It's What We Do

Get used to it, America. It is Boston. Come-from-behind victories are our specialty. It’s just what we do.

This year’s 2008 NBA Finals looks eerily familiar to Boston fans. In the post-season the 2007-20088 Celtics slightly resembles the 2004 Red Sox and it can only mean one thing: championship banner #17.

Now what exactly do I mean by the Celtics resembling the ’04 Sox?

When the Sox won their first World Series championship for the first time in 86 years, they did so after making history, in ANY sport – coming back from a 3-0 deficit to the Yankees in the ALCS. The Sox hit rock bottom when New York won Game Three 19-8 and it looked for sure as if the Yankees would be heading back to the World Series. But the Sox stepped up their game with four, one-game series starting with a clutch come-from-behind win against one of the best closers in baseball, Mariano Rivera.

Leading the series two games to the Lakers one, the Celtics found themselves down 21-points at the end of the first quarter. With Los Angeles playing the role of New York, Boston – once again – “Cowboy’d Up,” to quote former Sox first baseman Kevin Millar, and mounted their comeback. They started slowly, chipping away at the lead and grinding it out like Tiger Woods when his A-game as escaped him. It all started with another number 34, the Captain and The Truth, Paul Pierce. (It always comes back to the number 34 in Boston, doesn’t it?)

As the Sox climbed on the back of Ortiz in 2004, the Celtics did the same to Pierce. Pierce led them back from a 24-point deficit, at one point, to giving the Lakers their first home playoff loss this season. Being one of the more physical players on the Celtics, the Celtics captain started doing what he does best, driving his way to the basket for either the lay-in, the foul or to kick it back out to the perimeter. Not bad for guy who had to be carried off the court by Brian Scalabrine and trainers in the first half of Game One after injuring his right knee on play under the basket.

Huh? That kind of sounds familiar too, doesn’t it? Does anybody remember Curt Schilling and the bloody sock of the ALCS?

After Schilling had to leave Game One in the third inning with the infamous right ankle injury leading to a disastrous 10-7 loss, renowned orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Bill Morgan, implemented a temporary surgical fix. In the surgery, Dr. Morgan placed three surgical sutures into Schilling’s ankle to avoid the tendon snapping over the pitcher’s ankle bone, allowing him to start Game Six. Although he was in the later stages of his storied career, Schilling risked what time he had left to bring home the Red Sox’s first World Championship in 86 years. We all know the story of Game Six, the Sox went on to win the game 4-2 against Jon Lieber while Schilling’s blood stained the white sock from the sutures became as famous as the right hander himself.

Pierce’s Game One knee injury against the Lakers at the TD Banknorth Garden turned out not to be all too serious but it appeared as if it was going to be worse than it was. That is the reason why Celtic fans cheered him heavily when he came bouncing out of the tunnel from the locker room. Just like Schilling, Pierce was not going to let his team down and against the words of the team medical staff, the small forward tried to put wait on his right knee. When he was able to do that he there was no stopping him. He was going to head back to the court and get back into the game. Game Four’s comeback can be traced back to this moment.

The man’s a warrior. He has been through more in his professional basketball career than most players. Not only has he suffered through six losing seasons and never made it past the Conference Finals, Pierce also had to overcome the “stabbing incident” that occurred outside a Boston club in 2000. He is the ultimate team player, unlike his counterpart wearing yellow and purple, and can put the team on his back and lead them to victory as he did in Game Four.

To compare the 2007-2008 Celtics even more to the 2004 Red Sox, Ray Allen’s baseline drive to basket past the Lakers soft power forward, Pau Gasol was reminiscent of Dave Roberts steal of second in Game Four in 2004.

Come-from-behind victories have become the M.O. of Boston. It can be traced back to Super Bowl XXXVI when the young Tom Brady lead the Patriots down field with just over a minute left in the game to set up Adam Vinatieri’s game winning field goal. Even in the 1999 and 2003 ALDS against the Cleveland Indians and Oakland Athletics, respectively, for the Sox.

There have only been three teams from the four major professional sports to have come back from a 3-1 series deficit and two of those times involved a Boston team. So even though the Los Angeles Lakers can make a come-back, I do not see that happening. Together, the Three Musketeers (Garnett, Allen and Pierce) will raise the NBA Trophy for the first time in their careers and will be the 17th time in Celtics history they own the right to call themselves the best team in the NBA.

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