Boston Celtics

Next time the Boston Celtics make it to the Eastern Conference Finals, they’ll be vying for the Larry Bird Trophy.

The NBA announced two new trophies as part of a new lineup of hardware for the 2022 playoffs on Thursday. There will now be a Conference Finals MVP in the east and west, with the trophies named after Bird and Magic Johnson, respectively. It’s a nod to the iconic Celtics-Lakers rivalry of the 1980s, headlined by the on-court battles between Bird and Johnson.

Bird is widely considered one of the greatest players in NBA history. He won three NBA championships with the Celtics in 1981, 1984, and 1986, and was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1998, six years after retiring in 1992.

Bird made an immediate impact in Boston, averaging 21.3 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 4.5 assists as a rookie. His on-court rivalry with Johnson revived the struggling NBA and brought it to new heights of popularity, as the duo and their respective star-laden teams dueled for the NBA title three times in the 1980s. The Celts won in 1984, while the Lakers won in 1985 and 1987. The Bird-Johnson rivalry still stands as one of the most famous in all of sports.

In addition to being a three-time NBA champion, Bird won three straight MVP awards from 1984-86, and won NBA Finals MVP in 1984 and 1986. He was also a 12-time All-Star.

The Celtics have a chance to vie for the Larry Bird Trophy in 2022, but they’ll have to win two games in a row to close out their series against the Milwaukee Bucks in order to get there. The NBA also announced a redesigned Larry O’Brien Trophy as part of their new hardware lineup.

PHOTOS: Celtics legend Larry Bird Through the Years

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Celtics-Bucks: Start time announced for do-or-die Game 6

  • The Boston Celtics are on the brink of elimination, and now we know when they’ll have to take the court in a do-or-die situation.

    As announced by the NBA, the Celtics and Bucks have a scheduled tipoff time of 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday, May 13 in Game 6 at Fiserv Forum. It’ll air on TV on ESPN, and on the radio right here on 98.5 The Sports Hub. (Click here for the full on-air schedule.) We’ll have pregame coverage starting at 7 p.m. ET, and postgame coverage until 10, followed by instant reactions on the Adam Jones Show.

    The Bucks backed the Celtics up against the wall Wednesday night with a furious fourth-quarter comeback. Boston led by as many as 14 points in the final frame, and an Al Horford tip-dunk had the C’s up by six points with 2:12 left in regulation. Milwaukee then closed the game on an 11-2 run, as the Celtics’ Marcus Smart turned the ball over twice in that span.

    “I just think we didn’t do what we were supposed to do [in the closing minutes],” Smart told reporters after the game. “The mentality was there to go win the game, and it just fell short. Didn’t execute when we were supposed to, when it mattered most, and they did.”

    Overcoming Adversity

    May 11, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) and guard Jaylen Brown (7) work for the ball against Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday (21) and center Bobby Portis (9) in the second half during game five of the second round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at TD Garden. Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

    May 11, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) and guard Jaylen Brown (7) work for the ball against Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday (21) and center Bobby Portis (9) in the second half during game five of the second round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at TD Garden. Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

    The Celtics’ core stars have had an uncommon level of playoff experience in their young careers, so at this point, they’re no stranger to adversity. Going forward, it’s about how they respond. To win this series, they’re going to need their strongest response yet.

    That may have to come off the hands of Jaylen Brown, who responded emphatically to a Game 1 loss with a blistering first half in Game 2. Brown totaled 30 points in that game, and he and Jayson Tatum likely have to play their best basketball of the season to escape Milwaukee with their season alive.

    Winning a championship is never easy, especially if you have to knock off the defending champions, and the Celtics are learning that the hard way. How the next game (or two) defines their season will be up to them.

    “Good basketball teams respond to adversity and we’ve been doing it all season,” Brown told reporters after the game. “Next game presents a new challenge, the biggest challenge of the year, to be honest. Mentally, physically, emotionally, it puts a challenge on every component. So, we’ve gotta regroup and get our spirit to the point where we can go in and get a victory in Milwaukee.”

  • If Necessary…

    May 11, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) defends against Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) in the second quarter during game five of the second round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at TD Garden. Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

    May 11, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) defends against Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) in the second quarter during game five of the second round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at TD Garden. Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

    The Celtics now need to force a Game 7 on the road in order to keep their season alive. If they do win Game 6, they’ll have a date with the Bucks at TD Garden on Sunday, May 15 at 3:30 p.m. ET in a decisive Game 7. The schedule remains subject to change, though. We’ll keep you posted if the game is necessary and any updates take place.

  • Postgame Reactions

    Listen above for postgame reactions to the loss in Game 5, and Marcus Smart’s performance, from Adam Jones and Tim McKone on 98.5 The Sports Hub.

Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. You can also email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.

NEXT: Marcus Smart addresses Celtics’ late-game woes