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On this day in Boston Celtics history, Boston big man luminary Bill Russell won his first NBA championship in 1968 serving as player-coach of his Celtics squad when Boston dispatched their longtime rival Los Angeles Lakers 124-109 on the road in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
Celtics forward John Havlicek led all players with 40 points and 10 rebounds, forward Bailey Howard added 30 points and 11 boards and point guard Larry Siegfried chipped in another 22 points and 6 assists in the win. It was the Celtics’ 10th banner hung as a franchise, the first won in Russell’s rookie season and his penultimate overall.
It was also the first championship won without legendary general manager Red Auerbach serving in the role of head coach. It was the first time NBA play had taken place in the month of May, and first of the four major U.S. sports to see a Black head coach win a championship in the modern era.
Boston Celtics Kevin McHale takes a pointer from Celtics head coach Bill Fitch during practice at Boston Garden after the Celtics downed the Philadelphia 76ers 91-90. The Celtics will later meet with the Houston Rockets in a best-of-seven series for the National Basketball Association championship title. AP Photo/Benoit
In 1981, the Boston Celtics erased a double-digit lead by the Philadelphia 76ers to win Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, 91-90.
Larry Bird led Boston with 23 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists and as many steals. Forward Cedric Maxwell added 19 points and 6 boards, and Robert Parish 16 points, 8 rebounds and three blocks.
The Celtics went on to win their 14th title over the Houston Rockets in the NBA Finals 4-2.
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
It is also former Celtic big man Troy Murphy’s birthday.
Murphy was born in 1980 in Morristown, New Jersey, and played for Notre Dame in college and the Indiana Pacers and New Jersey (at that time) Nets before being dealt to the Golden State Warriors in 2011.
Murphy was bought out and signed with Boston for the remainder of the season to help shore up the Celtics’ aging frontcourt. He appeared in 17 regular-season games for Boston, averaging 2.6 points, 2.2 rebounds and 0.4 assists per game while with the team.
Chicago Bulls’ Ben Gordon (7) drives to the hoop against Boston Celtics’ Ray Allen during the first quarter of a first-round NBA basketball playoff game in Boston Saturday, May 2, 2009. AP Photo/Elise Amendola
It is also the anniversary of a 109-99 Game 7 victory over the Chicago Bulls in the 2009 NBA Eastern Conference first round, the Celtics clinching the series with only the third game in that stretch that did not require overtime to settle.
“Oh, my God. Overtime after overtime after overtime,” offered center Glen Davis on the welcome change of pace, via the Associated Press. Ray Allen led the Celtics with 23 points and 7 rebounds, and Paul Pierce added 20 points and 9 boards.
Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) shoots over Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat (13) during the second half of a second-round NBA playoff series basketball game in Boston, Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Thomas scored 53 as the Celtics defeated the Wizards 129-119 in overtime, taking a 2-0 lead in the series. AP Photo/Charles Krupa
On this day, point guard Isaiah Thomas scored 53 points in a 129-119 playoff victory over the Washington Wizards in 2017.
The win was especially emotional for IT. It came on what would have been his sister Chyna’s 23rd birthday. She had passed earlier in the week in an automobile accident.
Highest scoring Playoff games in Celtics history
John Havlicek: 54
Isaiah Thomas: 53
Ray Allen: 51
Sam Jones: 51
Bob Cousy: 50 https://t.co/rf23HeKrzt
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) May 2, 2020
To add insult to injury, the Seattle native had spent hours in the dentist’s chair ahead of the game addressing a tooth that had gotten knocked out earlier in the series.
It was the second-highest postseason point total logged by a Celtic, a point behind forward John Havlicek’s 54-point record and just ahead of Ray Allen’s 51-point performance from Game 6 of the 2009 first-round series against the Bulls.
Adam Glanzman/Getty Images
“The least I can do is go out there and play for her,” Thomas said after the game via the Associated Press.
“I knew once game-time came, my guys would get me going … There was no way I was sitting out.”
Los Angeles Lakers guard Jerry West (44) drives past San Diego Rockets forward Jim Barnett (33) and Toby Kimball (7) at the Forum. Darryl Norenberg-USA TODAY Sports
It is also the date that we lost big man Toby Kimball in 2017.
The former UConn player had been drafted by Boston in 1965 and played 38 games over one season with the team before he was picked up by the (then) San Diego Rockets in the 1967 NBA expansion draft. He averaged 2.6 points and 3.8 boards per game while with the Celtics.
Rest in peace.
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