Celtics dispose Bulls but check out Derrick Rose’s block!

May 3, 2009 in Basketball, NBA by pacejmiller

I was so excited by Manny Pacquiao’s 2 round demolition of Ricky Hatton that I almost forgot about game 7 between the Boston Celtics and the Chicago Bulls, which I gushed about being possibly one of the best NBA playoff series of all time (and certainly the best first round series).

The Celtics and Bulls congratulate each other on a great series

The Celtics and Bulls congratulate each other on a great series

Celtics win!

Anyway, after 7 overtime periods in 6 games, in the end conventional wisdom prevailed and the Celtics knocked out the Bulls in Boston, 109-99. It was only the second game in the series where the final margin was more than 3 points (the other being game 3).

After all that drama in the first 6 games, everyone hoped for (but not really expected) an equally explosive finish, but it wasn’t to be.  The significant playoff experience the Celtics gained from last season’s championship run proved to be decisive, as Boston dominated the second quarter 29-11 (including a 22-2 run), taking a 13-point lead into the half and holding on the rest of the way for victory.

Game Analysis

There were several keys to game 7.  The Celtics obviously had the big-game experience from last year and the home court advantage, so the Bulls needed something special to pull out the upset.

I as said in my earlier post, the Bulls needed big games from Derrick Rose, Ben Gordon and John Salmons (or at least 2 out of the 3), and Brad Miller was the X-factor.  Looking at each of their performances in game 7, it’s easy to see why the Bulls lost.

Rose was solid, but not exceptional, scoring 18 points on 9-18 shooting and added 4 rebounds and 3 assists, with only 3 turnovers (low for him this series).  Notably, he didn’t get to the free-throw line even once.  However, Rose’s ‘average’ game was offset by Rajon Rondo’s struggles.  The player who dominated all series only scored 7 points on 2-8 shooting (plus 3-6 from the line) and had 4 turnovers, but he did have 11 assists and 5 rebounds.

Ben Gordon led the way with 33 points, but was an atrocious 7-23 from the field.  He did make up for it (a little) by hitting all 15 of his free throws.  Salmons was also disappointing, adding only 12 points on 3-12 shooting after playing hero in game 6 with 35 points.  As for the X-factor Brad Miller, only 9 points and 7 rebounds in 28 minutes.

The key for the Celtics, on the other hand, was bench play, which had been poor all series.  Luckily, they got that in game 7, with Eddie House breaking out with 16 points in 22 minutes without missing a shot (5-5 FGs including 4-4 from 3P and 2-2 FTs).  Big Brian Scalabrine also chipped in with 8 points including 2 three-pointers, but was the victim of another spectacular block by Derrick Rose.  See it again and again below!

By the way, Ray Allen top scored for the Celtics with 23 points (to follow up his 51 point effort in game 6) and Paul Pierce added 20 points and 9 rebounds.

What’s next

The Bulls can go home for the summer knowing that they gave last season’s defending champs all they could handle (despite them not having Kevin Garnett).  That will certainly give them a lot of confidence next season, as it did for the Atlanta Hawks when they took the Celtics to 7 games last season as the 8th seed and then finished this season as the 4th seed.

As for the Celtics, they move on to face the Orlando Magic in the second round.  The Magic came away with a shaky 6-game win in their first round series against the Philadelphia 76ers, and I think it will be a very interesting matchup.  Have the Celtics spent all of their energy on the Bulls or can they pull out another tough series?  Can anyone on the Celtics stop Dwight Howard?  I’ll have to think about these questions before I put down my picks for the second round.  Oh, and I forgot there’s still one series left – the Atlanta Hawks vs the Miami Heat.  I’m hoping for a Heat victory so we can see Lebron take on D-Wade!