On March 4th, El Mundo and the Boston Celtics are proud to present the FIRST EVER “Noche Latina” at the TD Garden. For one night only, El Mundo will transform the fan experience at the TD Garden and celebrate the best of what Latino culture has to offer while fans cheer for the team in green. To purchase tickets CLICK HERE.
By: Elvis Jocol Lara
Earlier, the El Mundo staff put our heads together to come up with the top 10 moments from the Celtics’ “New Big Three” era. The “New Big Three” of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen provided the first introduction to Celtic pride for many Latinos and will forever be remembered in households from East Boston to Lawrence and beyond.
Today, we take a look at the top individual plays from 2007 to 2013 in Celtics history. It was tough to pick just ten so we weaseled out by creating an honorable mention. Many might disagree with the order of the final rankings, but we’re sure you’ll agree with the plays included. As before, make sure to sound off in the comments and let us know what your list looks like.
Rajon Rondo dunks on Dwight Howard
Towards the end of the 2000’s the Celtics and Magic engaged in multiple heated playoff series with each team emerging victorious once apiece. Dwight Howard was an imposing figure in the post for the Orlando Magic, but on this particular play, Rajon Rondo, never bashful to go up against the best in the NBA, slammed home a monstrous dunk that sent the Garden crowd into a frenzy
“The Inbounds Play”
With the 2010 NBA Finals tied at 2 games apiece, game 5 was a pivotal matchup. Holding the lead in the final seconds, the Celtics were facing full court pressure from the Lakers and nearly turned the ball over. However, with a little luck of the Irish, Paul Pierce was able to save the ball to Rajon Rondo who blazed down the court and finished with a trick shot to seal the victory and give the Celtics a 3-2 series lead. The play would certainly be in our top 10 had the Celtics won the series.
Paul Pierce torments the Knicks… again
Over his 15 years in Boston, Paul Pierce had a knack for playing his best at the “Mecca of Basketball,” Madison Square Garden. On this night in December 2010, Pierce broke the heart of Knicks fans yet again (and sent Nate Robinson tumbling during the ensuing celebration).
Rondo Alley oop sends game into OT
Before Lebron James took his talents to South Beach, the Celtics were already hated by fans in South Florida. In a regular season game in 2010, the Heat thought they had a victory all but secured, but an amazing play drawn up by Doc Rivers – and perfectly executed by Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo with 0.6 seconds – left sent the game into overtime.
The Top 10
10. Paul Pierce hits game winner vs Heat in 2010 first round
The Celtics continued to be a thorn in the side of the Miami Heat in 2010, defeating the Dwyane Wade-led team 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs. In textbook Paul Pierce fashion, “The Truth” hit a step-back elbow jumper at the buzzer in game 3 to give the Celtics a 3-0 series lead.
9. Big Baby beats Magic at the buzzer; pushes kid
The Celtics entered the 2009 NBA Playoffs looking to defend their NBA Championship title but without Kevin Garnett. Glen “Big Baby” Davis stepped in admirably in “KG’s” absence and even hit this improbable game winner on the road. In one of the more bizarre moments of the era, Davis pushed a young Orlando fan out of his way as he celebrated the shot, setting off a firestorm of controversy in the national media.
8. Ray Allen sinks the Knicks in game 1 of 2011 Playoff series
The Celtics and Knicks met in the first round of the 2011 playoffs, immediately rekindling memories of epic playoff battles of the past. Game 1 of the series did not disappoint, as Ray Allen drained a killer three with only seconds on the clock to put the Celtics ahead for good. The Celts would go on to sweep the series.
7. Rajon Rondo Amazing dish to Pietrus in Eastern Conference Finals
Interlocked in yet another heated battle with the hated Miami Heat, the Celtics needed a bucket to inch closer in the 4th quarter and avoid going down 3-2 in the series. Following an impressive Dwyane Wade block on Brandon Bass, Rajon Rondo redirected the loose ball which somehow landed in the hands of Mickael Pietrus. Pietrus knocked down the shot to finish the amazing play and pull the Celtics – who would go onto to win the game – within 3 points.
6. Rondo Dives for Ball and scores in 2010 Eastern Conference Finals
In a play that many feel will go down in Celtics history among the all time greats, Rondo demonstrated what Celtics pride is all about. In a pivotal Eastern Conference Finals play, he out hustled the Magic’s Jason Williams on a loose ball, diving to the floor and finishing the play with a lay up. The play helped the Celtics avenge their 2009 playoff elimination at the hands of the Orlando Magic and send them back to the NBA Finals.
5. Ray Allen’s improbable game winner vs. the Charlotte Bobcats
This wasn’t a playoff game, nor was it even against a top tier opponent. This play makes the list simply due to the sheer insanity of the events that unfolded. Down by 2 with only seconds to go, the Celtics were on DEFENSE. A tip of the inbound pass set the ball loose and it was recovered by Paul Pierce who, with outstanding instincts, immediately passed to Ray Allen who sunk the game winning three. This most improbable of plays was the first great moment of the Celtics’ new “Big Three” era and served notice to the league that the Celtics were for real.
4. Ray Allen Game winner vs. the Chicago Bulls
In a series for the ages that included 7 games and 7 overtime periods, the Bulls drew first blood on the Celtics’ home court. Faced with the prospect of going to Chicago down 2 games to 0, Ray Allen saved the day yet again with a back breaking 3 pointer to give the Celtics the victory.
3. Kevin Garnett Bank shot and the foul
To many, Kevin Garnett was the heart and soul of the Boston Celtics. In game 6 of the NBA Finals, with the Celtics up by 18 points and on their way to securing their first championship in 20 years, KG put an emphatic cap to the night with a ridiculous hanging shot in the lane over Pau Gasol, that hit off the backboard and drew the foul. The shot epitomized the Celtics dominance in the game and sent the Garden crowd into hysteria. Mark Jackson said it best: “Mama there goes that man.”
2. Rondo Fakes Lebron James out of his shoes; Tony Allen slams it home
During the new “Big Three” era, Lebron James was public enemy number one in Boston which made this play all the sweeter. In the second round of the 2010 NBA Playoffs, the Celtics found themselves in a heated battle with “King James.” Things started rocky for the Celtics in the series but the tide began to shift in game 4. Looking to tie the series, the Celtics offered an inspired performance at home, capping it off with this spectacular play and making Lebron look foolish. The Celtics went onto defeat the Cavaliers in the series and end Lebron’s first term in Cleveland.
1. Paul Pierce drills three pointer over Lebron James
Paul Pierce and Lebron James engaged in quite possibly the greatest individual rivalry the NBA has seen this century. While Pierce was in Boston, the two players went head to head on 4 occasions with each coming out victorious twice. In 2012, the Celtics were left for dead by most analysts after falling behind 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Celts, however, would win both games in Boston to tie the series and set up a crucial game 5 in Miami. Most prognosticators had the Heat winning the battle, but it was the Celtics who held a slim lead with less than a minute to go in the fourth quarter. Pierce, facing an individual duel with Lebron yet again, pulled up and nailed the three pointer in his face, giving the Celtics a four point advantage and, eventually, the game 5 victory. Unbeknownst to Celtics fans at the time, the play would mark the final great play for this era of Celtics.
The Celtics victory in Game 5 of the 2012 NBA Eastern Conference Finals shocked the fans in Miami leaving them all silent… all, that is, except one plucky young fan who stood by his team offering them encouraging words of “Good job! Good effort!” as the Heat walked off the court. The young fan gave Celtics fans and media great fodder to discuss before game 6.
How does this list compare to yours? Share your top moments with us in the comments below and make sure to attend the first ever Boston Celtics Noche Latina presented by El Mundo on March 4th.
Elvis Jocol Lara is Director of Digital Media at El Mundo, Founder and President of Casa Guatemala and an experienced Marketing professional who has worked with some of the world’s leading brands. A child of Guatemalan immigrants, he was born in Boston and raised in Waltham, MA. Follow him on Twitter @ElChapin