Here are five thoughts on the latest too-good-to-be-true installment of the Celtics-Bulls series, along with a couple of other Game 6s that were rumored to be taking place Thursday.
A big bravo to the Chicago Bulls, who hereby are to be saluted as the NBA's version of Hickory High. In their 128-127 win (
Another unlikely star was
But the biggest play of Game 6 was struck by starting center
In Philadelphia, the Orlando Magic finished off their first-round series by beating the 76ers 114-89. It's a nice win for them, but here's my question: Is anyone 20 years from now going to be talking about the night Orlando won on the road without
Celtics-Bulls Game 6 was like a work of the theatre in its variety of themes and turns of plot. The Bulls came out playing angry to seize a 30-18 lead, but their aggression resulted in early foul trouble for several key players and a brief tussle when
While the young Bulls were leaning angrily in the direction of Darth Vader,
The home team found itself trailing 99-91 with 3:38 remaining -- having relinquished a 12-point lead over the last seven minutes -- when
Every time one team looked dead, it sat up, turned on a chainsaw and chased the other guys screaming across the court.
In the first OT,
But Salmons finished a difficult runner with 23.5 left to force another OT. He went on to score his team's next seven points in that second OT to put Chicago ahead 116-113 with two minutes remaining until the third OT, which was forced by a pair of Allen jumpers, the first with his toe on the three-point line (with :20 remaining) and the second from safely behind the arc (:07.6) after he was freed by a rigid screen from Pierce on Salmons.
Despite Noah's breakaway dunk near the end of OT No. 3, the Bulls gave Boston an opportunity to steal the night when Hinrich inexplicably missed an open layup after being left uncovered on an inbounds play. That
He missed both free throws, because that's what happens in this series. Players make incredible leaning threes and ridiculous runners from out of the forested paint, but they can't for the lives of them sink the equivalent of a 3-foot putt. But Rose was spared Miller's Game 5 embarrassment when Rondo missed a
And a fine win it was, their first series win since the days of
Here's something that was: Pierce missed jumpers at the end of regulation and the first OT that could have won the game for the Celtics. The real story there was that he was playing effectively with stitches sewn inside his nostril after receiving a sharp swipe from the fingernail of
In hindsight, the Game 5 performance of
And hasn't that been one ugly matchup?
On the other hand, the Celtics-Bulls has turned into the NBA's answer to the NCAA tournament -- an endless run of extended, exhausting and unpredictable finishes in which the underdog always lives to play another day.
Under normal circumstances I would naturally predict the reigning champs to win a Game 7 on their home floor against an inexperienced seventh-seed. But I've seen this story before in the movies.