On This Day in 2002: Paul Pierce Leads Celtics to an Improbable Comeback!

I NEED the Celtics back in my life. Seriously, it’s been too long since I’ve watched Celtics basketball. This year’s team was special in terms of their chemistry and on-court productivity. But today, we’re not talking about the 2019-2020 Celtics. We’re bringing it back to 2002 when the Celtics had a young Paul Pierce and were playing the New Jersey Nets in the Eastern Conference Finals. On this day back in 2002, the Celtics overcame a 21 point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat the Nets in game three of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Setting the Scene

The series was tied at one game a piece heading to the T.D. Garden. Keep in mind, the Nets had a really good team at this point. This Nets team had Keith Van Horn, Jason Kidd, Kerry Kittles, Kenyon Martin, and Richard Jefferson. The Celtics countered with a young and thriving Paul Pierce, a veteran sharpshooter in Antoine Walker, a solid point guard in Kenny Anderson, along with other pieces such as Eric Williams, Tony Battie, and Walter McCarty. New Jersey came into the garden and dominated the first three quarters of play. The game went into the fourth quarter with the Nets up 74-53. This Celtics team needed an improbable comeback to take command of this series.

Paul Pierce to the Rescue

Pierce finished this game with 28 points. But you wouldn’t think he played well heading into the fourth quarter. Well, that’s because…he wasn’t. He only had nine points and was struggling from the field. On the game, Pierce finished 8-21 from the field, including going 0-5 from three point range. So how did Pierce score? He used quick first steps and drove to the basket. He ended up getting fouled a ton and went 12-15 from the free throw line in that game. If you want to see it for yourself, then here you go.

The Supporting Cast

Pierce wasn’t the only one to carry the Celtics in their comeback. Kenny Anderson contributed with 15 points and a huge steal at the end of the game to solidify the win for the Celtics. Antoine Walker finished with 23 points on the night. You also can’t forget Walker getting on Pierce on the sidelines and Pierce immediately responding. There was also solid defensive play from Rodney Rogers and a big shot from Tony Delk thrown in there for some good fun. The case helped Pierce when he needed them the most.

In Conclusion

This comeback was unreal. Imagine being the Nets in that scenario? For some teams, that’s the end of their season. The Nets responded well, credit to them, and won the next three games to make it to the finals. But this game will always be legendary in Celtics history. This was a sign of things to come for Paul Pierce. He may not have won the NBA title that season. But, he got his in 2008. So enjoy your Memorial Day with a trip down memory lane with this classic Celtics comeback. Stay safe today everyone!

-Al Nahigian (@BigAl2793)

What Do You Think? Leave a Comment!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: