The Boston Celtics and the Chicago Bulls are playing in one of the greatest NBA playoff series in history. At the very least, it's the best first round playoff series ever. Hard to believe this series still has more basketball to play. The Bulls forced a game 7 after winning an historic game at the United Center in Chicago.
For the first time in NBA history, a playoff series had its 4th game decided in overtime. Game 1 ended in OT with a Bulls win. Game 4 went into 2 OTs with the Bulls pulling out another win. The Celtics won game 5 in OT taking a 3-2 lead. Game 6 ended the way it was supposed to end, in overtime. Well…3 overtimes to be exact.
Game 6 was promoted like a heavyweight fight. The past couple of days, the Bulls' players and coaches were openly critical of the referees on the last play of Game 5. Rajon Rondo committed a hard foul on Brad Miller. The Bulls' staff believed it should have been called a flagrant foul; however the referees called only a personal foul. The Chicago papers made Rondo the scapegoat. It was Rondo's fault Miller missed his free throws to tie the game. Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro used this as bulletin material to motivate his team. They were not going to be pushed around. Not at home in front of their fans. Turns out the Celtics were not going to be pushed around either. Game 6 turned into Ali-Frazier, a battle of will power.
Both teams played physical to start the game. Rajon Rondo and Kirk Hinrich almost got into a fight in the first quarter after Rondo pushed Hinrich into the scorer's table. Rondo would get a flagrant foul which pleased the crowd. After the initial anger and emotion to start the game, both teams settled down and focused more on playing great basketball.
In the first half, the Bulls moved the ball well and everyone made contributions offensively. In contrast, the Celtics struggled. On the back of Ray Allen, Boston stayed with the Bulls. Ray Allen scored 29 points in the first half but he wasn't done for the night. At the end of the first half it was Ray Allen 57 – Chicago 59.
The Bulls extended their lead in the second half going up by 12 points in the 4th quarter. However, the Celtics went on a 23-3 run with Glen “Big Baby” Davis and Ray Allen leading the charge. The Celtics held a commanding 99-91 lead with less than 3 minutes left in regulation. However, the Bulls fired back with Brad Miller making back to back layups to tie the game. Brad Miller had a big night with 23 points avenging his two free throw misses. At the end of regulation it was Boston 101 – Chicago 101.
In the 1st overtime, the Bulls jumped to the early lead 107-103. Paul Pierce tied the game with 4 straight free throws. After a timeout, 3 seconds left on the shot clock and 0:40 left in OT, Coach Doc Rivers drew up a play to in bounds to Big Baby who would hit a huge jumper to take a 109-107 lead. Again the Bulls didn't quit. John Salmons drove it to the lane making a tough shot to send the game into double overtime. John Salmons finished the game with 35 points.
Bulls appeared to have more spring in their step to start the second overtime. With 30 seconds left in double OT, the Bulls appeared to have the game in hand. Ray Allen made an incredible shot with his foot on the line for a long 2 over Joakim Noah to pull the Celtics within 1 point. After 2 free throws by Brad Miller, the Celtics were down by 3 with 0:16 left. Of course, the Celtics went to Ray Allen. And of course, he drained the game tying 3 pointer to send the game into triple overtime. Ray Allen finished the game with a career playoff high, 51 points.
Joakim Noah made the play of the game in the third OT. He stole the ball from Pierce, quickly pushed it up the court past Pierce who fouled Noah as he dunked it through the basket, causing the United Center to explode. Noah completed the 3 point play. If the Bulls go on to win the series, it will be Noah's play that will be remembered. The Celtics still had a chance to win the game but Derrick Rose made a great block on a Rondo shot attempt. The Bulls would hold on. The final was Boston 127 – Chicago 128.
Game 7, it should really be called Game 8, will be at Boston Saturday 8 PM. The winner will move on to face the Orlando Magic in the second round. This is the way the series should end, a game 7 for all the marbles.
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Written by johnw