Give Chicago’s Tyrus Thomas this much credit—he can appreciate a great series.
“They came out quick and gave us a quick punch and we knew we had to come back and answer,” Thomas said. following Boston’s 118-115 heart-pounding win over his Bulls.
“We did a good job and it came down to the wire. If we play like that for the rest of the playoffs, we’re probably going to be here for a while.”
His former teammate at LSU had a similar take on how great a series this has already been.
“Last year, we went seven games with Atlanta, and we were the No. 1 seed,” said Celtics power forward Glen Davis, who finished with 26 points on Monday night. “Playoffs is the playoffs. Intensity level goes up, execution goes up, and teams want it.”
Paul Pierce, the NBA Finals MVP from a year ago, misses a free throw that would have wrapped up Game 1. Derrick Rose, a rookie, goes on to score 36 in an overtime win.
Ray Allen and Ben Gordon, a pair of UConn products, exchange scoring punches and body blows on the court in a duel worthy of a Bird-Dominique comparison. Gordon hits a shot to tie the game with 12.3 seconds remaining, giving him 42 points, only to have Allen drill yet another three-pointer with 2.0 seconds to go to clinch the win.
It’s been the kind of series that hasn’t been easy on the nerves, or the heart for that matter.
“Well, the only comment I have is I pray that Danny Ainge didn’t watch this game,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said in referring to his GM Danny Ainge, recovering from a mild heart attack. “What a great shot by Ray. That was terrific. We really needed somebody.”
The reason the Celtics needed somebody was Rajon Rondo’s right ankle sprain and Leon Powe’s sprained left knee, both suffered in the first half.
“At halftime you’ve got Rondo landing in the training room and Leon injured and guys in foul trouble. And you know, basically, at halftime all I said, I needed one volunteer. You know, one volunteer to score for us, to step up for us. And it was Ray Allen.
"And that was terrific. Really, really happy for him because he struggled in the first game, struggled in the first half today. And shooters shoot. They just keep shooting. And that was terrific,” Rivers added.
Pierce had a different take on the two games so far. Yes, the scores have been close, but the Celtics captain doesn’t feel the defending champs have hit their stride yet—not even close. And that gives him reason to be confident.
“I think we feel very confident because we feel like we haven’t even played good basketball yet,” Pierce said. “We win tonight and felt like we should have won game 1 and we just say, I feel like this is pretty much our C game.
"We are a team that doesn’t get give up 100 point in consecutive games, allow teams to shoot 49-50 percent. I think our best is yet to come in this series.”