Missed this earlier ...
A series to remember -
This is the series where everything happens. Overtimes. Ben Gordon and Ray Allen. Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo. Goose bumps. And now, a best two-out-of-three scenario, thanks to the Bulls' 121-118 double-overtime win at the United Center on Sunday afternoon.
This series is tighter than spandex on Glen "Big Baby" Davis. Three of the first four games have been decided by a combined eight points. Two of the games have already wandered into overtime. If this thing gets any more exciting, the league will have to issue defibrillators to ticket holders.
"In the playoffs you've got to learn how to forget quick,'' said the Celtics' Paul Pierce.
Speak for yourself. We want to remember every delicious detail of this series, especially Sunday's Game 4, which gets the instant classic limo treatment Monday on the mothership network (ESPN Classic, 5 p.m. ET).
And if there's such a thing as an opening-round classic, then the Bulls-Celtics qualifies. It's the series that keeps giving, thanks to the Bulls' rookie point guard Rose, the Celtics' third-year point guard Rondo, the veteran guards -- the Bulls' ridiculously fearless Gordon, the Celtics' shaved-headed assassin Allen. It's the series you don't want to see end -- and it might not for another three games.
"Maybe we like Chicago a lot,'' said Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who was born and raised here. "Maybe we want to come back. The pizza's frickin' good.''
Might be subtle, almost unnoticed mistakes, but VdN keeps making them -
Check out these situations:
With 1:06 left and the game tied at 91, Boston's Ray Allen is shooting a free throw, while Del Negro stands poised to call timeout afterward (we can presume this because he ended up calling timeout seven seconds later when the Bulls finally got the ball).
In other words, the only play that could possibly happen between the free throw and the timeout is a defensive rebound situation. But instead of subbing in Brad Miller or Tyrus Thomas, Del Negro left John Salmons as the "big man" on the block. Rajon Rondo went around him to grab the offensive rebound, and only a tripping foul seconds later on Kendrick Perkins averted disaster.
Amazingly, this happened again. With 18 seconds left in overtime, Boston up by two and Paul Pierce at the line, Del Negro again left his best rebounders on the bench right before a timeout. This time, however, his team grabbed the carom
With a three-point lead and 16 seconds remaining in regulation, Del Negro came out of a timeout with his key defender, Kirk Hinrich, on Paul Pierce, even though Boston's best shooter, Ray Allen, was the main threat in that situation. With a two-point deficit and 39 seconds remaining in the first overtime, he had Hinrich on Allen and Salmons on Pierce, despite the high likelihood of an isolation play for Pierce. Thus his best defender was out of the play on two of the biggest possessions of the game.
At least Hinrich was on the court, which is more than can be said for Lindsey Hunter. At every key moment, Del Negro left his worst perimeter defender, Rose, on the court, while the veteran Hunter -- who is in the league only for his defense -- stayed on the bench. Hunter played one possession at the end of the first half, and that was it.
Even in situations such as the two referenced above, in which the only outcome was a defensive possession followed by a timeout or a foul, Del Negro didn't put Hunter in; instead, we got to see Rose get hung up on a screen for the 183rd time in four games as Allen knocked in a game-tying 3 to send it to overtime. And of course, on that final play in the second overtime, Hunter could have been brought in to pressure the ball and give a foul.