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Celtics Morning Joe: Do you think the Celtics would have won banner 17 in 1987?

Posted by shawn cassidy on July 16, 2011 at 4:59 AM




I often think of game 4 in the 1987 finals. The Celtics marched into the finals with some broken bones,and some bruised souls. The champions from the year before the Celtics would meet up with the enemy once again for the third, and last meeting in the 80's.

The Celtics for the first time  in the 80's would start the finals on the road. The Celtics dropped the first two in LA,and the Celtics would in game 3. The skinny in game 4?

After their Game 3 win, Larry Bird said. "This (Game 3) was the most important game of the series for us. If we lost, it might've been tough to get up for Game 4. Now it's going to be easy."

The Celtics took it right to the Lakers, controlling the boards and going up by as many as 16 after halftime, but Los Angeles fought back to tie the game at 95-95 on a Kareem Abdul-Jabbar skyhook with 5:30 remaining. The Lakers then went cold and Boston scored the game's next eight to go up 103-95 with 3½ minutes left. Mychal Thompson and Abdul-Jabbar broke the Lakers' scoring drought by each hitting 1-of-2 from the line to cut the lead to six. Then, on the Celtics' next possession, Robert Parish lost the ball to Michael Cooper. Cooper got the ball to Magic Johnson, who started a break. Cooper spotted up in 3-point territory, Johnson got him the ball, and Cooper drained it to cut the lead to 103-100.



On the Celtics next possession, Larry Bird missed and Thompson rebounded. James Worthy then took Kevin McHale in the lane for an easy jumper. The Boston lead was down to one. On the very next possession, Bird threw a bad bounce pass that McHale couldn't grasp, and the Lakers got the ball back with half a minute left. The Lakers called a timeout to set up a pick for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. But Magic told him to fake it as his defender, Robert Parish, attempted to fight through the pick, and then roll to the basket. He did. The pass was there for an easy alley-oop dunk, and the Lakers took a 104-103 lead. However, Bird got open in the corner and hit a three point bomb in front of the Lakers' bench with 12 seconds left, and put Boston up 106-104.



On the next possession, Abdul-Jabbar was fouled and went to the line, where he made the first and missed the second. McHale and Thompson both went up for the missed shot, and the officials ruled that McHale forced the ball out of bounds. The Celtics protested that the ball was off Thompson, but possession was awarded to the Lakers with seven seconds left.



What followed was another play for the ages. Magic took the inbounds pass to the left of the key and feined 20-footer, but McHale came out to change his mind. So Magic drove into the key, and lofted a hook shot which just cleared the fingertips of McHale and Parish, giving the Lakers a 107-106 lead. The Celtics still had one last shot, but Bird missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.



If Magic misses the Celtics tie the series at 2. Even if Magic makes the baby hook. What if Bird drains the three? The Celtics still tie the series at  2-2. The series could have changed easily with a Celtics win in-game 4. Their is still one question. The Celtics had injury issues,and that could have killed their chances in 1987 despite the possible 2-2 tie in the series.

Do you think the Celtics could have won banner 17 if they won game 4?

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2 Comments

Reply Ron Leyba
12:53 PM on July 16, 2011 
I think it would be hard to say,but I want to say yes they would have won.
Reply Steve Abrashoff
8:25 PM on July 16, 2011 
After 24 years of agonizing and lamenting over that series (which, by the way, pales in comparison to 2010), time and wisdom tells me that "No. We still wouldn't have won." Too many injuries. Walton was done. Wedman was done. McHale was shot with his foot. Just too many injuries to overcome, and the Fakers were the only team good enough (give them bastards their due for that) to capitalize on our weaknesses.

Now, had we been at 100%. We would have wiped our asses with them, just like all the Russell teams did.