion and laughed and clapped from the benches.

(Video) How Good Were The 70s Boston Celtics?

Bird's record stood for 36 years until 23-year-old Jayson Tatum scored 60 points for the San Antonio Spurs on April 30, 2021.

Celtics 50-1 at home and Rockets repeat

The 1986 season was a time of redemption for the Boston Celtics after losing to main rivals Los Angeles Lakers in the 1985 NBA Finals. They retaliated by playing one of the greatest seasons of all time.

At the height of the Bird-McHale-Parrish era, Boston had a 67-15 regular-season record, including a 40-1 NBA record at home.

The Celtics easily defeated Michael Jordan's Bulls in the first three rounds of the playoffs, defeated Dominique Wilkins' Eagles in five games, and then defeated the Milwaukee Bucks by 15 points per game.

The Celtics then faced Houston in a rematch of the 1981 Finals and the Rockets put up an uphill battle, notably 7'4 forward Ralph Sampson (Ralph Sampson) starting a brawl with 6'1 guard Jerry Sehing. In Game 5, the Rockets won 111-96. However, the team retaliated in Game 6 by going home 114-97 and extending their postseason record of 40-1 with a 10-0 record at TD Garden. Mark them as collected during the regular season.

Bird hit a triple-double in the title game and was named Finals MVP for a second time, averaging 23.9 points, 9.7 rebounds, 9.5 assists and 2.7 steals per game.


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