|Game 7: Final Wrap||05.02.09 at 11:04 pm ET|
No overtime necessary tonight. The Celtics beat the Bulls, 109-99, to win the series 3-2. The Celtics will face the Magic in the second round. Stay tuned for reaction from both locker rooms …
|Game 7: Third quarter update||05.02.09 at 10:12 pm ET|
After the Celtics rolled at the end of the first half, you knew the Bulls would come out with everything they had in the third. The Celtics were able to absorb the Bulls charge for the most part and take a 78-71 lead into the third quarter.
Things got a little heated as Rajon Rondo was fouled hard twice. First by Joakim Noah and then by Brad Miller who topped it off with a little shove. Neither play was ruled a Flagrant foul. For his part, Rondo picked up a technical foul after a timeout.
The Bulls are shooting just 41 percent but are staying in the game at the free throw line where they made all 10 of their free throws in the quarter and are 23-for-27 for the game.
Heading into the fourth quarter, Kendrick Perkins has four fouls. Rondo, Big Baby Davis and Brian Scalabrine have three fouls. For the Bulls, Miller has four fouls. John Salmons and Derrick Rose each have three.
The question we have before us is simple. Will this be the last 12 minutes of this series or will be go to overtime for the fifth time?
|Game 7: The return of the bench||05.02.09 at 9:30 pm ET|
So, who had the Celtics bench in the X-factor pool? In the first half the much-maligned reserve unit shot 6-for-9 from the floor and 4-for-5 from 3-point range to score 18 points and completely turn the game around with their defensive energy, particularly from Stephon Marbury and Eddie House.
House picked up three steals and Marbury dogged Derrick Rose into having a scoreless quarter. The Bulls bench, namely Brad Miller and Kirk Hinrich missed all five of their shots from the floor and have not been a factor.
Even Mikki Moore contributed with a timely charge, four points and two rebounds. The Bulls were 3-for-14 from the floor in the second quarter and that had a lot to do with the defensive effort from the second unit.
|Game 7: Second quarter update||05.02.09 at 9:20 pm ET|
For the first time in this series, last season’s playoff atmosphere is back.
Down 27-23 after the first quarter, the Celtics outscored the Bulls 29-11 heading into halftime. In the final eight minutes of the half the Bulls shot 0-6 from the floor while committing 7 turnovers.
Rather than live and die from long range, the Celtics took it inside and scored 16 points in the paint. Even more importantly, they stopped the Bulls from doing the game. The Bulls did not score a single lay up in the entire half (4 points in the paint).
But there is more to this game than inside scoring. The Celtics bench has finally come alive in Game 7. Brian Scalabrine, Eddie House, and Mikki Moore combined for 18 points. Moore (gasp) even drew an offensive foul.
|Game 7: First quarter update||05.02.09 at 8:39 pm ET|
As Game 7 began to get under way the crowd was rocking and the Garden was electric. Not that it bothered the Bulls at all. Chicago came out strong building an 11-4 lead and taking a 27-23 lead after one quarter.
Ben Gordon and Derrick Rose combined for 20 points, while Joakim Noah grabbed seven rebounds. The Celtics, meanwhile, struggled at the outset and shot just 35 percent from the floor. Also of concern is the fact that Big Baby Davis and Brian Scalabrine each have two fouls.
But it wasn’t all bad news for the C’s, Paul Pierce got off to a decent start scoring seven points, while Kendrick Perkins continued his strong play inside with four points and five rebounds and did not commit a foul. Scalabrine also gave the Celtics a huge lift with five points. The pace is fast–the Celtics got up 26 shots–but they only had one turnover.
All things considered, the Celtics did well to get the margin down to four points, which is something Ray Allen talked about before the game. “(We need) to get good starts and finishes to each quarter,” he said. “That builds momentum.” Consider that task half completed.
|Ray on Game 7’s and friendly advice||05.02.09 at 8:03 pm ET|
We all prepare for moments of stress in our own way. About two hours before Game 7 Kendrick Perkins was shooting free throws in a mostly empty Garden, while Derrick Rose was at the other end of the floor working on his mid-range game. Up in Section 111, the kid who dances to “Livin on a Prayer” was working on his steps. (Sorry to break it to anyone who thought that was spontaneous.)
Ray Allen wasn’t on the court because he had already gotten in his work as he always does. Allen’s legendary pregame shooting routine is a big reason why the veteran guard is generally calm and usually willing to talk to the press before games. While the media-to-player ratio on the locker room was at one time about 42-0 in favor of the press, Allen walked to his locker at approximately 6:55 p.m. and indicated he was ready to share some of his thoughts on the eve of yet another Game 7.
He talked about the disappointment when he was a Milwaukee Buck and the team found out that Scott Williams would be suspended while they were in the air flying to Philly for Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Finals series with the Sixers. He talked about a 70-year-old woman who came up to him in the grocery store and told him, “nice game.”
“I’ve been in series where the other team was favored and we played over our heads,” Allen said. “I’ve been in series where both teams were even. I’ve never been in a series like this where you look at so many games that could have gone either way.”
Allen was asked is he was tired. “No,” he said letting it sit there for a second. “This is what I train my body for, physically and mentally.” As for the hype of a Game 7, Allen said, “That’s for people on the outside looking in.”
As to whether this is the best series ever, Allen offered, “Regardless of who’s playing and what round it is, this has been great basketball.”
|Noah on KG: Not my favorite player anymore||05.02.09 at 7:15 pm ET|
There was a time when Kevin Garnett was Joakim Noah’s favorite NBA player.
Those days are long gone.
“I don’t care about him at all. I don’t care about him at all,” Noah said before Game 7. “He used to be my favorite player. Not my favorite player any more.”
There was a time when Noah admired Garnett’s passion. He has been witnessing it in the Celtics-Bulls first round match up, as an injured Garnett has been emotional on the sidelines.
“He’s talking the whole time,” Noah said. “You can tell that he’s really passionate about his team, especially when things are going well.”
But he stopped looking up to Garnett when he got to the NBA in 2007. It wasn’t just because they were wearing different uniforms, either. Even though Noah cannot deny Garnett’s talent, that’s where the compliment ends.
“He’s a great player,” he said. “Now that I hear stories, I see how he is, not a big fan. “
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