|04.02.09 at 12:21 am ET|
Does life get any better for Boston basketball fans?
Their NBA franchise is the defending world champion and bearing down on another high seed in the upcoming Eastern Conference playoffs.
TD Banknorth Garden just hosted one of the most memorable college basketball games in history, as Villanova edged Pittsburgh, 78-76, in the East Regional championship last Saturday.
And then there was Wednesday night. Celtics 111, Bobcats 109. Double-overtime. Best Celtics game of the season. Best game of the NBA season. Want proof?
Trailing by 12 with 6:01 to go, Eddie House drains the first of back-to-back threes to make it a six-point game. Trailing by eight with two minutes to go, the Celtics rally as Rajon Rondo hits a pair of free throws to force OT.
Ray Allen drains a three with 12.4 seconds to tie the game, 101-101, and force overtime No. 2, foreshadowing what was to come.
Allen makes a three late in double overtime for the lead. Former UConn star Emeka Okefor converts a layup to put Charlotte back on top. Allen airballs a three. All hope appears lost. But the Bobcats fail to get a shot off.
Then, with the Celtics needing just two to win and down 109-108, Paul Pierce drives into traffic and then dishes to a wide-open Allen on the right baseline. Allen launches another three and this time the ball finds nothing but net and the clock reads 2.1 seconds. 111-109 Boston.
“I mean when you have one of the greatest shooters to play the game, it’s a no-brainer,” Pierce said. “Maybe like 3-4 years ago, I would have penetrated into 3 guys and shot a bad shot over the defense, but I trust my teammates to the utmost. We have a resilient squad, we have guys that are more than capable, and it is the right play. I drew the defense, Ray was wide open – regardless if he did airball the shot before that – I have total confidence in him.”
And as for the man himself.
“The last shot, I didn’t really expect the last shot for (Gerald) Wallace to leave me,” Allen said. “But I know Paul, I figured hey we go up 1 , you know we win the game on the drive because we have the help. Paul just had the where with all to throw it back to me. I just always try to put myself in the position where he has the choice to pass me the ball, whether he does or doesn’t.”
Raja Bell gets a clean look to tie the game but misses. Game over. Celtics win their 57th and first with Kevin Garnett back on the sideline.
“That was a great, gutty win,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “There were so many times when we were down and could’ve gave up, and just made big shots. Our guys executed down the stretch. You know, it’s funny, over the last week and a half, that literally is all we’ve talked about: getting playoff ready and every possession and execution counts. I thought we were sliding for a while and now we’re starting to get it back and down the stretch, I tell you, we couldn’t have executed plays better.”
And the Bobcats, frustrated to get only seven free throws, get a heartbreaking loss for their effort.
“You have to give them credit House and Ray hit big shots and they played really well when they needed to,” Bobcats coach Larry Brown said. “I thought we did about as well as we can do. You don’t get to the free throw line and shoot 102 shots there is something wrong; something isn’t right and that’s what is frustrating to me.”
In the land of the NBA, where meaningful games can’t get here soon enough, the matchup between the Celtics and Charlotte Bobcats was a classic. Sure to be replayed on NBA TV and in the minds and hearts of everyone who was in attendance on Causeway Street.
Talk about being spoiled. Aside from Sunday night’s game with the Thunder as neccessitated by the NBA schedule-makers, the last two games in the Garden have been filled with too many memorable moments to count.