On this day in Boston Celtics history, the team defeated the Detroit Pistons 89-81 in Game 6 of the 2008 Eastern Conference finals to advance to their first NBA Finals since 1987, where they would face their longtime rival Los Angeles Lakers on their way to winning their 17th banner.
The Celtics would beat the Pistons via a future Hall of Fame trio, with 27 points and 8 rebounds from small forward Paul Pierce, 17 points from shooting guard Ray Allen, and big man Kevin Garnett adding 16 points and 6 rebounds. Detroit led by as much as 10 points in the final frame, but ultimately could not hold it, the Game 6 loss in the Conference Finals their third such exit in three years.
“It’s kind of surreal,” Garnett said via ESPN. “Probably hasn’t even hit me yet because we haven’t slept in about four days, going on five days now. Going to the Finals, I’m just hoping to get some sleep.”
It is also the anniversary of the Celtics beating the Pistons 79-78 in a Game 4 squeaker of the 1988 Eastern Conference Finals, which Detroit would eventually win in six games.
But Boston stole that win with forward Larry Bird going for 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists while point guard Dennis Johnson logged 18 points and 6 assists.
Big man Kevin McHale added 15 points and 5 boards, and center Robert Parish 13 points and 9 rebounds to secure the narrow win.
Oddly, the Celtics also beat the Pistons today in 1987, sending Detroit fishing with a 117-114 Game 7 win in the Eastern Conference Finals via an epic performance by Bird.
The Hick from French Lick logged 37 points, 9 rebounds, and as many assists to carry the team to the victory, with McHale adding 22 points and 10 boards.
Johnson contributed 18 points and 11 assists, while shooting guard (and later team president) Danny Ainge put up 18 points of his own.
The Celtics would advance to face the Lakers yet again in the Finals.
— Honest☘️Larry (@HonestLarry1) August 15, 2021
Finally, it is also the day we lost forward Ed Stanczak in 2004. A native of Fort Wayne, Indiana, he joined the (defunct) Anderson Packers of the competing (and later absorbed) National Basketball League (NBL) in 1949.
Stanczak would be drafted by the Celtics in the Packers dispersal draft after that team went under, playing just 19 games for Boston and averaging 3.2 points and 1.9 rebounds per game over that stretch.
Rest in peace.
Source: Yahoo Sports