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A look at the "comeback" from 2002 Nets vs Celtics game three

Posted by shawn cassidy on August 16, 2011 at 3:00 AM

The story before the game three "comeback"


The Celtics found a rhythm,and a groove in the 2001-02 season. The duo of Paul Pierce,and Antoine Walker finally put together a winning season. The Celtics ended up the third seed at 49-33. They finished three behind the Nets for the top spot. The Celtics made the playoffs for the first time since 1995. From 95 to 2002 it was a long,and painful drought of losing seasons,and missed draft picks.


The Celtics replaced Pitno with Jim O'brien in 2001,and he changed the Celtics style of play. They became a quick shooting team,and happy with the three-point shot. The Celtics became one of the best teams in the East for a short time in the early part of the decade.


The Celtics would endure a tough series with the defending Eastern conference champs the 76ers. The Celtics would win game five easily at the Fleet center(the garden). Paul would have an amazing 46 point game too close out the 76ers. The Celtics would start the second round on the road against the Pistons. The Pistons would win the first game of the series,but the Celtics would take the next four,and the Celtics would be in the Eastern conference finals for the first time since 1988.


The Celtics would start the series on the road again. The Celtics,and Nets split the first two games in New Jersey. The series would move to Boston  for game three.


The game three showdown

The Celtics started the game off very sluggish,and it  almost looked like a dream slowed down a thousand seconds from real  time. The Celtics couldn't get close after the first quarter let down. The Celtics fell down by 15 points in the first quarter. The Celtics would end the first half down 20 points,and they ended the third down 21 points. Prior to this game only a few teams came from behind down 18 points going into the fourth quarter.


I can remember turning the volume down once the fourth quarter started. I couldn't stand listening to anything at that time.  I was sitting on the floor thinking this is the series. How can we bounce back from this,and I was thinking will go down 2-1 for sure. I had the urge to turn the channel,but a slight feeling rushing through my body set off something in my head,and I got the feeling not to turn the channel. The Boston crowd stayed in the building,and I can remember before the seconds raced off the clock to start the fourth  that Walker yelled at Pierce ,and the rest of the Celtics. His message was clear. Let's make them work for this game even if we lose.


I just wanted some fire from the Celtics. The Celtics would start the fourth on a 9-0 run in the first 2 minutes. Paul went off for seven of the nine points scored by the Celtics. The Crowd was giving all they had for the Celtics. I could remember at that point once the Celtics cut the lead to 12 with 9 minutes to go I just knew I was watching something I would never forget. The Nets would call time out,and after the time out the Celtics would cause the Nets to take a bad shot,and the Celtics would continue their run,and Kenny Anderson would hit a two point basket too cut the lead to 10.


The lead would stay around ten  to twelve points for the Nets. Pierce had some of the best moves to the basket I have ever seen in one game. The Celtics would cut  the lead to 9 under the six-minute mark. The Nets would get a three-point play after the Celtics cut the lead to 9,and the lead was back to 12. The energy was aiming for the Celtics,and it was like a bow hitting a target right in the middle. The game was towards the end with around four minutes remaining,but the Celtics fell back down by ten points.


Rodney Rogers will forever be linked to the trade that sent young buck,and future all-star Joe Johnson out-of-town. Rogers played a huge role in the Celtics comeback. He went to the line for timely points to keep the Celtics close. Rogers hit 6/6 from the charity stripe. It was clear that this was Walkers team,but Pierce was taking it away. Paul would lead the Celtics closer,and closer after going to the foul line eight times in the final minutes. Paul would score three points in a 24 second span that cut the lead to 90-87,and a few moments later Rodney Rogers would take a crucial charge. During this time I can remember the feeling of being full of emotion,and I couldn't describe what was going on.


Paul got to the line,and cut the lead to one with 1:03 to go in the game. The Nets would call time out,and the garden was on fire,and you couldn't believe what was happening right in front of your eyes. Pierce would go to the line at the 46 second mark,and he would hit the go ahead free throw.


Mike Breen had this quote:


"It's not the old Boston garden,but it feels like it today"


The Nets would turn the ball over after the time out,and Kenny Anderson would recover the ball,and take it in for two points from a goal-tending call.The Nets couldn't put together a solid offensive set,and the Celtics would win 94-90,and the Celtics pulled off the greatest comeback in playoff history. 

The Celtics wouldn't win another game in the East finals,but the memory of the comeback will stick with me forever.

I'm sure the game below if you watch will give you a better feeling then my write up,but this game gave a new generation something to look forward to,and his name was Paul Pierce.

Click here too watch game three comeback



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