If you don't believe what Chicago Bulls fans say about yesterday's game, just turn on ESPN Classic at 4 p.m. CDT this afternoon. Game 4 between the Bulls and the Boston Celtics was far and away the best postseason game for the team in the post-Jordan era.
It had everything a passionate basketball fan could ask for: clutch shots, heart-wrenching moments, neither team giving in easily, and a great final few possessions. Norm Van Lier and Johnny "Red" Kerr undoubtedly stood up in their graves and applauded this valiant Bulls effort to make this a best-of-three series.
Most post-Jordan playoff games for the Bulls have either been anti-climatic or not worked in the team's favor when they were climatic (Gilbert Arenas, anyone?). Here are a few recent Bulls playoff victories that came close to being more dramatic.
Keep in mind all of these games were in the First Round:
2005: Games 1 and 2 vs. Washington - While the United Center was electric down the stretches of these games and chanting Andres Nocioni's name, the team was already up by a comfortable margin in the final seconds in both. Yeah, they were the team's first postseason victories since the last championship, but there was more excitement than drama.
2006: Game 4 vs. Miami - With the Bulls fighting for their playoff lives, Kirk Hinrich drilled a long three-pointer in the final minute that sealed the win and a deadlocked series. It was marred however when Tyson Chandler sprained his ankle soon after and was not completely healthy in the two losses that followed. Again, this was exciting, but it didn't come down to the final possession.
2007: Game 1 vs. Miami - The Bulls were nursing a one-point lead with less than a minute to play when the Heat blew an easy layup and the Bulls sank free throws to pull out a close win. This had drama, but not your classic playoff drama.
2009: Game 1 at Boston - This was the game that proved Derrick Rose can compete with any team in the league, even the defending champions. He had fouled out by the end of the game, however. With Rose on the bench and the Bulls up by two in the closing seconds of overtime, Ray Allen missed a jump shot that Hinrich rebounded to give the Bulls their first-ever postseason win over Boston.
In what is already shaping up to be a classic series, the Bulls have been given new life and still have a chance at knocking off the short-handed Celtics. It'll be tough, but everyone now knows they're a team to be reckoned with in the East.