On July 28, Comcast SportsNet will look back -- with teammates, coaches and family -- at the basketball life of Reggie Lewis, 20 years after his passing. For more on Reggie, visit CSNNE.com for a new story each day this week. Remember Reggie is presented by your New England Ford Dealers.
Larry Bird retired from the NBA after the 1991-92 season, but by the time the ’92 playoffs rolled around, his back was way ahead of him.
The injury had kept Bird out of action for 37 games in the regular season, and forced him to the sidelines for Boston’s entire first round series against the Pacers. In related news, the Celtics swept the Pacers 3-0 in that series, and Reggie Lewis was a major reason.
Lewis scored 36 points in Game 1 at the Garden, leading Boston to a 124-113 win. In Game 2, Lewis unfortunately fouled out with only 15 points, but the great John Bagley stepped up with 35 points and 15 assists as the C’s prevailed in OT. The series moved to Indiana for Game 3, but that’s also where it ended, as Lewis led the Boston to victory with a cool 32.
In the second round, the Celtics met a younger, deeper and just better Cavs squad, and they were still without Bird, who was closer to a return but not quite ready.
Thankfully, they still had Reggie.
Lewis notched 22 points, seven rebounds and six assists in Game 2 as Boston stole home court advantage from the Cavs. He scored 36 points in Game 3 as the Celtics grabbed a surprising 2-1 lead.
In Game 4, Bird returned to give Boston an emotional boost, but not much else — he scored only four points in only 17 minutes off the bench. But Reggie was still rolling, and dropped 42 points as the Celtics lost a heartbreaker in OT. Boston lost again on the road in Game 5, with Bird looking a little better (13 points in 20 minutes off the bench), while Reggie continued to the lead the way with 32.
It all came together for the C’s in Game 6 back at the Garden. Bird returned to the starting lineup and put up 16 points, 14 assists and six rebounds over a miraculous 37 minutes. Reggie led all scorers again with 32, and Boston cruised to a 122-91 blowout win.
For the first time all postseason, Boston’s past and future had come together to form an unstoppable present and just in time for Game 7 in Cleveland.
They fell short. Very short. On the wrong side of a 122-104 blowout.
With the loss, Larry Bird’s career came to an end. But with 28 points per game average in the playoffs, it looked like Reggie Lewis’ career was just beginning.