The Road to Game 7
|05.02.09 at 3:22 pm ET|
The combination of an injured Celtics team and an athletic Bulls squad ruled out expectations of a sweep in the first round in the playoffs for the defending champs. Even a Game 7 wasn’t that unrealistic considering the Celtics struggles with the Hawks last season. But the road the Celtics took to this deciding game was nearly impossible to predict.
Game 1: Bulls 105, Celtics 103 (OT)
The Bulls stunned the Celtics on their own court with an overtime victory that set the tone for the intensity and unpredictability of the series. Paul Pierce missed a potential game-winning free-throw with 2.6 seconds left in regulation and Ray Allen (1-12 FG) failed to connect on the last shot of overtime for the Celtics. Point guards Rajon Rondo (29 points, 7 assists, 9 rebounds) and Derrick Rose (36 points, 11 assists, 12-12 FT) established a rivalry that will play out in seasons to come.
Game 2: Celtics 118, Bulls 115
Game 2 was a showcase of UConn’s finest. Ray Allen redeemed himself from Game 1 by hitting a game-winning three-pointer with two seconds left on the clock. Ben Gordon scored 42 points, including a go-ahead shot with 12 seconds left, in the Bulls loss. Rajon Rondo (19 points, 16 assists, 12 rebounds) recorded a triple-double. But the Celtics celebration was cut short ‘ Leon Powe suffered a season-ending ACL tear in the second quarter.
Game 3: Celtics 107, Bulls 86
The Celtics got payback for their Game 1 loss by blowing out the Bulls in Chicago. They held Derrick Rose to just nine points while shooting nearly 50% from the field. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce combined for 7-for-12 from long range. Glen Davis posted 14 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, and 6 steals.
Game 4: Bulls 121, Celtics 118 (2 OT)
Ray Allen and Ben Gordon were back at it in Game 4. Allen knocked down a game-tying three with ten seconds left in regulation before Gordon hit a contested trey to force overtime. Game 4 was one by a battle of the benches. Kirk Hinrich and Brad Miller combined for 30 points while five Celtics reserves added just 11. Rajon Rondo (25 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists) posted another triple-double in the loss.
Game 5: Celtics 106, Bulls 104 (OT)
Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo proved there is more to the Celtics than just the Big Three in Game 5. Perkins (16 points, 19 rebounds, 7 blocks) played 48 minutes of foul-free basketball. Rondo (28 points, 11 assists, 8 points) delivered the most memorable moment of the series to date by bloodying Brad Miller’s mouth as the big man drove to the basket for an attempted game-tying basket. Ben Gordon, who was questionable with a strained hamstring, scored 26 points for the Bulls.
Game 6: Bulls 128, Celtics 127 (3 OT)
Emotions ran strong from Game 5 as Rajon Rondo and Kirk Hinrich got involved in an altercation early on. The foul trouble continued for the Celtics and they found themselves without Paul Pierce, Kendrick Perkins, and Glen Davis at the final buzzer. Ray Allen’s 51 points (18-32 FG, 9-18 3PG) were overshadowed by the Bulls triple-overtime win, which was iced with Derrick Rose’s block against Rajon Rondo’s attempted go-ahead shot. John Salmons scored 35 points for the Bulls in the win.