Top Playoff Moments 2002

While most of the Celtics may have been posteason rookies, they certainly made quick impressions. From the C's impressive finish against Philly to their dominance of Jerry Stackhouse to the greatest playoff comeback in NBA history, the Celtics' 2002 postseason run will be etched in the minds of Boston fans for years to come.

Celtics.com takes a look back at some of the postseason's most memorable moments. Below are our top five 2002 NBA Playoffs highlights.

5. HALF MAN, ALL STAR: GAME 5 vs. PHILADELPHIA, MAY 3, 2002

Pierce splits the "D":
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Coming off two straight losses to the Sixers, some started to question Paul Pierce’s ability to deliver against the vaunted Philly defense. But in a do-or-die Game 5, “The Truth” had an answer. Pierce fell just one point shy of the franchise record for points in a half by a Celtic, scoring 29 points in a first half in which he emphatically put to rest any doubts.
4. FOUL TROUBLE IS NO TROUBLE AT ALL: GAME 5 vs. DETROIT, MAY 14, 2002

Anderson picks Jon Barry's pocket:
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When Antoine Walker joined Pierce on the bench with foul trouble with just over nine minutes remaining in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, it appeared as though the Celtics, who had watched a double-figure lead dwindle to one point, were headed for their fourth-straight playoff loss on the road. With the big guns on the bench, how could the Celtics produce? Kenny Anderson answered the question by scoring several baskets, dishing out a key assist on a Tony Battie jumper and logged one enormous steal on an inbounds pass, effectively delivering the Pistons their fourth-straight defeat and the Celtics a berth in the Eastern Conference Finals. "For that seven minutes that we were on the bench, every guy on the team made a commitment to win this game, and Kenny was the leader," Walker said. "He's the most consistent player on this team -- he always has been -- and we knew he was going to be able to do it for us. I'm very proud of the way that we showed the world that this team is more than me and Paul."
3. TWO'S COMPANY, THREE'S A WIN: GAME 2 vs. DETROIT, MAY 8, 2002

(Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)
Game Highlights:
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Leading into the Detroit series, there were questions whether or not the Celtics could get offensive production from players other than Antoine Walker and Paul Pierce. Not many teams had been able to shut down the Dynamic Duo, but the Pistons, who relied greatly upon their team defense all year long, had as good a chance as any. They did so in Game 1, holding Walker and Pierce to 37 and the Celtics to 84. But in Game 2, the co-captains once again scored 37, but the trio of Rodney Rogers, Anderson and Eric Williams combined for 42. This set a trend in the five-game series in which the Walker and Pierce leaned on their supporting cast for help.
2. SAVING THE BEST FOR LAST, GAME 2 vs. PHILADELPHIA, APRIL 25, 2002

Pierce's deciding trey:
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A big reason why the Celtics trailed by four points with just over four minutes to go in Game 2 of the first round series vs. Philly was because Paul Pierce had been ice cold from the field. Midway through the fourth period, he had hit on just 3-of-13 from the field, and the Sixers had gone on a 16-4 run and gained the lead. So you couldn’t have blamed anyone in attendance for gasping when Pierce jacked a three-pointer with just over a minute left with the score tied. In same sense, you couldn’t have blamed anyone in attendance when the FleetCenter went certifiably bananas after he hit it and a clip from A Few Good Men blared from CelticVision (“You can’t handle the truth!”). The basket, which accounted for three of Pierce’s nine points in the final two minutes, gave the Celtics an 84-81 lead and eventually a 2-0 lead in the series.
1a. DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO: GAME 3 vs. NEW JERSEY, MAY 25, 2002

Game Highlights:
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The Celtics were being run ragged -- at home no less. Down 21 points after three, they sat dejected on the bench during the final intermission. What could Head Coach Jim O’Brien tell them now that he had not said in practice in the days before the game, or in every timeout leading to that point? As O’Brien began to speak, Walker chimed in. Or sounded off would be a better description. In no uncertain terms, Walker demanded that they not go down without a fight. He then delivered a direct challenge at fellow captain Pierce. The result? They not only went out with a fight, but they delivered a knock out punch with the biggest fourth quarter comeback in NBA Playoff history. Thanks to NBC, the world got to see what those on the team already knew: that Walker is the heartbeat of the Celtics.
1. KING OF ALL COMEBACKS: GAME 3 vs. NEW JERSEY, MAY 25, 2002

Pierce drives for the deuce:
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The theme of the holiday weekend could have been lopsided scores. Eighteen years ago, the Celtics posted a record win at the Boston Garden against the Lakers in the 1984 NBA Finals, now known as the Memorial Day Massacre. Just as the Lakers game is remembered for its shocking lopsided line, Game 3 of the 2002 Eastern Conference Final might also have been remembered for its crooked totals. Had it not been for the fourth quarter. See, the diehards knew not to give up hope when their Green team trailed by 26 points in the third period. After all, the Celtics had made the late-game comeback part of their insignia. But for those of you who had turned off your radio or television when Boston trailed by 21 entering the fourth quarter, all you needed to see was a tape of celebration that ensued after the final buzzer. It was storybook finale to a fairy tale finish. After the Celtics outscored the Nets, 41-16, sealing the greatest fourth-quarter comeback in NBA playoff history, Paul Pierce and Eric Williams embraced at center court. Jim O’Brien and his staff ran off the court screaming in joy. Fans danced, hugged, and even cried. When Antoine Walker and Pierce both bounded on top of press row at center court, pumping their fists in the air, it only further roused an already delirious FleetCenter crowd. “I've never been a part of anything like this in my life," Walker said. "To see my guys fight the way we fought, to be down 21; they could have easily packed it in. But we fought 'til the end."

Compiled by Reagan Berube

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