Bird had eye for victory
May 26, 1987 - Normally, Larry Bird beat a team with his dead-eye shooting. But tonight, he whipped Detroit with his anticipation of a pass, and then his ability to make the right split-second decision.
Leading by a point, the Pistons were poised to take a 3-2 series lead in the Eastern Division finals after Bird's shot was blocked by rookie Dennis Rodman and the ball went out of bounds off Boston's Jerry Sichting. Pistons guard Isiah Thomas took the ball out from the side in Boston Garden. There were only five seconds left.
In those five seconds, Bird's mind worked overtime. "I was guarding Joe Dumars and I saw that the ball was going to [Bill] Laimbeer. I started to move toward him. I thought that if I fouled him right away, there'd be only four seconds left, and even if he made the shots, we'd still have a chance to tie the game.
"But the pass Isiah threw, he just tossed it. It seemed to hang up there forever. I kept going and I got my left hand on the ball. I was thinking about shooting, but the ball was going the other way. It kept getting away from me. I probably would've hit the side of the backboard.
"I knew there were five seconds left when I got the ball, so I started counting down in my head. Then I turned and saw D.J. coming down the lane."And he passed to the cutting Dennis Johnson, whose twisting layup enabled Bird and the Celtics to steal an improbable 108-107 victory.
Bird, the ultimate team player, finished with 36 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists and, yes, one steal.
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