"It's about to be lights out." - Paul Pierce
For the first time in my 26 year old life, tonight while watching something in sports I thought to myself, with great certainty, that I'll never see this again.
You could feel it building. That in the same way that Boston's Game 4 comeback was only a matter of time due to their collective defensive effort, the Lakers may have competed tonight for a few brief moments, but between the crowd, the series and the moment...something was brewing and as a Celtic fan we could feel it. Just waiting to erupt.
And this time, when it finally started happening, there was no looking back.
When James Posey and Eddie House hit consecutive threes midway through the second quarter to put Boston up nine, it was merely a precursor. One steal and one more Posey three later, and this game was over. You didn't know it at the time, but it was.
Kevin Garnett's force of will three point play at the end of the first half was the exclamation point, but only on the first half. When Ray Allen came back onto the floor, he decided he was tired of other guys hitting the big threes in this series...and went on to hit a Finals-tying record 7 threes in Game 6, burying 19 in the six game series, a Finals record he owns alone.
And look, we'll get to some more enjoyable numbers later in what turned into a 131-92 win, but first - since it's the Lakers, there's two things I have to say.
First: take that.
There aren't words in the english language to describe what took place on that floor tonight. In this "rivalry renewed" Finals, it'll go down as incredibly memorable for Boston and its fans, with tonight's performance and this team making their own name for themselves - these Celtics against these Lakers in these 2008 Finals have now produced the biggest comeback in NBA Finals history, and the largest margin of victory in a clinching game in NBA Finals history. This Celtic team has done what no other Celtic team before them has done, and that's really saying something. To do it against the Lakers makes everything right.
Which brings me to my second point for the Lakers: shame on you.
If I was a Laker fan who didn't put myself on suicide watch after Game 4, I'm on homicide watch tonight.
Last time Boston was in the playoffs with a late run and the return of Antoine Walker in 2005, they played a tense seven game series with Indiana in the opening round. And in Game 7 - in Boston - the Celtics got beat by 27 points. And it was completely inexcuseable and is the most upset I've ever been with the Celtics franchise.
What the Lakers did tonight was so much worse.
This was the Finals. Game 6. Against your greatest rival, with "the best player on the planet" on your team and arguably the greatest head coach in NBA history, against a human Celtic team.
And once Boston went in front, this game was over.
Not only is it bad enough to be on the downside of a 39 point loss in The Finals, but you quit. You let the Celtics throw reverse alley-oops on you. You left Ray Allen more open than he's probably been in his entire NBA career. You let the Celtics break several NBA Finals records against you. You quit.
Not that we didn't enjoy it. But shame on you.
Just a quick scroll through the box score for the highlights:
MICHAEL JORDAN: 7 for 22.
RAJON RONDO: 21 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds, 6 steals, 0 questions
PAUL PIERCE: 17 points, 10 assists, a Finals MVP and a spot for #34 in the rafters
RAY ALLEN: 26 points, 7 of 9 from three
KEVIN GARNETT: 26 points, 14 rebounds and the most incoherent Finals postgame interview in the history of man. Top of the world!
JAMES POSEY: 11 points, 3 for 3 from 3, hit the biggest shots in the biggest games of these Finals
CELTICS REBOUNDS: +19 (+12 offensive)
CELTICS ASSIST/TURNOVER: +26
LAKERS ASSIST/TURNOVER: -3
I mean, I could do this all night.
To make this point again: this Celtic team distinguished themselves from all of Celtic lore to find their own unique path to win the 17th NBA Championship in franchise history. Pierce, Garnett, Allen and everyone - and that includes Doc Rivers, who everyone will now go from calling for his head one year ago to falling in love with the guy, and I'll happily be the first one in that line - these guys took the Celtics from the past to the present. Boston has been the best team all year, and became the champs by playing that way when it mattered most. This is a team that I'm sure had plenty of room on the bandwagon, but for longtime and long-suffering Celtic fans, you could not love them more.
I'll close with this - it's my grandparents who got me started on the Celtics, and really their love for sports that bleeds through to my Dad and down to me. As my grandmother approaches 80 she keeps leaving the best messages on my voice mail, reminding me each of the last two years that the Manning Family and their Super Bowl dramatics are going to literally put her in the ground for good. Tonight, she calls at halftime when we could both already taste it. She says that when Kevin Garnett talked in that interview about peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, she was so into everything that she had to get up and make one right away.
I laughed - because 600 miles away, I'd done the exact same thing.