While the NBA is on COVID-19 hiatus, Jason Oliver is reliving some of the most notable upsets and best bookie beats over the years. This week, an LA nightmare in 2008.
Lakers Set The Table
Down 2-1 in the 2007-08 NBA Finals, the Los Angeles Lakers needed a win at home to level the series and to put some pressure on the Boston Celtics.
The Lakers entered the game as -7 favourites.
A surprise 13 points on 6-6 shooting in the 1st quarter provided the Lakers with a massive 35-14 lead.
By the middle of the second quarter, that lead became 24 as Sasha Vujacic knocked down a triple off a Kobe Bryant assist. It felt like the Lakers simply needed to go through the motions and move onto Game 5 with the series level. Such was the expectation, the Staples Centre crowd had grown tired of cheering and barely made a noise with their team 24 points in front.
While the Boston Celtics managed to whittle the Lakers lead down to 13 shortly before halftime, it was back out to 20 halfway through the 3rd quarter.
No team had ever come back to win an NBA Finals game from more than 15 points behind at the time. Surely, even if the Lakers couldn’t cover the -7 spread, the head-to-head result had been locked in?
Enter: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.
Celtics Complete An Historic NBA Finals Comeback
The Celtics trio combined for 34 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in the second half. They’re not eye-popping numbers themselves but put alongside the 25 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists, Bryant, Odom and Pau Gasol managed between them, you can see how the 97-91 comeback win came to fruition.
That -7 Lakers spread that looked so comfortable heading into the 3rd quarter was gone by the end of it.
With four minutes to play in the 4th, the Celtics took their first lead of the game and never gave it up.
The Lakers came close, but when Pierce (who infamously recovered from an injury after leaving the court in a wheelchair in Game 1 of the series) won two free throws and another Oscar for his performance while trying to drive by Bryant, a five-point deficit proved too much for the Lakers to close in only 46 seconds.
An incredible comeback to win 97-91 gave the Celtics a 3-1 in the series but broke the hearts of Lakers -7 and head-to-head punters who, at one stage, looked certain to cash in.
The Celtics went on to win the 2007-08 NBA Finals in Game 6.