Celtics

Celtics

Do you remember where you were on this day 17 years ago? 

Celtics fans most likely do, because it's the day Paul Pierce led a 26-point comeback against the New Jersey Nets to win Game 3 of the 2002 Eastern Conference Finals. 

The Nets featured Jason Kidd, Kerry Kittles, Keith Van Horn and Kenyon Martin as the top seed in the East, while the Celtics were headed by Pierce, Antoine Walker and Kenny Anderson. 

With the series tied at 1-1 after a split in New Jersey, the Nets dominated Boston in the first half, where the Celtics only managed 13 points in the first quarter. The Nets led by as many as 26 in the third quarter, until Pierce outscored their entire team 19-16 in the fourth quarter to lead Boston to the win. 

Pierce finished the game with 28 points in 45 minutes of playing time, and the Celtics outscored the Nets 41-16 in the fourth quarter. 

The comeback is tied for the fourth largest comeback in playoff history and gave the Celtics a chance at an NBA Finals appearance for the first time since 1987. It wasn't meant to be though, and the Nets ended up winning three straight games to close out the series and set up a clash with the two-time defending champion Lakers. LA swept the Nets to complete the first three-peat in the NBA since the days of Michael Jordan. 

Pierce would have to wait six years to finally get his chance at a championship, but this game was one of the future Hall-of-Famer's signature performances. The Truth earned his reputation in clutch spots and his fourth-quarter explosion in 2002 was particularly on brand. 

 

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