Celtics vs. Bulls: 7 Most Epic Showdowns During Their Recent Rivalry
Since their 2009 playoff series, the teams have split, each winning five games. The Celtics have a slight edge in average score, 94.8 to 93.0.
Both teams have enjoyed blowouts, but there have been plenty of tense games. Here are the most epic showdowns between them since they started their current rivalry in the epic 2009 playoff series.
April 7, 2011, Bulls 97-81
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
This game last spring was a prime time matchup on TNT. The Bulls had the opportunity to clinch a tie for the best record in the Eastern Conference. They were red hot, having won 16 of 18 games. Meanwhile, the Celtics were in a tail spin, having won just eight of their last 16.
With a win the Bulls could all but clinch the top spot in the Eastern Conference, securing a four game lead with just four games to go.
This game was not a close one—the only one that wasn't a close one on this list. But historically, this can be considered the game where the Bulls "officially" became a better team than the Boston Celtics.
Rose ended the night with 30 points. Luol Deg added 23 and Carlos Boozer 14 in the beatdown.
February 12, 2012, Celtics 95-91
The Celtics were in dire need of a win last Sunday, but the red-hot Bulls came into town as the only team in NBA history to have won four straight road games by at least 20 points.
Boston needed a hero, and Rajon Rondo, who had a triple-double with 32 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds, answered the call.
Without Derrick Rose and Richard Hamilton, Chicago came up short in its comeback attempt. The Bulls cut the 14-point lead to three with just 1:48 to go, but the Bulls couldn't get any closer than that. C.J. Watson missed a three-point shot that could have tied it, and Rondo grabbed a clutch rebound to complete the triple-double.
November 5, 2010, Celtics 110-105
In just their fifth game, the new-look Chicago Bulls went on the road to face the defending Eastern Conference Champion Boston Celtics—a 4-1 team coming off an overtime win against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Even though they lost, it was the first sign that the Bulls were a team that could be really good.
After playing the Celtics even through four quarters, the game went into overtime when Derrick Rose got called for a charging foul with time running out. The Bulls had another chance to win it in the extra period but Kevin Garnett stole the ball from Joakim Noah with 14 seconds left to seal the game.
April 28, 2008, Celtics 106-104 (OT)
This was the fifth game of the increasingly intense series between the two teams. The previous game had seen two of the Celtics' big men foul out of the game, a fact which left Celtics coach Doc Rivers questioning the referees.
“I’ve got to say this about Perk. Clearly, every game he’s being targeted for these moving screens,” Rivers said. “He gets them called every game and, watching that tape (Sunday) night, there were two (fouls) that he did move in the direction but there was zero contact.
The physicality of the series was amping up, and it didn't slow down in this game. Rajon Rondo committed a very hard foul to the face of Brad Miller which could have easily been called a flagrant, but wasn't.
Paul Pierce came up big in crunch time, scoring 12 of his 26 points in the 10 minutes after Ray Allen had fouled out of the game, to lead the Boston Celtics over the Chicago Bulls in Game 5 of their heavily-contested series.
The Bulls' Brad Miller could have tied the game with five seconds left, but came up short at the foul line.
April 18, 2009, Bulls 105-103 (OT)
The Boston Celtics came into the series as the heavy favorites with the top seed in the Eastern Conference and the inevitable track to the NBA finals laid out before them.
Little did they know they were in for one of the fights of their lives against a Bulls team led by Rookie of the Year Derrick Rose.
Rose made it clear that he was worth the No. 1 overall pick on that night, scoring 36 points to lead the Bulls to a Game 1 win over the top seeded Boston Celtics, who were without the services of Kevin Garnett for the series.
It was one of the best playoff debuts in the history of the game, as Rose tied Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for most points in his first playoff game while also adding 11 assists.
The first game was indicative of one of the most epic opening series in the history of the NBA.
April 26, 2009, Bulls 121-118 (2OT)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
In Game 4 in Chicago, the Bulls were not ready to concede the series. After upending the Celtics in Game 1, Derrick Rose and Ben Gordon were shut down for the next two games and it looked like Boston would wrap up the series with ease.
Then Game 4 happened.
In a double-overtime playoff game, the Bulls topped the Celtics 121-118.
Ben Gordon made one of the great game-winning shots in NBA history, hitting a three-point shot over Paul Pierce with 4.5 seconds to go in the first overtime to tie the score at 110.
Paul Pierce tried to answer with a three to tie at the end of the second overtime with Boston trailing by three, but the Bulls' John Salmons blocked his attempt.
Rajon Rondo had a triple-double in the losing cause, scoring 25 points to go with 11 points and 11 assists.
Derrick Rose nearly matched his counterpart, scoring 23 points to go with 11 rebounds and nine assists.
April 30, 2009, Bulls 128-127 (30T)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
When Game 6 rolled around, the series was already getting attention as the best first-round series ever.
Beyond that, the physicality of the series was at an all-time high on the heels of a controversial foul of Rondo on Miller the previous game. This game started with Rondo grabbing Kirk Hinrich's wrists and slinging him into the scorers table. That certainly didn't dial down the intensity.
The two teams went on to fight a grueling, physical, back and forth, triple-overtime game.
In arguably the greatest first-round game in the history of the NBA playoffs, the Bulls pulled out a win over the Celtics, beating them 128-127 to even the best-of-seven series at three games apiece.
A huge part of the series was marked by the showdown between Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose and seeing who could put up bigger numbers. The game ended with Rose blocking Rondo's shot in a third overtime that would have won the game for the Celtics.
Ray Allen scored 51 points, three shy of the Celtics' postseason record. Rose led the way for the Bulls with 28 points, eight boards and seven dimes. John Salmons added 35, and Brad Miller chipped in 23 off the bench.
This game was the pinnacle of one of the most tightly-contested postseason series ever. Furthermore, it was the game that secured the Rose-Rondo matchup fueling the rivalry between Boston and Chicago.