History on This Week: Larry Bird steals the pass from Isiah Thomas!

  • 4.06.2021 16:58:57

On this week in 1987, Larry Bird pulled off a miraculous sequence to help lead the Boston Celtics to an improbable win over the Detroit Pistons in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals.


With the Celtics down by one point, and less than 10 seconds left, Bird missed a potential go-ahead layup after his shot was blocked. The Pistons retained possession after the ball last touched the Celtics with five seconds remaining.

On the ensuing possession, Bird stole the inbounds pass from Isiah Thomas. He then dished the ball over his shoulder to a cutting Dennis Johnson for the game-winning layup just before time expired to pull out the 108-107 victory.

Thomas later explained the final seconds of that contest in 2014 on the "30 for 30" documentary, "Bad Boys." As he recalled, the Pistons were in complete disarray after they got the ball back following the missed shot by Bird.

"Everybody is looking around like, 'What do we do?'" Thomas said. "I look over and I see the official holding the basketball. I run over and I panicked. Bird comes out of nowhere I mean it was like a streak of lightning. It was over just like that."


The steal by Bird helped the Celtics take a 3-2 series lead, which ultimately sent them to the NBA Finals after taking down the Pistons in Game 7. Boston's chances of repeating as champions that year were eventually dashed after losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.

However, the late-game heroics by Bird against the Pistons in Game 5 ensured that his Celtics had a chance to compete for the championship that year.


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