2008 NBA Finals

2008 NBA Finals
2008 NBA Finals
2008 NBA Finals.png
Team Coach Wins
Boston Celtics Doc Rivers 4
Los Angeles Lakers Phil Jackson 2
Dates: June 5 - 17
MVP: Paul Pierce
(Boston Celtics)
Television: ABC (U.S.)
TSN (Canada)
Announcers: Mike Breen, Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy
Radio network: ESPN
Announcers: Mike Tirico, Jim Durham (Game 4) and Hubie Brown
Game 1: Dick Bavetta, Scott Foster, Eddie Rush
Game 2: Dan Crawford, Bob Delaney, Ken Mauer
Game 3: Joe Crawford, Bennett Salvatore, Mark Wunderlich
Game 4: Joe DeRosa, Steve Javie, Tom Washington
Game 5: Dick Bavetta, Scott Foster, Ken Mauer
Game 6: Joe Crawford, Eddie Rush, Bennett Salvatore
Hall of Famers: Coaches:
Phil Jackson (2007)
Eastern Finals: Celtics defeated Pistons, 4–2
Western Finals: Lakers defeated Spurs, 4–1
 < 2007 NBA Finals 2009 > 

The 2008 NBA Finals was the championship series of the 2007–08 NBA season, and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Boston Celtics, top-seeded champions of the Eastern Conference, defeated the Los Angeles Lakers, top-seeded champions of the Western Conference, four games to two in a best-of-seven series. This was Boston's first title since 1986 and 17th overall.

2008 marked the first time since 2000 that the top seeds from both conferences met in the Finals and the first time since 2003 that any top seeded team played in the NBA finals. The Lakers appeared in the Finals for the first time since 2004 and a record 29th time overall. The Celtics appeared in the Finals for the first time since 1987 and second-best 20th time overall.

Going into the series, the Celtics had won the most championships all-time with 16, and the Lakers were second with 14. The two clubs, the most successful teams in NBA history, looked to renew a longstanding rivalry 21 years after their last Finals meeting in 1987. They narrowly missed meeting each other in 2002, when the Lakers advanced to the Finals, but the Celtics, who led 2-1 in the Conference Finals, eventually fell to the favored New Jersey Nets 4-2. This was the 11th time the teams met in the championship round; the Celtics won eight of their previous ten Finals meetings against the Lakers, winning in 1959, 1962, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969 and 1984—the Lakers won in 1985 and 1987.

The Celtics' 66–16 record gave them home court advantage over Los Angeles (57–25). This was the first time since 1997, when the Chicago Bulls beat the Utah Jazz for the championship, and the only time in the 2000s decade that an Eastern Conference team had the home court advantage and the first Finals since 1998 not to feature either Tim Duncan or Shaquille O'Neal.

Rodd Houston narrated the Boston Celtics' championship season documentary on NBA Entertainment. The made-for-TV version of this documentary is narrated by Kevin Harlan.


Series summary

Game Date Home Team Result Road Team
Game 1 Thursday, June 5 Boston Celtics 98-88 (1-0) Los Angeles Lakers
Game 2 Sunday, June 8 Boston Celtics 108-102 (2-0) Los Angeles Lakers
Game 3 Tuesday, June 10 Los Angeles Lakers 87-81 (1-2) Boston Celtics
Game 4 Thursday, June 12 Los Angeles Lakers 91-97 (1-3) Boston Celtics
Game 5 Sunday, June 15 Los Angeles Lakers 103-98 (2-3) Boston Celtics
Game 6 Tuesday, June 17 Boston Celtics 131-92 (4-2) Los Angeles Lakers


2008 NBA Playoffs

Los Angeles Lakers (Western Conference Champion) Boston Celtics (Eastern Conference Champion)
57–25 (.695)
1st Pacific, 1st West, 3rd overall
Regular season 66–16 (.805)
1st Atlantic, 1st East, 1st overall
Defeated the (8) Denver Nuggets, 4–0 First Round Defeated the (8) Atlanta Hawks, 4–3
Defeated the (4) Utah Jazz, 4–2 Conference Semifinals Defeated the (4) Cleveland Cavaliers, 4–3
Defeated the (3) San Antonio Spurs, 4–1 Conference Finals Defeated the (2) Detroit Pistons, 4–2

Regular season series

The Boston Celtics won both games in the regular season series:

November 23, 2007 Recap Los Angeles Lakers 94, Boston Celtics 107    TD Banknorth Garden, Boston KCAL, CSN
December 30, 2007 Recap Boston Celtics 110, Los Angeles Lakers 91    Staples Center, Los Angeles NBA TV

Game summaries

All times listed below are Eastern Daylight Time.[1]

Game 1

June 5
9:00 pm
Recap Los Angeles Lakers 88, Boston Celtics 98    TD Banknorth Garden, Boston
Attendance: 18,624
ABC, TSN, Cuatro, Canal+, Canal 7
Scoring by quarter: 21–23, 30–23, 22–31, 15–21
Pts: Bryant 24
Rebs: Gasol 8
Asts: Bryant, Fisher 6
TOs: Bryant 4
Pts: Garnett 24, Pierce 22
Rebs: Garnett 13
Asts: Rondo 7
Stls: Posey 2
Game 1 running score.

Paul Pierce scored 15 points in the third quarter to give Boston the lead for good, and Kevin Garnett paced the Celtic attack with 24 points and 13 rebounds including a powerful two-handed putback dunk late in the game. Kobe Bryant struggled with his shooting touch, finishing 9–26 from the field with 24 points.

Pierce apparently injured his knee by falling awkwardly on Kendrick Perkins' leg, and was taken off the court in a wheelchair. Despite what Pierce's reaction suggested was a highly debilitating injury, he returned to action minutes later to raucous cheering from the crowd. Some suggested [2] later that the episode was orchestrated by Pierce as an inspirational "Willis Reed moment". He soon hit two three-pointers on consecutive offensive possessions that gave Boston the lead for good and finished with 22 points.

The Lakers, who had had home court advantage throughout the first three rounds and had not trailed a series in that same time, now had to do without both luxuries for the first time.

Game 2

June 8
9:00 pm
Recap Los Angeles Lakers 102, Boston Celtics 108    TD Banknorth Garden, Boston
Attendance: 18,624
ABC, TSN, Cuatro, Canal+, Canal 7
Scoring by quarter: 22–20, 20–34, 19–29, 41–25
Pts: Bryant 30
Rebs: Radmanović, Gasol 10
Asts: Bryant 8
TOs: Bryant 4
Pts: Pierce 28, Powe 21
Rebs: Garnett 14
Asts: Rondo 16
3P-FG: Pierce 4/4
The opening tipoff of Game 2
Leon Powe (center) had a memorable performance in Game 2

The Lakers jumped out to an early 15–8 first quarter lead, but the Celtics answered with a 10–0 run at the start of the second quarter and ended the first half with a 54–42 lead.

The Celtics held a 24-point lead with less than eight minutes to go in the 4th quarter before the Lakers cut the lead to two points with 38.4 seconds to go with a 31-9 run. Paul Pierce and James Posey then closed out the game with two free throws each. The Lakers had a chance to cut into Boston's four point lead with 14 seconds left, but the ball failed to get into the hands of Kobe Bryant, resulting in a shot by Saša Vujačić that was blocked by Pierce. Bryant finished the game with 30 points and 8 assists.

Leon Powe, a second year bench player, scored 21 points on 6–7 shooting from the field and 9-13 from the line in 15 minutes of play, including back-to-back dunks in the last minute of the 3rd quarter. Over the course of the game, Leon Powe shot 13 free throws while the Lakers shot 10.

Despite injuries suffered by Pierce (sprained knee) and Kendrick Perkins (high ankle sprain), both players started in Game 2 and appeared to be mostly unhampered by the injuries, especially Pierce who finished with 28 points.

Boston finished the game 27-for-38 from the line, while the Lakers were 10-for-10. Some analysts viewed this as favorable treatment toward the Celtics,[3][4] while others noted that a difference in playing styles may have led to the discrepancy, and that the actual foul discrepancy was only 28–21 in favor of Boston.[5]

Game 3

June 10
6:00 pm
Video highlights
Boston Celtics 81, Los Angeles Lakers 87    Staples Center, Los Angeles
Attendance: 18,997
ABC, TSN, Cuatro, Canal+, Canal 7
Scoring by quarter: 20–20, 17–23, 25–17, 19–27
Pts: Allen 25
Rebs: Garnett 12
Asts: Garnett 5
FG: Pierce 2/14
Pts: Bryant 36, Vujačić 20
Rebs: Gasol 12
Asts: Farmar 5
3P-FG: Vujačić 3/5

The Lakers won game 3 on a strong shooting night from regular season MVP Kobe Bryant, who scored a series-high 36 points, leading the Lakers to their first series win and adding to their undefeated streak at home in the 2008 post-season. Saša Vujačić scored 20 points in 28 minutes, Paul Pierce had a poor shooting game, making only two of his 14 field goal attempts. Kevin Garnett also had trouble shooting, finishing with only 12 points. Ray Allen was the only member of Boston's Big Three that scored over 13 points, with 25.

Game 4

June 12
6:00 pm
Video highlights
Boston Celtics 97, Los Angeles Lakers 91    Staples Center, Los Angeles
Attendance: 18,997
  • No. 14 Joe DeRosa
  • No. 29 Steve Javie
  • No. 49 Tom Washington
ABC, TSN, Cuatro, Canal+, Canal 7
Scoring by quarter: 14–35, 26–23, 31–15, 26–18
Pts: Pierce 20, Allen 19
Rebs: Garnett 11
Asts: Pierce 7
Stls: Allen 3
Pts: Odom 19
Rebs: Gasol, Odom 10
Asts: Bryant 10
FG: Bryant 6/19

The Lakers jumped out to a 35–14 lead after the first quarter, which was the largest first-quarter lead in NBA Finals history. The Lakers held their ground for most of the third quarter, leading by as many as 24 points. However, the Celtics went on a 21–3 run to end the third quarter, closing the deficit to only two points (73–71). With 4:07 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Celtics took their first lead in the game when Celtics' reserve Eddie House made an 18-foot (5.5 m) jumper. With House's shot, the Celtics were in the lead for good. The Celtics' victory in Game 4 was the largest comeback in the NBA Finals since 1971.[6]

Kobe Bryant had 17 points on 6 of 19 shooting from the field to go along with 10 assists. The Celtics bench outscored the Lakers bench 35–15, 29 of those points coming from House and James Posey. Kevin Garnett finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds in support of Allen(19) and Pierce(20).

Game 5

June 15
6:00 pm
Video highlights
Boston Celtics 98, Los Angeles Lakers 103    Staples Center, Los Angeles
Attendance: 18,997
ABC, TSN, Cuatro, Canal+, Canal 7
Scoring by quarter: 22–39, 30–16, 18–24, 28–24
Pts: Pierce 38
Rebs: Garnett 14
Asts: Pierce 8
3 PTs Allen 3
Pts: Bryant 25
Rebs: Gasol 13
Asts: Gasol 6
Blks: Odom 4

As in Game 4, the Lakers jumped out to an early lead, leading 43–24 with 11 minutes to play in the second quarter. And as in Game 4, the Celtics came back, taking a 62–60 lead behind the strong play of Paul Pierce.

The Lakers finally regained their composure, outscoring Boston 24–18 in the 3rd quarter. In previous games, the Lakers were outscored by Boston in the 3rd quarter (22–31 in Game 1, 19–29 in Game 2, 17–25 in Game 3, and 15–31 in Game 4) by a total of 43 points (73–116).

The Lakers built a 14-point lead in the 4th quarter, but the Celtics again came back with a 16–2 run to tie the game at 90. With less than one minute left in the game, the Celtics had the ball with the Lakers leading 97–95. Pierce beat Bryant off the drive, but Bryant knocked the ball out of Pierce's hands from behind. Lamar Odom picked up the loose ball and passed downcourt to Bryant for a breakaway dunk, giving the Lakers a 99–95 lead. The Lakers went on to win 103–98, sending the series back to Boston.

Kobe Bryant shot 8 of 21 from the floor for 25 points, to go with five steals. Pau Gasol contributed 19 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists, Odom 20 points and 11 rebounds. For Boston, Pierce had a memorable 38 point effort, but outside of Allen (16 points) and Garnett (13 points and 14 rebounds) did not receive enough support from his teammates to clinch the championship at Staples.[7]

As for the odds stacked against the Lakers to come back from a 3–1 deficit, Jackson said, "We're young enough and dumb enough to do this."[8]

Game 6

June 17
9:00 pm
Video highlights
Los Angeles Lakers 92, Boston Celtics 131    TD Banknorth Garden, Boston
Attendance: 18,624
ABC, TSN, Cuatro, Canal+, Canal 7
Scoring by quarter: 20–24, 15–34, 25–31, 32–42
Pts: Bryant 22
Rebs: Odom 10
Asts: Odom 5
FG: Bryant 7/22
Pts: Allen, Garnett 26
Rebs: Garnett 14
Asts: Pierce 10
Stls: Rondo 6
Boston wins series, 4–2
Boston Celtics fans, players, coaching personnel, and staff celebrate the franchise's 17th title on June 17
The Celtics needed 26 games to win their 17th title. By a twist of fate, Coach Doc Rivers played for the 1993-94 New York Knicks, which held the previous record for most playoff games played in one season, with 25.

Entering Game 6, the Celtics set a record of most playoff games played in one season, with 26, breaking the previous record of 25 set by both the 1994 New York Knicks, whom Celtics Coach Doc Rivers played for, and the 2005 Detroit Pistons, both of whom lost in their respective finals in seven games (Knicks in 1994, Pistons in 2005).[9][10] However, for the 1994 Knicks, the first round was a best-of-five.

After a rocky first quarter, the Celtics dominated the rest of the game. Maintaining a lead of more than 25 points, the Celtics' Big Three performed phenomenally, while the whole team smothered the Lakers' offense with their tight defense. Boston dominated in numerous statistical categories, including rebounds (48–29, with a 14–2 disparity in offensive boards), turnovers (7–19), steals (18–4), assists (33–16) and blocks (4–0). Five Celtics finished in double figures. Allen hit seven three pointers to tie what was then the Finals record (which he subsequently broke during the 2010 NBA Finals against the Lakers during game two), Rajon Rondo had an all-around spectacular performance (21 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 6 steals), the Celtics only turned the ball over seven times and set a Finals record with 18 steals, and every Boston player who saw action scored.[11]

The 39-point margin of victory was the largest ever in an NBA championship-clinching game, breaking the old record of 33, also set by the Celtics over the Lakers in Game Five of the 1965, 129–96.[9] This lead was close to the Finals point-spread record set in Game 3 in 1998 where a Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls team beat the Utah Jazz by 42 points, 96–54.[12][13][14] The Celtics also improved their overall record against the Lakers to 9-2 in Finals meetings, beating them in the Finals for the first time since 1984.[11]

This was the Celtics' 17th championship, their first since 1986, extending their record for most NBA championships won by a single team. All this capped off the Celtics' best regular season (66-16) since their previous championship season in which they went 67-15. It was also a sense of relief, as the Celtics set an NBA record for most playoff games ever needed to win a championship, with 26, surpassing the previous record of 24 by the Lakers in 1988.[9]

The Celtics' win was also seen as an addition to the recent success of Boston-area sports teams, following the wins by the New England Patriots in Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII, and XXXIX (2001, 2003 and 2004 seasons) and the Red Sox's World Series wins in 2004 (death of the Curse of the Bambino) and 2007.

The Celtics won this series by winning Games 1, 2, 4, and 6; coincidentally, the last time the two teams met in 1987, the Lakers won that series in identical fashion.



2008 Los Angeles Lakers Finals roster
Players Coaches
Pos. # Nat. Name Ht. Wt. From
SF 3 United States Ariza, Trevor 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m) 220 lb (100 kg) UCLA
SG 24 United States Bryant, Kobe (C) 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) 205 lb (93 kg) Lower Merion HS (PA)*
C 17 United States Bynum, Andrew Injured 7 ft 0 in (2.13 m) 285 lb (129 kg) St. Joseph HS (NJ)*
PG 5 United States Farmar, Jordan 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) 180 lb (82 kg) UCLA
PG 2 United States Fisher, Derek 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) 210 lb (95 kg) Arkansas-Little Rock
F/C 16 Spain Gasol, Pau 7 ft 0 in (2.13 m) 260 lb (118 kg) Spain
G 11 United States Karl, Coby 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) 215 lb (98 kg) Boise State
C 28 Belgium Mbenga, D. J. 7 ft 0 in (2.13 m) 215 lb (98 kg) DR Congo
C 31 United States Mihm, Chris 7 ft 0 in (2.13 m) 245 lb (111 kg) Texas
SF 14 United States Newble, Ira 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) 220 lb (100 kg) Miami (Ohio)
F 7 United States Odom, Lamar 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m) 230 lb (104 kg) Rhode Island
F 10 Serbia Radmanović, Vladimir 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m) 235 lb (107 kg) Serbia
PF 21 France Turiaf, Ronny 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m) 250 lb (113 kg) Gonzaga
G 18 Slovenia Vujačić, Saša 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) 205 lb (93 kg) Slovenia
SF 4 United States Walton, Luke 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m) 235 lb (107 kg) Arizona
Head coach
Assistant coach(es)

  • (C) Team captain
  • (DP) Unsigned draft pick
  • (FA) Free agent
  • (IN) Inactive
  • (S) Suspended
  • Injured Injured
  • * High school

Last transaction: 2008-03-21

2008 Boston Celtics Finals roster
Players Coaches
Pos. # Nat. Name Ht. Wt. From
SG 20 United States Allen, Ray 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) 205 lb (93 kg) Connecticut
SG 42 United States Allen, Tony 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) 213 lb (97 kg) Oklahoma State
C 93 United States Brown, P.J. 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m) 239 lb (108 kg) Louisiana Tech
PG 28 United States Cassell, Sam 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) 185 lb (84 kg) Florida State
PF 11 United States Davis, Glen 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m) 289 lb (131 kg) LSU
PF 5 United States Garnett, Kevin 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m) 220 lb (100 kg) Farragut Academy HS (IL)
PG 50 United States House, Eddie 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) 175 lb (79 kg) Arizona State
C 43 United States Perkins, Kendrick 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m) 264 lb (120 kg) Clifton J. Ozen HS (TX)
SF 34 United States Pierce, Paul (C) 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) 235 lb (107 kg) Kansas
C 66 United States Pollard, Scot Injured 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m) 278 lb (126 kg) Kansas
SF 41 United States Posey, James 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m) 217 lb (98 kg) Xavier
PF 0 United States Powe, Leon 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m) 240 lb (109 kg) California
PG 13 United States Pruitt, Gabe 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) 170 lb (77 kg) Southern California
PG 9 United States Rondo, Rajon 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) 171 lb (78 kg) Kentucky
PF 44 United States Scalabrine, Brian 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m) 235 lb (107 kg) Southern California
Head coach
Assistant coach(es)

  • (C) Team captain
  • (DP) Unsigned draft pick
  • (FA) Free agent
  • (IN) Inactive
  • (S) Suspended
  • Injured Injured
  • * High school

Last transaction: 2008-03-04

International broadcasts

Aside from ABC (U.S.) and TSN (Canada), other broadcasters across the world covered the Finals:[15]


In the 2008-09 season the Celtics raced to a 27-2 start, the best through 29 games in NBA history, until that fateful finals rematch against the Lakers on Christmas Day ended a franchise-high 19-game winning streak. Then days after the All-Star Game Kevin Garnett injured his right knee, and was lost for the season. The Celtics won 62 games, but the absence of Garnett affected the team as they were eliminated in seven games by the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

The Lakers rebounded to win 65 games in the aforementioned season, then proceeded to win the NBA title in five games over the Magic. Even though another mid-season injury to Andrew Bynum threatened their title drive, he did come back late in the season. The Lakers became the first team since the 1988-89 Pistons to win the NBA Finals after losing it in the previous year.

Both teams would eventually meet again in 2010 where the Lakers defeated the Celtics in seven games.

The Celtics' 17th championship raised the total of major professional sports championships in Boston to 32, and it continued a string of championships for the city this decade. The NFL's New England Patriots won the Super Bowl in 2001, 2003 and 2004, and nearly won a fourth on Super Bowl XLII, only to have a perfect season denied by the New York Giants five months earlier. Major League Baseball's Boston Red Sox won the their second World Series title of the decade nine months earlier, adding their total to seven. With the NHL's Boston Bruins winning the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, the city of Boston became the first city to win championships in all four major sports in a seven-year span. The city's total title tally now stands at 33.

See also

  • Celtics–Lakers rivalry
  • Curse of Len Bias - the alleged curse that had kept the Celtics from winning the NBA Finals since 1986, which was broken in this series.


  1. ^ "2008 NBA Finals Schedule". ESPN. http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/playoffs2008/news/story?id=3418220. Retrieved 2008-05-31. 
  2. ^ "Willis Reed comparison sore spot for Phil Jackson - BostonHerald.com". Archived from the original on 2009-06-10. http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/basketball/celtics/view.bg?articleid=1099170&srvc=rss. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  3. ^ ESPN - Whistle disparity in Game 2 leaves Lakers feeling foul - NBA
  4. ^ ESPN Page 2 - Simmons: C's and the city: Both looking very good
  5. ^ ESPN - Daily Dime: Lakers need more in paint, beyond arc - NBA
  6. ^ Furious comeback gives Celtics 3-1 lead - NBA - NBCSports.com
  7. ^ Lakers Survive Celtics' Rallies
  8. ^ Daily-Jeff.com - Lakers still alive, beat Celtics in Game 5
  9. ^ a b c Associated Press (June 17, 2008). "Celtics Seize First NBA Title In 22 Years". CBS News. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/06/18/sports/main4188880.shtml. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  10. ^ Beck, Howard (June 17, 2008). "Celtics Remain Mindful Of a Missed Opportunity". The New York Times: p. D2. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9900E5D6113AF934A25755C0A96E9C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=print. 
  11. ^ a b "NBA Basketball". Boston Globe. June 18, 2008. http://boston.stats.com/nba/boxscore.asp?gamecode=2008061702&home=2&vis=13&meta=true. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  12. ^ "Largest margins of victory in NBA Finals". NBCSports.com. http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/25227077/. 
  13. ^ 1998 NBA Finals
  14. ^ Bucher, Ric (June 8, 1998). "Bulls Roll to Game 3 Victory, 96-54". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/sports/nba/longterm/1998/finals/articles/nba8.htm. Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  15. ^ Global NBA Programming, NBA.com

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