Despite the Boston Celtics being eliminated in the playoffs by the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, there was no shortage of unforgettable moments produced by this young squad.
It was an eventful year filled with injuries, incredible comebacks, and talent in unexpected places, so it’s only appropriate to try and cut down which incidents were the best.
10. The birth of Guerschon “Dab”usele
you're welcome pic.twitter.com/9Tx7NF8G1X
— Kyle George (@kyoo) December 21, 2017
Alright, listen. I know this wasn’t a huge story—it was a three-point celebration invented by a rookie who averaged just over seven minutes per game. But not only was it funny, it was more than what one may see on the surface. To me, Yabusele’s celebration was symbolic of what most of this team had to offer. They were young, excited, and relaxed in the moment.
His dab also bonded the team as one, with the sidelines always set to erupt in celebration with a Yabusele three.
In fact, his signature dab was so loved that even the upcoming star Jayson Tatum decided to whip it out in a game.
9. Jaylen Brown coming up clutch
On Mar. 28, the Celtics were suffering from one of the shortest benches they had seen in a while. They were playing the Utah Jazz on the road, while Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, Marcus Morris, and more were sidelined with injuries.
At the time, Utah was sporting an incredible defense, and followed up the loss to Boston by stringing together six straight victories. Regardless, Boston did what they did best all season and closed the road trip at an improbable 4-0. The cherry on top was Jaylen Brown cashing in a straightaway three with 0.1 seconds on the clock.
— NBA (@NBA) March 29, 2018
In a play that was originally meant to end in a Shane Larkin layup, he decided to kick it out to Semi Ojeleye, who shoveled it towards Brown for the step-back game-winner.
8. Tommy Heinsohn delivering comedy at the highest level
Tommy Heinsohn has called Celtics games since the 60’s and has had some unforgettable moments along the way. Some of his best are undoubtedly the rants about officiating which you can hear any time he’s present, and also the “Tommy points” that are handed out with an animated tone.
One of his many remarkable calls came during their first preseason game in a 94-82 victory over the Charlotte Hornets.
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) October 3, 2017
7. Gordon Hayward working on his shot in a chair
We all know the story of how Hayward’s season was over before it started. While we didn’t get many highlights because of said injury, the All-Star forward did what he could to continue improving for next season.
— Danny Ainge (@danielrainge) November 6, 2017
Hayward did everything from sinking half-court bombs to holding a free throw contest versus Brian Scalabrine all while sitting in a chair. The fans loved the initiative and competitive drive in wake of a devastating injury, which showed he truly has Celtic spirit on and off the court.
6. Rozier literally stealing a game in Indiana, then becoming a star
What might be Terry Rozier’s best play of his career thus far happened on Dec. 18 in an away game against the Indiana Pacers.
The Celtics, who were still building their reputation as a team who should never be counted out, seemed to be well on the way to a loss that night. Indiana was up five with just over 30 seconds remaining, and their gameplan seemed simple. Milk the clock, get the ball into a good free throw shooter, knock them down when Boston inevitably fouls, and win the game.
Their plan quickly crumbled under the weight of two Kyrie Irving three’s, and the Pacers were suddenly clinging to a one-point lead with 9.3 seconds. Bojan Bogdanovic inbounded it to Cory Joseph, who immediately tossed it back before a foul was called. Bogdanovic panicked when Boston trapped him on the sideline, and instead of holding on to the ball and getting fouled, decided to try getting away with a high pass to Victor Oladipo. The rest is history.
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) December 19, 2017
About a month following this incredible steal and dunk, Rozier was given a larger role while Irving was sidelined with a quad injury.
His first start happened back on Jan. 31 in a home game against the New York Knicks. Rozier piled up 17 points, 11 boards, and 10 assists en route to a 103-73 blowout victory.
He remained on fire in his second start, where the 24-year-old dropped a then career-high 31 points. The high scoring output was paired with seven rebounds, and Rozier garnered more attention while building his resume as a quality guard.
5. Jayson Tatum dunking on LeBron James
This event is the most recent on the entire list, but man was it marvelous. Rookie Jayson Tatum attacked the rim, and when he rose to slam it home only one man stood in the way—LeBron James. Tatum got the better of it, which is a complete 180 from his first field goal attempt in the NBA, which was swatted away by James.
Jayson Tatum POSTERIZED LeBron pic.twitter.com/Xse7TL5ort
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) May 28, 2018
The 20-year-old followed it up with a three-pointer to take the lead, but his efforts fell short as Boston ended up losing 87-79.
4. Philadelphia’s premature celebration
Ah, the hilarious idea of dropping confetti after winning a single playoff game, and apparently even when you lose.
The Celtics had a two point lead late in regulation of game three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, when a wild deep two from Marco Belinelli forced overtime as time expired.
Apparently, the memo that he was on the line didn’t make it to everyone, and the court was showered in red, white, and blue confetti which delayed an eventual Celtics’ win.
The 76ers thought they won the game in regulation.
They had to clean up the confetti before OT. pic.twitter.com/bpah6R9TYe
— ESPN (@espn) May 5, 2018
This victory allowed Boston to escape with a commanding 3-0 series lead, which to me was the bigger picture of the confetti fiasco.
Because of the substantial injuries Boston was having to deal with, teams and analysts counted them out repeatedly. Even after proving their ability to run with the best by handling both the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers, nobody expected them to be any threat to LeBron James’ Cavaliers.
Even though this challenge proved to be too much, they forced seven games and were a normal shooting night away from advancing to the Finals.
Next year, you can bet nobody will be celebrating before actually defeating the Celtics.
3. Paul Pierce’s last hurrah
This season, fans had the pleasure of seeing Paul Pierce’s iconic No. 34 being raised to the rafters.
No. 34 heads to the rafters in TD Garden! ☘️ pic.twitter.com/TKwcxHwCRS
— NBA TV (@NBATV) February 12, 2018
This event came shortly after a blowout loss to the recently rebranded Cleveland Cavaliers.
Pierce was the main character of the Celtics’ most recent championship in 2008, and this night gave everyone an excuse to remember an amazing team, player, and story.
2. “Suck my d***!”
— Life of a Philly Fan (@PhillyFanLife) October 21, 2017
Need I say more?
1. Marcus Smart completing an impossible comeback
The Celtics’ most impressive resurgence in a game this season happened on Dec. 28, when Boston somehow managed to overcome a 26-point deficit against an elite team, the Houston Rockets.
Boston never so much as tasted a lead until the closing seconds, when an indescribable turn of events took place.
Marcus Smart…. We dont appreciate you enough an I apologize ☘️pic.twitter.com/7xLnfuCCqt
— CELTICS NATION ☘️ (@CelticsNation5) December 29, 2017
Hearing the TD Garden erupt as Marcus Smart drew not one, but two offensive fouls on James Harden and watching the game be pried away from Houston’s grip will forever be one of my all-time favorite moments.