Celtics, Pacers Renew Storied Rivalry
With the Indiana Pacers coming to town Wednesday night, it's once again time to get the Garden rocking, as the C's return home from their five-game road trip.
The Celtics and Pacers quickly have become one of the better rivalries in the NBA. The rivalry started when the teams first met in the playoffs in 1991 and 1992, and it strengthened when favorite son Larry Bird went back to coach and then run the Pacers front office. It hit its height when the C's and Pacers met in the first round in each of the past three playoffs, and it continues Wednesday night in Boston.
The Celtics are looking for a big win against their rival, so we thought we'd get everyone fired up and count the five greatest playoff wins the Celtics have had against the rival Pacers and let you, the fans, pick the top win. Read about each game below and then check out the poll on the Celtics.com homepage and vote for your favorite performance.
May 5, 1991 - Boston Garden
With the series on the line, Larry Legend put in one of his final memorable performances as a Celtic. Diving after a loose ball with 4:23 remaining in the second quarter, Bird hit the parquet and his face slammed the floor resulting in a bruise under the right eye, and a trip to the locker room. Then in Superman-like fashion, Bird charged out of the locker room resulting in mass delirium. After he re-entered the game with 6:46 left in the third quarter and Boston leading 73-71, the Celtics then went on a 39-25 run before Indiana nearly made a miraculous comeback by cutting Boston's lead to 122-121 with 3.4 seconds left. Boston barely held on to win 124-121, clinching the best of five series 3 games to 2 over the Indiana Pacers.
April 19, 2003 - Conseco Fieldhouse
The Celtics entered the 2003 Playoffs as the sixth seed and a huge underdog. Many experts predicted an Indiana sweep, but Paul Pierce (pictured left) wouldn't let that happen. In Game 1, Pierce went off for 40 points against nemesis Ron Artest, including a playoff record 21-for-21 from the free throw line. He also notched 11 boards, 6 assists and 4 steals in the Celtics 103-100 win at Indiana. The Game 1 win sent a message to the Pacers and gave the Celtics the confidence that they belonged in the series.
April 27, 2003 - FleetCenter
The Celtics entered Game 4 ahead two games to one and with a real chance to take control of a series in which they weren't supposed to have a chance. With the Celtics facing a 48-36 first half deficit, and knowing they didn't want to face a 2-2 series with two of the last three at Indiana, Paul Pierce put in one of the most outstanding performances in Celtics playoff history. Pierce scored 32 points in the second half, a Celtics playoff record for points in a half, highlighted by his dramatic buzzer-beating three at the end of the third quarter, with a trash talking Al Harrington right in his face. To go with a game-high 37 points, Pierce also pulled down 10 points for his third double-double of the series.
April 23, 2005 - FleetCenter
Known as the "Kids Game", the Celtics got huge performances from their young players, specifically Marcus Banks and Al Jefferson. The second unit put on a show in the second quarter as they outscored the Pacers 39-11, mainly due to the full-court defensive pressure put on by Banks and Delonte West. The Celtics took Game 1 going away, with 11 points from Banks and 8 points and 7 boards from Jefferson.
May 5, 2005 - Conseco Fieldhouse
The Celtics traveled back to Indiana for Game 6 with their season in the balance. They received an all-around team effort, as well as what might be considered Al Jefferson's coming out party to a national audience. Antoine Walker, Ricky Davis and Paul Pierce all put up 20+ points, while Walker, Pierce and Jefferson all recorded double-doubles as the Celtics won a 92-89 overtime decision in front of a hostile crowd. Jefferson (right) scored 11 points, but more importantly he dominated the glass with 14 boards, including an amazing eight on the offensive end.
Compiled by Brian Gleason