NBA Playoffs: Celtics Blow Chance to End Series, Bulls Win Epic Game Six

Stew Winkel@stew_winkelSenior Analyst IMay 1, 2009

CHICAGO - APRIL 30:  Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls puts up a shot against Kendrick Perkins #43 of the Boston Celtics in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at the United Center on April 30, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Celtics 128-127 in triple-overtime. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agreees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

I am writing this article, because I don't know what else to do. I am exhausted from watching the game, but I know I can't sleep. I am just sick about the Celtics loss in Game Six in triple overtime to the Bulls.  

Tonight was one of those games that will be replayed forever—an absolute instant classic.  But right now, I couldn't care less.  My team lost, and they lost because, despite playoff experience, and being defending champions, they blew it.

This game never, ever should have reached a first overtime.  Ever.  The Bulls looked to be pulling away in the fourth quarter, the same way that they did in Game Five. Then the Celtics went nuts, going from 12 points down (88-76) to up eight (98-91).  

Then the turning point.  Rajon Rondo goes to the line.  I am thinking, "Just make one, keep the momentum going, and it is over."  He seemingly rushes his free throws, and misses them both.  Up eight, under three minutes to play, the Celtics still should have won.  But the two misses left the door open just slightly and the Bulls took full advantage. 

For some reason, Doc Rivers put Tony Allen in the game down the stretch.  The Celtics starting five was playing great together.  Doc pulls Glen Davis for Allen, who has spent most of the night and most of the series on the bench.  It wasn't that Tony Allen did anything terrible, but, under these circumstances, Davis deserved to be out there, he needed to be, and he should have been.  

Chicago came all the way back and tied the game.

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Boston, though, would have another chance to win in regulation.  Paul Pierce had the ball where he wanted, and got the shot he wanted.  

With the clock running out, Pierce got about as good a look as you could possibly hope for: a shot Pierce had made hundreds of times throughout his career, and several times just in Game Five.  He missed, and on to overtime No. 1 we went.  

To be honest, at the moment, the overtimes are a blur.  I remember Pierce missing a chance to win the game at the end of the first OT.

Ray Allen hitting big shot after big shot, including the final five in the second overtime to extend the game another period.  

Those final five points included a game-tying three-pointer.  Just prior to that, Allen hit a huge shot from the right corner.  At first, it looked like a three to tie the game, but his toe was on the line for only a two.  

Allen had 51 points, and there was a very high degree of difficulty on this shot.  Allen had to step back with the taller Joakim Noah all over him. I can't be be angry at Allen for having his toe on the line under those circumstances.

I can, however, be angry at Eddie House.  In the third overtime, down three, the Celtics ran a play to get House an open three in the left corner.  House has one job in that situation: get to the corner; get behind the line.  House does knock down the jumper, but his foot is easily over the line for just a two—leaving Boston down by one. 

This was just one of four terrible plays by the Celtics down the stretch of the third overtime.

Boston had the ball with under a minute left, tie game.  This is an ideal situation for the Celtics.  Without having to rush, they can easily get a two for one, ensuring they have two shots at scoring, giving them a great chance to win the game, or at the very least, force another overtime.  

Pierce has the ball and starts to dribble to his left.  He gets a step on John Salmons. There is Noah in the way, but he jumps the passing lane instead of cutting off Pierce's path to the hoop.  Pierce assumed Noah would cut the lane off, and he threw it right to Noah.  This was more of a terrible play by Pierce than a great one by Noah.

Next, it would only get worse.  Noah used his speed and athletic ability to race down the court.  Pierce, with five fouls, decides to give chase instead of just conceding the dunk to Noah and the Bulls.  Pierce commits the foul, barely causing Noah to flinch as the second-year player soars in for the go-ahead dunk, and the foul.  

Pierce was now out of the game, after a bonehead turnover and an even worse foul. After Noah sinks the free throws, the Celtics are again down by three.  

This was followed by the House two where he failed to get his feet behind the line. Boston would get the ball back after Kirk Hinrich missed a layup.  Down one, out of timeouts, and Pierce, Davis, and Kendrick Perkins all on the bench having fouled out. About 15 seconds to play. 

And Ray Allen had 51 points. 

Boston had to work for one good shot, to either win or lose the game here.  

The ball comes in to Rondo.  Allen is in the corner with Salmons guarding him. Instead of setting a screen, or as many screens as needed to get Allen the ball, no one on the Celtics tries to get Allen free.  Rondo panics and starts to dribble.

Again, Ray Allen, who has hit countless huge shots all series, and many more in this game alone, doesn't touch the ball.  Rondo dribbles a few times, and takes a turnaround jumper, fading away.  Derek Rose makes a great block, but even had he not blocked the shot, the chances of that shot going in were very, very low.

Ray Allen is not Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, LeBron, or Kobe, but for one game tonight, he might as well been.  Those players at the end of games, always get the ball, and teams always find ways to get them the ball.  That, without exception, had to be the case tonight for the Celtics with Allen.  Remember, 51 points.

It would be one thing if Allen came off screens and cuts and Rondo just could not get him the ball. Fine.  But you had to at least give him a chance.  

Boston did not.  Instead, Rondo's shot gets blocked and the Bulls win, forcing a deciding Game Seven on Saturday night back in Boston. 

Right now, I just keep thinking about up eight, Rondo at the line.  The game should have been over.  The series should have been over.  

Two missed free throws, and then three overtimes later, the Bulls emerged with a win for the ages.  Chicago had player, after player step up throughout the night, getting major contributions at key moments from Noah, Salmons, Rose, and Brad Miller.  

The Celtics failed to close the door on this series, and now both teams are headed back to Boston for the do-or-die Game Seven.

One team is happy to be on that flight.  The other, not so much.  


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