The Celtics Heat rivalry was a ton of fun to watch over the years. At it's apex it was the two best teams in the East going at it (The last two Conference champs in the last five-years). It was old school vs new school. It was Pierce vs LeBron. Big Three vs Big Three. It was Walter 'Ray' Allen joining the enemy. It was die-hard Boston fans (Causeway Street) vs fair weather Miami fans (South Beach). It was the changing of the guard, as the Celtics were coming off their dominant years and the Heat began to take over the league. It was possibly the most anticipated matchup in the NBA for a three-year stretch.
Now both teams are fighting for their playoff lives and meet tonight in a huge game at the TD Garden. Before tonight's match let's re-live some of the best moments in the last five-years:
2010-11 Season opener of LeBron’s Big three ruined by Boston at the Garden
This is one of my personal favorites. LeBron had taken his talents to South Beach and the NBA had already anointed them as the NBA Champs without playing a single game. They famously declared the expectations of not one, not two, not three… not seven championships and were probably the most arrogant team never to play a game. The Celtics were coming off a crushing NBA Finals defeat and had different plans for new the look Heat. The game was physical, it was hard fought and came down to the final minutes. Ray Allen, then in Celtics green had 20 points, Paul Pierce had a double double and Rondo dished out 17 assists. Watching LeBron, Wade, and Bosh get their asses handed to them in their first game together and walking off to an OVERRATTED chant made the sting of game 7 loss in the 2010 Finals go away if only for one night.
Celtics beat Heat on Jeff Green's Buzzer Beater
This was one of the best moments in the Brad Stevens era of the Boston-Miami rivalry by far. The play call, the pass by Gerald Wallace, the dagger by Jeff Green in the corner over LeBron with only .06 seconds on the clock makes this one of my favorite plays of all-time. Yeah it was a meaningless win in a season the Celtics were clearly in tank mode, but looking back this capped off a three-game winning streak and instilled a never die attitude that has carried over to this year’s Celtics team.
(P.S. I’ve probably watched it 19 times today alone and I’m still amazed by Wallace pass, by far his best moment in a Celtics uniform.)
Eastern Conference Finals - Game 5 2012: Celtics get last Playoff win in Big-Three Era
The series was knotted at 2-2 and the Celtics, who many thought had no business even being in the ECF, were looking for a third straight victory to take a commanding 3-2 lead. Kevin Garnett had a monster game with 26 points 11 rebounds and 2 Blocks. Paul Pierce hit the biggest shot in the game drilling a three-ball over LeBron James with 57 seconds left to put the Celtics up by four. Then on the next trip down KG sunk two clutch free throws to seal it and the Celtics were heading back to Boston with to close out the Miami Heat. Unfortunately, LeBron injected himself with huge amounts of human growth hormone on the flight up to Boston and single handedly won the next two games. (just kidding about the HGH, just a personal theory I’m working on but I digress)
This game though was awesome on many levels, but it was really the last hoorah for the Celtics Big Three. After this season Ray Allen would go to play for the Heat and ruin everything, but this will go down as the last great victory for that era of Celtics basketball.
Eastern Conference Finals - Game 2 2012: Rondo makes it a Big Four
Rajon Rondo’s best game in a Celtics uniform unfortunately came in a loss to the Heat in game two of the Eastern Conference Finals. Rondo played OUT OF HIS MIND, just barely missing a triple double but posted a 44-10-8 line and shockingly shot 10 for 12 at the line. Even though it happened in a loss, this marked the moment every media pundit and NBA fan had to ask the question, could the Celtics win this and steal a finals birth away from the Heat?
NBA Playoffs Round 1 - Game 3 2010 – Vintage Pierce at the buzzer
Paul Pierce with a dagger. 11.7 seconds left everyone knows who is going to get the ball but you can’t stop the vintage Paul Pierce step back fade away. This gave the Celtics a 3-0 lead in a first round matchup with the Heat en route to the 2010 NBA finals in search of Banner 18. This is number one for many reasons. First off that buzzer beater is money, and secondly it shows just how dominant a team that 2010 Celtics team was. The Heat were an ok team with Dwayne Wade playing some of the best ball of his career and the Celtics threw them aside like it was nothing, winning the series 4-1. If only Kendrick Perkins could have played in Game 7 of the Finals, and the refs didn’t give away the game to the Lakers, we’d be talking about 2 championships in 3 years for the Celtics. I could go on for days about that year and that playoff run but just watch the video and reminisce for yourselves.
(Also, I totally forgot Michael Finley was on this team)
What were some of your favorite moments of this 'heated' rivalry?
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