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The Vault
Ian Thomsen
May 11, 2009
Celtics 4, Bulls 3
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May 11, 2009

The Vault

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Celtics 4, Bulls 3

Best Series Ever?

MAY 2, 2009
Instant Classic

Overtimes, improbable shots, stirring one-on-one battles—and a place in the NBA's, and SI's, pantheon

I've never been in a series of this magnitude where any game could go either way," said Celtics guard Ray Allen, sitting at his locker an hour before Boston finished off the Bulls with a 109--99 win in Game 7 last Saturday. Allen's second-seeded Celtics had been dragged into a playoff-record four overtime games by the No. 7 Bulls, drawing unprecedented TV audiences for an opening round. And though Allen had scored 51 points in Game 6, he was obsessed by the moves he might have made differently to avert Boston's loss in triple OT. "I have nightmares," said Allen. "Those plays haunt me."

What was expected to be a straightforward series win for Boston turned into six hours, 11 minutes of hellacious back-and-forth drama—including seven overtime periods—that began with a 36-point performance by rookie Derrick Rose, which helped Chicago steal Game 1 in OT. The ensuing point guard duel between Rose and Boston's Rajon Rondo (who averaged 19.4 points, 11.6 assists and 9.3 rebounds) was superseded by an even more spectacular battle between Allen and rival shooting guard and fellow UConn alum Ben Gordon.

For all its sensational moments the series falls short of GOAT status because, unlike Knicks-Lakers in 1970, say, or Celtics-Lakers in '84, its outcome won't affect the championship; not even Boston can stop the Cavs in the East. But for sheer entertainment this year's Bulls-Celtics epic ranks second to none.

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