Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Celtics-Bulls Game 5: The Best Game I've Ever Been To

I've been to a lot of Celtics games. I've seen blowouts, buzzer beaters, playoff Game Sevens, and even Acie Earl running like a flamingo with Fragile X Syndrome. Hell, I even worked at the Garden for a spell, during which time I may have told Lucky the Leprechaun to stop pulling his "gay shit" in front of Ron Artest. But last night was, by far, without question the most awesome, amazing and scrumtrulescent game I've ever seen live and in living color.

By now, you've probably read 15 articles about last night's game (christ, the Globe even dusted off the Hulk Hogan-tanned corpse of Bob Ryan to write his own pap-filled paean), engaged in multiple internet flame wars over whether Rondo's foul on Miller at the end of OT was flagrant (it honestly wasn't, though Big Baby's in Game 4 probably was), and started building a shrine to Paul Pierce in your bedroom, complete with Yankee Candles.

But I'm not here to talk about that. If you wanted an "objective journalist's" recap of last night's game, you're clearly in the wrong place. I know we started this blog as a site for the "rational Boston sports fan" and all, FREAKING CHRIST ON A CROUTON WAS THAT GAME AMAZING!

First off, I must give "props" as the kids say, to the Garden crowd. Many have decried the milquetoast nature of the Causeway street crowds ever since the old Garden was torn down, but last night resurrected the ghosts of Celtics Fans of Christmas Past in both intensity and awesomeosity. 18.624 of us screamed bloody murder for the entirety of the game, rocking the overindustrialized New Garden to its fortified concrete core. Seriously, everyone there was going positively apeshit for the entire game. Hell, the dude who played McLovin in Superbad was there, sitting courtside, advertised on the jumbotron as "MCLOVIN." (yeah, he's not getting typecast or anything) I have no voice this morning, and the last time I remember that happening, it was due to singing "The Clansman" seven rows back at an Iron Maiden show. But last night was, dare I say, even better than Iron Maiden, minus of course the 20-foot Eddie that ambled out on stage during "Number of the Beast." Which, now that I think about it, should really be a part of every big Celtics game.

Fortified by the deafening madness of the crowd, the C's heroically pulled out a game that they had very little business winning. They were down by 11 with nine minutes left in regulation. Ray Allen not only was colder than a Catholic prom date, but worse, he inexplicably fouled out with 5:27 left in the fourth quarter. Things were looking dire for our Green, to say the least.

But then Paul Pierce happened.

My love for El Capitan has bordered on stalkerish on this site, but it simply must be said again - that dude has liquid nitrogen running through his veins. After three and a half quarters of "Rondo and not much else," Pierce decided, at the ultimate moment, to carry the team on his back and will them to victory. He drained a tough 15-footer to put the game into OT. He started playing D like a madman. He sunk three impossible jumpers in the last 1:16 of overtime. Rondo may have dragged the C's up the mountain, but it took the juevos grande of Paul Pierce to to truly reach the summit, and eventually victory. I know David Ortiz has the reputation of "Mr. Clutch" in this city, but, given his performances of the last two seasons, is there really any doubt that Pierce is the real Captain Clutch around here?

A few other notes from a game that has me running on absolute fumes this morning:

* I know Perkins' stat line (16 points, 19 boards, seven blocks) looks damn impressive, but let me tell you as someone who was there: he could have done SO much more. The Bulls basically dared Perk to shoot from anywhere outside of 2 feet for the entire game, but he passed up shot opportunity after shot opportunity. We already know he can board, but if that dude ever develops an even remotely reliable 10-foot jumper (or more importantly, the confidence to take said shot), he'd be putting up 20-15 nights with regularity. The fact that shooting is the furthest thing from his mind whenever he touches the ball anywhere outside the key may actually cause me cardiac arrest before the age of 27.

*Ben Gordon is cooked. I don't know if it was the hamstring, exhaustion or the crowd, but he looked absolutely nothing like the Gordon we saw in Games 1, 2 and 4. Sure, the box score shows that he had 26 points in 51 minutes, but those points came on 6-21 shooting, and with little in the way of defensive resistance. In fact, if he didn't get to the line so often (11-12 from the stripe last night THANKS A PANTLOAD TONY ALLEN), the story that we'd all be reading today is how Ben Gordon's hamstring basically turned him into Cripply McCripplestein for the duration of last night's game, and, consequently, that the Bulls' top scoring option is now one-legged for the rest of the series. As a Celtics fan, this gives me great joy and optimism.

*Ricky at Top Ten Chicago Sports (complete with angry comments from HZMLS and SmartyBarrett - Ricky, we still love you and you're still part of the family) noted this in his column this morning - Joakim Noah has become the heart and soul of this Bulls team. I wholeheartedly agree. Here's the thing (and note that this is coming from a lifelong Gator and someone who watched more Noah games in college than should be legally allowed) - Noah's not a very talented basketball player. His main basketball skills include "yelling while pumping his fists" and "reaching over the back for rebounds." But all of that said, when he steps onto a basketball court, his only mission in life is to win basketball games by any means necessary. He always seems to be in the right place at the right time, he's always pushing his teammates to play above their talent level (something which Derrick Rose, for all his platitudes, seems loath to do), and he seems to relish in the role of "hated heel" that hasn't been seen since the days of the Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase. If I was to pick a single NBA player that would pick a fight with Brock Lesnar simply for the purpose of sticking up for his teammates, it would probably be Joakim Noah. As much as I am bound by Fan Law to hate him for this series (my girlfriend referred to him as a "gangly, hairy turd" at the game last night), that's a dude I'd go to war with anytime.

All of that said, as much as I'd like to make a prediction for Game 6 or the series in general, I really haven't the foggiest as to what will happen. If the C's came out flat on Thursday and lost by 30 on Thursday, I wouldn't be shocked, especially given how gassed Pierce and Allen must be by now. Conversely, if they came out like gangbusters and bitch-slapped the Bulls on their home court Thursday night, I wouldn't be shocked either. And as for a possible Game 7, really, all possibilities are in play. In reality, the truth lies somewhere in between - another overtime classic or two filled with ballsy shot after ballsy shot. But no matter what happens, this has been a series that we'll all be able to tell our grandchildren about, no matter whether you're a C's fan, a Bulls fan or a basketball fan in general. I'm just glad that I got to witness part of it live. Even if it meant sacrificing my voice today.


SmartyBarrett said...

Calling you out on your Tony Allen

Yes, he fouled Gordon shooting a 3, yes it was stupid, yes he didn't score, BUT...

His 12 or so seconds of absolute lock-down D on Gordon saved the game, and perhaps the series and the season. I stood up from the couch and scremed and pumped my fist when that horn sounded. Fucking hell of a job, Gordon threw like 4 fakes and pumps and stutter-steps at him and he didn't fall for a single one.

Say what you want, that was awesome.

SmartyBarrett said...

To clarify, I'm talking about the final play of regulation.

/still a little pumped up from last night