Season Review: 2007-08
Take a look back at the 2007-08 NBA season, in which the Celtics emerged as NBA champions.
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Every season is marked by news, trades, win streaks, statistical feats and more. Rare are the seasons when so many of them are packed into a single campaign, but that was exactly what the 2007-08 season brought from start to finish.
Frustrated from years of postseason eliminations in Minnesota, Timberwolves superstar Kevin Garnett got a fresh start with a trade to the Boston Celtics on July 31, 2007. As a part of the Celtics’ massive offseason overhaul, Boston also acquired sharpshooting All-Star guard Ray Allen from the Seattle SuperSonics. At long last, Boston’s resident star, Paul Pierce, had a pair of fellow standouts alongside him.
News outside the basketball world affected the NBA in 2007 as well when Hurricane Katrina made landfall near New Orleans on August 29, 2005. For the previous two seasons, the New Orleans Hornets had split time between their home city and Oklahoma City as Louisiana recovered from the storm. The 2007-08 season marked the Hornets’ first full campaign in New Orleans since 2004-05.
Once the 2007-08 season got rolling, more news kept coming. The Sonics had called Seattle home since their inception in 1967-68, but in early November, the team let the NBA know it would be moving to Oklahoma City for the 2008-09 season. Much of Seattle’s move was tied to the fact KeyArena was not generating enough revenue to keep the Sonics in town.
On the court in 2007-08, milestone moments seemed to be the norm. The Los Angeles Lakers got off to a 26-11 start thanks to the standout play from that season’s eventual MVP, Kobe Bryant. On Dec. 24, 2007, Bryant became the youngest player to score 20,000 career points when he did so at 29 years, 122 days old. He showed a maturity in his game as the Lakers’ star, averaging 28.3 ppg as he more willingly deferred to his teammates to power L.A. to a West-leading 57-25 mark.
Houston had a milestone moment in the midst of the 2007-08 season as they rang up 22 straight wins from Jan. 29 to March 18, 2008 — doing most of it without injured All-Star center Yao Ming. Also in January, the NBA granted the Miami Heat a 51.9-second replay of their overtime game on Dec. 19, 2007 against the Atlanta Hawks. That game was replayed because the official scorer incorrectly ruled that Heat center Shaquille O’Neal had fouled out, marking the first do-over NBA game since 1982. (The Hawks would go on to win that do-over game and a new Heat-Hawks game on March 8 in a doubleheader.)
The trade deadline provided plenty of excitement around the NBA as well as a number of All-Star players shifted locales for the season’s stretch run and playoffs. The Lakers pulled off a stunning trade in landing Memphis Grizzlies superstar and All-Star big man Pau Gasol. Other teams in the West kept up in the arms race with the Lakers, too: the Mavericks swung a trade that brought Jason Kidd back to Dallas, while Phoenix dealt Shawn Marion to the Heat for O’Neal.
In the East, the Cleveland Cavaliers were hungry for another Finals run after their inaugural trip there in 2007. The Cavs got into a three-team deal that netted Cleveland former Defensive Player of the Year Ben Wallace, former All-Star Wally Szczerbiak and wily veterans Delonte West and Joe Smith. The Hawks were primed to end their long playoff drought and pulled a trade, too, picking up Mike Bibby from the Sacramento Kings.
As strong as the Lakers were, though, the rest of the West proved formidable. The Hornets took flight with a 56-26 season sparked by their All-Star duo of David West and Chris Paul. In San Antonio, the Spurs finished 56-26 as well and rode Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili to great success. The Phoenix Suns, Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz rounded out the West’s top six teams, with 50-win teams in Dallas and Denver rounding things out.
Before 2007-08 got started, many wondered whether Pierce, Garnett and Allen could coexist in Boston. That was quickly put to rest, though, as Boston got off to an 18-2 start and finished an NBA-best 66-16 — the Celtics’ best regular-season mark since going 67-15 in 1985-86. In addition, the Celtics pulled off the best single-season turnaround in league history, improving by 24 wins from their 2006-07 finish.
The Detroit Pistons still had championship mettle and finished 59-23. Two young, up-and-coming teams in the East — the Cavs and Orlando Magic — provided solid chase for Detroit’s No. 2 spot. Washington, Toronto and Philadelphia rounded out spots No. 5-7 and Atlanta made the playoffs for the first time since 1999 as well.
In the playoffs, the spry Hawks gave the Celtics all it could handle in the first round, pushing it to a Game 7 (which Boston won by a landslide). Also in the first round, the Cavs won a chippy series against the Wizards, while the Magic and Pistons made it look easy. Boston and Cleveland waged a classic series in the East semis in which Boston’s other veterans (James Posey, P.J. Brown and others) delivered in a Game 7 win. After that, Boston dropped Detroit in Game 6 to reach its first Finals since 1987.
In the West, the infusion of Gasol to the Lakers’ lineup had L.A. looking fierce for the playoffs. The first round featured the Hornets ousting the West’s defending champions, the Mavs, in five games. Phoenix’s trade for O’Neal went bust in the playoffs as he wasn’t much of a factor against the rival Spurs in a five-game series loss. The Lakers did not disappoint overall, sweeping the Nuggets in the first round and outlasting the Jazz in the West semifinals before dropping the Spurs in Game 5 to reach The Finals.
In The Finals, the drama between the Lakers and Celtics was renewed. In Game 1, Pierce appeared to injure his knee on an awkward fall and was taken off the court in a wheelchair. However, he returned minutes later and helped spark Boston to a Game 1 win. Up 2-1 in the series but facing a big deficit in Game 4, the Celtics climbed from a 35-14 hole to stun the Lakers. After faltering in Game 5, the Celtics decimated the Lakers in Game 6 to give Garnett, Allen and Pierce their long-sought championship and Boston’s 17th NBA title overall.
Eastern Conference first round
Boston defeated Atlanta (4-3)
Cleveland defeated Washington (4-2)
Detroit defeated Philadelphia (4-2)
Orlando defeated Toronto (4-1)
Western Conference first round
Los Angeles Lakers defeated Denver (4-0)
New Orleans defeated Dallas (4-1)
San Antonio defeated Phoenix (4-1)
Utah defeated Houston (4-2)
Eastern Conference semifinals
Boston defeated Cleveland (4-3)
Detroit defeated Orlando (4-1)
Western Conference semifinals
Los Angeles Lakers defeated Utah (4-2)
San Antonio defeated New Orleans (4-3)
Eastern Conference finals
Boston defeated Detroit (4-2)
Western Conference finals
Los Angeles Lakers defeated San Antonio (4-1)
Boston defeated Los Angeles Lakers (4-2)
Points — LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers (30.0)
Assists — Chris Paul, New Orleans Orleans (11.6)
Rebounds — Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic (14.2)
Steals — Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets (2.7)
Blocks — Marcus Camby, Denver Nuggets (3.6)
FG% — Andris Biedrins, Golden State Warriors (62.6)
FT% — Peja Stojakovic, New Orleans Orleans (92.9)
3PT% — Jason Kapono, Toronto Raptors (48.3)
Most Valuable Player — Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Rookie of the Year — Kevin Durant, Seattle Supersonics
Defensive Player of the Year — Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics
Most Improved Player — Hedo Turkoglu, Orlando Magic
Sixth Man of the Year –Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs
Coach of the Year — Byron Scott, New Orleans Hornets
All-Star Game MVP — LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
Finals MVP — Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics