Atlanta Hawks

This Date In Celtics History: Larry Bird, Dominique Wilkins duel in epic Game 7

This Date In Celtics History: Larry Bird, Dominique Wilkins duel in epic Game 7

The NBA playoffs are where the stars shine brightest in the biggest moments.

At fewer points was this more true than exactly 32 years ago at the Boston Garden.

On May 22, 1988, the Garden hosted Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals between the Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks. And it wasn't long before two players took center stage: Larry Bird and Dominique Wilkins.

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Bird and Wilkins went back and forth all night, especially in the fourth quarter, where Wilkins scored 12 of his game-high 47 points. But Bird tallied 20 of his 34 points in the final frame, helping the Celtics win a 118-116 thriller to advance to the NBA Finals.

Check out highlights from the game below (Yes, that's Tommy Heinsohn on color commentary alongside Brent Musberger):

 

Here are two other notable May 22 performances from the C's, who are 3-1 all-time in games played on this date:

May 22, 2010: Glen "Big Baby" Davis scores a team-high 17 points off the bench to spark the Celtics to a 94-71 rout of the Orlando Magic in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

May 22, 1985: Bird's steal in the final seconds helps the Celtics edge the Philadelphia 76ers 102-100 in Game 5 of the East Finals and advance to the NBA Finals.

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This Date In Celtics History: A Game 7 rout for record books vs. Hawks

This Date In Celtics History: A Game 7 rout for record books vs. Hawks

Believe it or not, the juggernaut 2007-08 Boston Celtics needed seven games to win their first two playoff series before claiming the 2008 NBA title.

But they were a juggernaut for a reason, and they proved it on this date 12 years ago in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference First Round series with the Atlanta Hawks.

In danger of losing to Al Horford and the No. 8-seed Hawks, Boston absolutely eviscerated Atlanta on May 4, 2008, in a 99-65 win at TD Garden.

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Paul Pierce (22 points) and Kevin Garnett (18 points, 11 rebounds) led the way on offense, but it was defense that helped make the Celtics' win historic for two reasons, per Boston Sports Info (@BostonSportsInf on Twitter):

1. Their 34-point margin of victory is the fourth-most in a Game 7 in NBA history.

2. Their 65 points allowed is the third-fewest points allowed in a Game 7 in NBA history.

That decisive victory set up a second-round showdown with LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers, a series that also went the full seven games.

Here are two other notable May 4 performances from the C's, who are 3-6 all-time in games played on this date:

May 4, 2012: Rajon Rondo (17 points, 14 rebounds, 12 assists) records one of his 10 career playoff triple-doubles in a 90-84 overtime win over the Hawks.

May 4, 1992: Reggie Lewis racks up 26 points, seven rebounds and five assists to lead the Celtics to a 104-98 win over the Cavs in Game 2 of the East semifinals.

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Classic Celtics: Watch three incredible Larry Bird games in 'Best of Bird' week

Classic Celtics: Watch three incredible Larry Bird games in 'Best of Bird' week

What made Larry Bird one of the greatest NBA players of all time?

Allow us to show you.

NBC Sports Boston's "Classic Celtics" series is all about Larry Legend this week, as we'll re-broadcast three of Bird's most memorable games in a Celtics uniform.

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Here's the rundown:

Monday, April 20: Celtics vs. Hawks, March 12, 1985
Bird erupted for a career-best 60 points, scoring 32 of those points during a 14-minute span of pure basketball brilliance in the second half to power Boston to a 126-115 win over Atlanta.

Tuesday, April 21: Celtics vs. Lakers, Game 5 of the 1984 NBA Finals
You may remember this as the "Heat Game," as the Boston Garden temperature climbed into the high 90s without any air conditioning. Bird was just as hot, though, going off for 34 points and 17 rebounds in a 121-103 victory over the rival Lakers.

Wednesday, April 22: Celtics vs. Hawks, Game 7 of the 1988 Eastern Conference Finals
Bird and Dominique Wilkins traded blows down the stretch in this thrilling, winner-take-all battle between NBA superstars. Wilkins dropped 47 points to Bird's 34, but the Celtics edged Atlanta 118-116 to advance to the next round.

Each of those three broadcasts begins at 8 p.m. ET, with notable players in that series -- including former Celtics Danny Ainge and M.L. Carr and former Hawks Doc Rivers and Wilkins -- joining Brian Scalabrine for what should be some entertaining commentary.

Here's how to watch:

When: Monday, April 20; Tuesday, April 21; and Wednesday, April 22 at 8 p.m. ET
TV: NBC Sports Boston
Streaming: NBCSportsBoston.com

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