Derrick Rose in a word is special and the Boston Celtics tonight in two words were over matched. In what was Boston’s last chance to challenge the Bulls for the number one seed in the East and avoid a potential 2nd round war with Miami, Boston was cut by the thorns of a Rose losing 97-81. Rose showed no mercy with a 30 point, 8 assist, and 5 rebound performance all but locking up the top seed in the East for the Bulls and securing himself the MVP trophy. Boston again struggled to score in the 2nd half managing just 36 points as Bulls coach (former Celtic assistant coach) Tom Thibodeau had his team suffocating the Celtics on every offensive set. It was as if he was still on the Boston sideline during the game knowing what the Celtics wanted to run.
In the first half Chicago could not miss and Boston could not score or take care of the ball for the better part of two quarters. The Celtic bench provided some relief for once and stemmed the tide slightly but the answer to every Celtic run in the first half was Rose. Rajon Rondo was on skates swiping wildly at the herky jerky moves of Rose and looked helpless as Rose contorted his way to the basket. Even when help defenders ran courtesy interference, Rose side stepped and either finished with a layup or found a teammate for an open shot. His penetration caused Boston fits but somehow the Celtics only trailed 48-43 at the half.
When the 3rd quarter opened it was Rondo attacking Rose to give the Celtics a brief one point lead 49-48. Rondo scored his first 5 points of the game in the quarter’s opening minutes sparking a brief 6-0 Boston run. That lead was short lived as Chicago responded with an 8-0 run to lead 56-49 forcing Doc Rivers to burn an early timeout. The Celtics never regained lead. Still Boston kept pace despite some chippy play and hard fouls that set a playoff like tone in the quarter. Unfortunately when Jermaine O’neal and Garnett took their rest towards the end of the 3rd, Boston’s defense nose dived as Chicago finished the quarter on a 10-2 run to lead 71-60.
The 4th quarter began the same way the 3rd ended. Carlos Boozer (14 points and 12 rebounds) was the assassin this time as he powered through the undersized Jeff Green as Chicago continued its dominance inside pushing the lead to as much as 18. It was in the 4th quarter when Chicago’s defense became even more air tight and the Celtics struggled just to get shots off let alone in. Loul Deng scored 18 of his 23 in the 2nd half and did a masterful job defending Paul Pierce who committed 4 turnovers. The contributions from Boozer and Deng were commendable but no matter how you slice it the story of the game was Derrick Rose. The Celtics were searching for any answer to stop Rose who defiantly refused to shoot jumpers in the early going. Dribbling and even over dribbling until he could break Rondo down to get a layup. He did manage to bury two 3 pointers in the 2nd half just to spite the Celtics.
Boston wants to stay healthy and it looked like they took a night off this evening so they should be plenty rested for tomorrow’s back to back against the uptempo Washington Wizards. Now that the book is essentially closed on the number one seed Boston will try to hold of Miami for the number 2 seed and home court advantage in a potential 2nd round match up. The Celtics control their own destiny where that is concerned as they play the Heat on Sunday on ABC. It is going to be epic.
About the Author
Written by Warren Shaw
I am an avid Basketball fan who has worked for the New York Knicks, Alonzo Mourning Charities and various other sports organizations. Having covered many NBA and various professional sporting events has given me the opportunity to provide insight with an unbiased but flavor driven view. I look forward to providing NBA content and interacting with knowledgeable fans and readers. Follow me on Twitter @shawsports or Email your questions to me at Warrenshaw@prosportsblogging.com