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The Road to Game 7 05.02.09 at 3:22 pm ET
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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.

Game 7 will get underway at 8pm at the TD BankNorth Garden. Stay with Green Street on WEEI.com for breaking information and updates.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Paul Pierce,
Gordon’s return was expected 04.29.09 at 12:36 am ET
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Doc Rivers has seen this before. Last season he watched Paul Pierce bounce back from a knee injury to save the day in the NBA Finals. So he wasn’t surprised when Ben Gordon, the Bulls most dangerous scorer, played through a problematic hamstring in a critical Game 5.

‘€œYeah I wasn’€™t worried about Ben Gordon being hurt,’€ he said. ‘€œI’ve seen that act before.’€

Gordon scored 26 points in 50 minutes during the Bulls overtime loss. Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro explained why he left his guard on the court for so long.

‘€œA few times I said, ‘€˜Ben, how are you? Are you alright?’€™ and he just said, ‘€˜Yeah, I’€™m fine’€™ or ‘€˜Yeah, I’€™m a little tight,’€™’€ Del Negro said. ‘€œBut he played 50 minutes so it wasn’€™t like I was going to take him out because once he gets tight it’€™s hard to get him loose again. So if he was fine then I was fine with him being out there because he’€™s such a threat.’€

Rivers gave Gordon credit for leading the Bulls on the scoreboard. But that’s not to say he overwhelmed by a comeback performance.

‘€œHe was terrific. You know, he made some unbelievable shots and honestly some of them were very well defended. We’€™ll take some of those shots and if he makes them, he makes them,’€ said Rivers. ‘€œBut overall he didn’€™t look injured to me.’€

Read More: Ben Gordon, Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls,
Simmons: 12 Celtics-Bulls Subplots 04.23.09 at 2:27 pm ET
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Two games in, Bill Simmons is already dubbing the 2009 Celtics-Bulls matchup as one of the best first round series ever played. In his most recent column he explored the scenario of ‘€œAn aging/injured/exhausted/depleted heavyweight (Boston) fights off a hungry young challenger that’s clearly coming into its own (Chicago).’€ Simmons examined 12 subplots of the series, ultimately resting it all in the hands of Ray Allen. (But not before sneaking in a jab against Joakim Noah.) Click here to read the column.

Read More: Bill Simmons, Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls,
Bulls mystique gone for Celtics? at 12:40 am ET
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The Boston Celtics pride themselves on having one of the best home crowds in the league. Each game thousands of fans make sure the opposing team takes notice of the 17 banners hanging in the rafters, while memories of Bird, Parish, and McHale are never far from their minds.

But when the Celtics travel to Chicago for Games 3 and 4 of the playoffs against the Bulls, they will be met by a United Center crowd who wants them to acknowledge their own collection of banners. It has been just over ten years since Michael Jordan led the Bulls to six NBA Championships in eight seasons, and their fans are eager to see a first round upset.

So what do the Celtics expect from the Bulls crowd?

‘€œIt’s really hard to answer that question because I know there was a Jordan era in Chicago and then there’s a post-Jordan era. Those are two different eras,’€ said Ray Allen. ‘€œPlaying when he played, it was one atmosphere that was uncomparable. Now people are supportive and there’s a lot of basketball fans in that city, but the mystique when he was there was totally different.’€

Like Allen, Stephon Marbury played against Jordan early in his career. While he agrees that Bulls fans still show their support, there is no replacing Jordan’s presence.

‘€œThey have a really good system as far as how they get the crowd into the game. I think after Michael Jordan, they stayed consistent with exactly what they do. So it’s going to be a nice atmosphere,’€ Marbury said. ‘€œThey try to continue with that same mystique. But he’s not there.’€

Journeyman Mikki Moore has experienced eight different home crowds. Even so, he still ranks the Bulls crowd (one of the few teams he never played for) as one of the best.

‘€œIt’s a pretty good crowd,’€ he said. ‘€œIt’s a lot like here (in Boston). It’s one of the top ten arena crowds because of the traditional Bulls. From Scottie (Pippen) and Jordan, it’s a basketball city so they’re going to come out and support their team regardless.’€

For those who played against the Bulls during their dynasty, the memories will still linger in the building. However the younger members of the Celtics cannot relate as their veteran teammates do.

‘€œIt’s alright. It’s no different than any other NBA team,’€ said Kendrick Perkins. ‘€œYou don’t [notice a mystique]. You really don’t. I’ve never played there in a playoff game but when we go there in the regular season, most people are all about the Celtics.’€

The Celtics and Bulls will face off in Chicago on Thursday at 8pm EST for Game 3 and Sunday at 1pm EST for Game 4.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan,
Game 1 in Overtime 04.18.09 at 3:17 pm ET
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The Celtics and Bulls are headed into overtime tied at 97 apiece.

Final seconds of regulation: Pierce hit a pair of three throws with 37.4 seconds left to put the Celtics up 94-93. Derrick Rose drove the lane and the Celtics were called for goaltending (CHI 95-94, 31.1 seconds). Allen missed his 10th shot of the game, Rondo grabbed the rebound and put it back in (BOS 96-95, 22.1 seconds). Ben Gordon missed, pig pile ensued, Bulls are called for traveling. Call is reversed (12.1 seconds). Rondo called for foul on Rose, made both FTs (CHI 97-96, 9.4 seconds). Pierce pulled up for attempted game-winner, Noah is called for foul. Pierce made one (BOS-CHI 97-97). End of regulation.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls,
Seventh seed watch: Pistons out 04.14.09 at 12:21 am ET
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The Boston Celtics still don’t know who they will face in the first round of the playoffs, but one thing they do know is it will not be the Detroit Pistons. On Monday night the Pistons got locked into the eighth spot with a 91-88 loss to the Chicago Bulls. They will play the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round. So with two days left in the regular season, the battle for the sixth and seventh seeds is still up for grabs between the Bulls and Philadelphia 76ers. The Bulls have a half-game lead over the Sixers heading into Tuesday.

6. Chicago Bulls (41-40)
Wednesday, April 15 vs. Toronto Raptors

7.  Philadelphia 76ers (40-40)
Tuesday, April 14 vs. (2) Boston Celtics
Wednesday, April 15 @ (1) Cleveland Cavaliers

Read More: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Philadelphia 76ers,
First round still up for grabs 04.12.09 at 11:00 pm ET
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The Boston Celtics locked up the second seed in the Eastern Conference on Saturday, but their first round opponent is still uncertain. This weekend the Chicago Bulls rose to the occasion, the Detroit Pistons continued to be mediocre, and the Philadelphia 76ers came up short. With only three days left in the regular season, the sixth, seventh, and eighth seeds are still up for grabs.

6. Philadelphia 76ers (40-40)
The Sixers are slipping on a five-game losing streak. This weekend they lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors, putting their hold on the sixth spot in jeopardy as they gear up to face the top two teams in the Eastern Conference.

Rest of the season:
Tuesday, April 14 vs. (2) Boston Celtics
Wednesday, April 15 @ (1) Cleveland Cavaliers

7. Chicago Bulls (40-40)
The Bulls enter the final week of the regular season on a four-game winning streak, including Saturday’s victory over the Charlotte Bobcats. They will wrap up the season at home where they are 28-12.

Rest of the season:
Monday, April 13 @ (8) Detroit Pistons
Wednesday, April 15 vs. Toronto Raptors

8. Detroit Pistons (39-41)
Despite beating the New Jersey Nets on Friday, a loss on Saturday to the Indiana Pacers landed the Pistons one game behind the Chicago Bulls in the eighth spot. They are 1-2 this season against both of their upcoming opponents.

Rest of the season:
Monday, April 13 vs. (7) Chicago Bulls
Wednesday, April 15 @ (5) Miami Heat

Read More: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Philadelphia 76ers,
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