|A ‘completely extraordinary’ series||05.03.09 at 1:32 am ET|
Ray Allen has a way with words, even after it seemed every superlative had been used to describe the seven-game marathon struggle that finally ended Saturday night with a 109-99 Celtics win over the Bulls in Game 7 of their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.
“Completely extraordinary,” Allen said. “I’ve had friends all over the world watch this series and people just commenting on how nerve-wracking this series was, how entertained they were, how excited they were to watch us play and how devastated they were in the losses.”
Before the game, Allen was asked how either team could summon the energy for a Game 7 after a record four of the seven games went to overtime.
“I just think the people watching it are more fatigued than we are playing it,” Allen said. “I’m looking up at people in the stands in Chicago and they’re tired and ready to go home. For anybody watching at home, you can’t take your eyes off the TV, people are up late at night.”
Indeed, if people didn’t fall asleep from watching the players run themselves to near exhaustion, they saw one of the truly epic series in NBA history unfold before their very eyes.
“That’s what playoff basketball is all about,” said Eddie House, who was a picture-perfect 5-for-5 from the field including four three-pointers. “Anyone who watched this got their money’s worth. If you were watching on TV, you got your cable-money’s worth.”
“If you were a basketball fan, you loved it,” added Glen Davis, who helped the Celtics muscle their way into the second round.
So with the excuse of fatigue taken out of any losing equation, the Celtics went about their business Saturday night on their home parquet, determined to make it to Monday night and a Game 1 matchup with Orlando in the Eastern Conference semifinal series.
“It was heart,” said House, who was rushing out the locker room door Saturday night to catch the Junior Welterweight title bout between Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton. “They (Bulls) played just as many minutes as they did with a mission to beat us. If you succumb to the fact that you’ve played all these minutes, you’re going to be a loser.”
But what should also be pointed out is just how rare it is to watch two NBA teams battle like they were in a boxing ring for seven games.
“It’s rare but you’ve got to love it,” Davis said. “It’s NBA basketball and it’s NBA playoffs. And if you’re a fan, you love competitiveness and two teams playing hard. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life. I look back and I say, ‘Wow, I was a part of that.’ It’s an amazing series.”
Ray Allen likes to remove himself from the center of the storm and just get away but even he found that difficult for this seven-round bout.
“Sometimes, when you’re trying to get away from it, it’s hard to because that’s what everyone wants to talk about,” Allen said after his team-leading 23 points in Game 7, following a 51-point showcase in Game 6. “We’re at the center of it right now and I think for us, as players here, there’s so much for us to focus on. It’s so important for us to get our rest this time of year. You never know when that triple-overtime game is going to come, and you’re going to have to make a shot down the stretch or make a free throw or whatever it is.”
Now, with the team forgoing practice on Sunday, a day before their series opener with Orlando, it’s time to think about rest again.
“I think that’s a lot of people thinking for themselves, asking themselves that question. We look forward to Monday. You get rest the best way you know how, but we look forward to it,” said Allen. “What more can you do? We’ve played a lot of basketball in the last two years but we’re ready to go.”
And if you think the Celtics are satisfied with overcoming fatigue, think again.
“The focus for this team is going to be huge in this next round,” Allen said. “In order for us to get out, we have to be better than we were in this series.”