For the first time ever an NBA playoff series has gone into overtime three games in a row. The depleted Boston and the young and hungry Bulls are so evenly matched that these games might as well be simulcast on ESPN Classic.
As I predicted in my NBA playoff primer two weeks ago:
"Also don’t underestimate Pierce. Last year he turned one of the games into a rare “fuck-you-I-am-winning-this-game-by-myself” and out-LeBroned LeBron in game 7 of the Eastern Finals."
Lets start with the fourth quarter. The Celtics are down nine because their bench has been brutal and Ray Allen's minutes have been limited severely by foul trouble. Chicago begins to show their inexperience, Derrick Rose makes a bad pass over the head of Joakim Noah, they hurl up a few bad shots, and the Celtics crawl back. Ray Allen hits a huge three and suddenly Boston is down by just two.
Then disaster for the Celts: Ray Allen is called for an off the ball foul and is taken out of the game. The Celtics have lived and died by Allen the entire series and now the only big three member left is Paul Pierce, who ties it up with a jumper from the top of the key. On the next playh, Allen's replacement, Tony Allen, makes a stupid mistake and fouls Ben Gordon behind the three point line. We're going to overtime.
The overtime period is basically the hall of fame reel for Pierce. As I predicted in my week 1 NBA Playoff Primer He takes the ball on three consecutive possessions and nails the same impossible spinning jumper each time. It's too much clutch to expect from one man. The Bulls end up with the last possession however, and despite Pierce's heroics, they're only down by two. If they can tie and bring the game to a second overtime there is a real chance their youth will finally be too much for the battered Pierce who has played all but two minutes of the game. They find an open Brad Miller who drives to the hoop but gets absolutely hammered in the face by at least three Celtics. His lip is bleeding and the game has to be paused for five minutes while team doctors stop the blood.
Let us take a moment to consider Brad Miller. Miller was the starting center for the always entertaining yet Chris Webber cursed Sacramento Kings. He has been so close to the finals so many times, but on every occasion his team has found a way to lose. He has the chance to tie the game by making both free throws and the whole time in his head he has to be thinking, “I am not Chris Webber, I am not Chris Webber.”
Yeah, he misses the free throws. Game 5 goes to Paul Pierce.