Celtics 4, Bulls3
MAY 2, 2009
Overtimes,improbable shots, stirring one-on-one battles—and a place in the NBA's, andSI's, pantheon
I've never beenin a series of this magnitude where any game could go either way," saidCeltics guard Ray Allen, sitting at his locker an hour before Boston finishedoff the Bulls with a 109--99 win in Game 7 last Saturday. Allen's second-seededCeltics had been dragged into a playoff-record four overtime games by the No. 7Bulls, drawing unprecedented TV audiences for an opening round. And thoughAllen had scored 51 points in Game 6, he was obsessed by the moves he mighthave made differently to avert Boston's loss in triple OT. "I havenightmares," said Allen. "Those plays haunt me."
What was expectedto be a straightforward series win for Boston turned into six hours, 11 minutesof hellacious back-and-forth drama—including seven overtime periods—that beganwith a 36-point performance by rookie Derrick Rose, which helped Chicago stealGame 1 in OT. The ensuing point guard duel between Rose and Boston's RajonRondo (who averaged 19.4 points, 11.6 assists and 9.3 rebounds) was supersededby an even more spectacular battle between Allen and rival shooting guard andfellow UConn alum Ben Gordon.
For all itssensational moments the series falls short of GOAT status because, unlikeKnicks-Lakers in 1970, say, or Celtics-Lakers in '84, its outcome won't affectthe championship; not even Boston can stop the Cavs in the East. But for sheerentertainment this year's Bulls-Celtics epic ranks second to none.
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Get complete coverage of the NHL playoffs, including analysis of key matchupsand nightly roundtable discussions with our panel of NHL experts. Allan Muirlooks at how the Capitals' unheralded rookie goalie, Simeon Varlamov, hasstepped into the postseason spotlight, and also weighs in with his Three Starsafter each night's action. Also, check out Varlamov in our photo gallery ofrookies who have made a postseason impact.
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Great Ones Past
Mavs-Warriors, First round In this Western Conference stunner, Baron Davis'sNo. 8 seed outshot Dirk Nowitzki and top-seeded Dallas, which was expected tocontend for the title.
Celtics-Lakers, Finals In the first of three memorable Finals showdowns, LarryBird's Celts defeated Magic Johnson's more talented Showtime club in seventheatrical games.
Knicks-Lakers, Finals Limping onto the Madison Square Garden court on a tornthigh muscle shortly before tip-off, center Willis Reed inspired the Knicks toa Game 7 win.
GALLERIES BROWSE SI PHOTOS
Photograph by DAMIAN STROHMEYER
DISHING IT OUT Despite some rough treatment from Noah, Rondo had 11 assists in Boston's Game 7 win.
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH (DAVIS)
RICHARD MACKSON (BIRD)
JAMES DRAKE (REED)
GREG NELSON (CUBAN)
KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT/US PRESSWIRE (KRAFT)
MARCO GARCIA/AP PHOTO (BUSS)
CHRISTIAN PETERSEN/GETTY IMAGES (MORENO)
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH (MCCALLUM)
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH (GASOL)
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH (DANCER)
LOU CAPOZZOLA (VARLAMOV)
LOU CAPOZZOLA (HOCKEY FANS)
BOB ROSATO (JOHNSON)
JOHN BIEVER (RONDO)
JOHN BIEVER (JAMES)
DAVID E. KLUTHO (SHARP)
DAVID E. KLUTHO (RYAN)
HEINZ KLUETMEIER (MINE THAT BIRD)
HEINZ KLUETMEIER (DERBY FAN)