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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 would add 30 points and 11 boards, and point guard Larry Siegfried chipped in another 22 points and 6 assists in the win. It would be the Celtics’ tenth 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.
Player-coach Bill Russell talks to newsmen after leading the Boston Celtics to an NBA title at Los Angeles, May 2, 1968. The Celts downed the Lakers 124-109 to take the title series 4 games to 2. (AP Photo/Harold Filan)
In 1981, the Boston Celtics erased a double-digit lead of the Philadelphia 76ers to win Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals 91 - 90.
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).
Larry Bird would lead 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 would go on to win their 14th title over the Houston Rockets in the NBA Finals four games to two.
It is also former Celtic big man Troy Murphy's birthday. Murphy was born in 1980 in Morristown, New Jersey, and would play 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.
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Murphy would be bought out, and would sign with Boston for the remainder of the season to help shore up the Celtics aging frontcourt. He would appear 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 an 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, as it was on what would have been his sister Chyna's 23rd birthday, who passed earlier in the week in an automobile accident.
To add insult to injury, the Seattle native had spent hours in the dentist's chair ahead of the game addressing a tooth which 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. https://twitter.com/Ballislife/status/1256570583887773697?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1256570583887773697%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fcelticswire.usatoday.com%2Fwp-admin%2Fpost.php%3Fpost%3D33572action%3Dedit
"The least I can do is go out there and play for her," Thomas said after the game via the A.P. "I knew once game-time came, my guys would get me going ... There was no way I was sitting out." This post originally appeared on Celtics Wire. Follow us on Facebook! [lawrence-related id=49754,49750,49683,49653] [listicle id=49662]