If history is any indication, Thursday night’s Game 4 of the NBA Finals should be one to remember.
Each of the last five Game 4s between the Celtics and Lakers in the NBA Finals were decided by 6 points or fewer, with the average margin of victory 2.8 points and three of them decided by 1 or 2 points. Each of these games was a classic in its own right, with four of them won on a shot in the final seconds and the other one arguably the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history.
Here are summaries form each game:
2008: Celtics 97, Lakers 91 - Celtics' historic comeback
Boston trailed by 21 points at the end of the first quarter, 18 points at halftime and by as many as 24 points in the game, but rallied back to win in astonishing fashion. The 21-point deficit at the end of the first quarter and the 18-point halftime deficit were both the largest overcome in NBA Finals history. The Celtics would take a 3-1 series lead and go on to win the series 4-2.
1987: Lakers 107, Celtics 106 - Magic hits the "Junior, Junior Sky Hook"
The Celtics led by 8 with 4 minutes remaining, but the Lakers used a 9-0 run to take a 1-point lead after a Magic Johnson-to-Kareem Abdul-Jabbar alley-oop with 30 seconds to play. Larry Bird responded with a 3-pointer to give the Celtics a 2-point lead with 12 seconds to play. Abdul-Jabbar drew a foul and made one free throw and missed the second, but the ball went out of bounds off Kevin McHale. Johnson took the ball on the wing and drove to the middle where he hit his famous "junior, junior sky hook" to make it 107-106 with 2 seconds left. Bird missed a jumper, and the Lakers had a 3-1 series lead. They went on to win the series 4-2.
1985: Celtics 107, Lakers 105 - DJ wins the game at the buzzer
In a close game throughout, the Celtics took a 1-point lead with a 10-2 run late in the fourth quarter. The two teams went back and forth for the rest of the game, with Magic Johnson tying things up at 105. On the ensuing possession, the Lakers double-teamed Larry Bird, leaving Dennis Johnson open to hit the game-winning jump shot at the buzzer, evening the series at 2 games apiece. The Lakers would go on to win the series in 6 games.
1984: Celtics 129, Lakers 125 (OT) - McHale clotheslines Rambis, Celtics rally in OT
With the Lakers up 6 in the 3rd quarter, Kurt Rambis was going in for a breakaway layup when he was clotheslined by Kevin McHale, leading to a full-scale brawl. Less than 2 minutes later, Larry Bird and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar started to fight and had to be separated by officials. Boston clawed back into the game, with the Lakers missing 4 FT in the final minute of the 4th quarter to allow the Celtics to force overtime. In the extra session, Larry Bird made a turnaround jumper with 16 seconds left to give the Celtics the lead, and eventually the win. The Celtics tied the series at 2 and went on to win the series in 7 games.
1969: Celtics 89, Lakers 88 - Sam Jones hits the game-winner
Just when it appeared the Lakers would enjoy a commanding 3-1 series advantage, Sam Jones hit a shot from the top of the key that hit the front of the rim and landed in with 2 seconds left. Jones described his game-winning basket as "a lucky shot." The Celtics tied the series at 2 games apiece and would go on to win the series in 7 games.