Defining Moments: Paul Pierce outduels LeBron in Game 7 at TD Garden

Defining Moments: Paul Pierce outduels LeBron in Game 7 at TD Garden originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Sometimes you need a monster performance from your best player to win a playoff series -- especially when you're facing one of the greatest of all time.

Just ask Paul Pierce, whose Boston Celtics were tasked with fending off the Cleveland Cavaliers and 23-year-old LeBron James in Game 7 of the 2008 Eastern Conference semifinals at TD Garden on May 18, 2008.

James was at the height of his powers in this one, racking up 45 points on 14 of 29 shooting while adding five rebounds, six steals and two assists. But Boston's own superstar matched King James blow-for-blow. Pierce poured in 41 points of his own, making 4 of 6 3-pointers in addition to contributing five assists and two steals.

"I had it going, LeBron had it going, and neither one of us wanted our teams to lose tonight," Pierce said after the game. "Two heavyweights going at it, throwing body blows."

Pierce's most iconic play didn't even make the stat sheet, though: With under a minute remaining and Boston leading by three, Pierce dove on the floor in front of James to corral a loose ball, call a timeout and gain possession for the Celtics, who held on for a 97-92 victory to win the series and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.

"Tonight was basically get the ball to Paul Pierce and get the hell out the way," Pierce's teammate, Kevin Garnett marveled in his postgame press conference. "I don't need y'all ask me no questions. That was the game plan. That's what we did."

Celtics fans know what happened from there: The C's dispatched the Detroit Pistons in six games in the East Finals, then defeated the rival Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals to secure their first championship since 1986.

Check out full highlights from the epic game in the video player above, courtesy of VA New England.