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Sunday, May 3, 2009
Never leave the House
It took seven excruciating games but the Boston Celtics finally subdued the Chicago Bulls last night at the Garden, 109-99, to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
After a classic series, Game 7 probably won't be remembered for much more than the final result. The Celtics' much-maligned bench finally showed up, outscoring Chicago's bench 30-25.
Eddie House had by far his best game of the playoffs so far. House was 5-for-5 on 3-pointers and 4-for-4 from the line for 16 points with three steals, two assists and two rebounds.
Brian Scalabrine helped Boston's key 22-2 run in the second quarter that gave the C's the lead for the rest of the game. Scal had eight points in the game and three boards. Even Mikki Moore made a quick appearance and scored four points.
Ben Gordon led the Bulls with a game-high 33 points but he was 7-for-23 from the floor and 15-for-15 from the line. Derrick Rose added 18 points, Kirk Hinrich had 16 points and John Salmons notched 12 points.
Other than the solid bench play, another reason the Celts prevailed was because they kept the Bulls' big men in check. Joakim Noah had seven points and 15 rebounds and Brad Miller was held to nine points and seven boards.
None of the Celtics' starting five went off but they each did something well. Ray Allen led Boston with 23 points and seven rebounds. Paul Pierce added 20 points and nine rebounds. Glen Davis posted 15 points and Kendrick Perkins added another double-double: 14 points, 13 rebounds. Rajon Rondo's worst game of the series was probably game 7: seven points, 11 assists, five rebounds but it didn't matter.
Chicago got off to a hot start as they led 28-23 after the first quarter. Boston used its best quarter of the series to take command. They outscored the Bulls 29-11 in the second. True to form over the last two weeks, the Bulls fought back in the third (33-26) but Boston (31-27) did enough in the fourth to hang on.
The C's shot 44.9% to 39.0% for the Bulls. Boston was 52.9% on threes and Chicago was 29.2%. Boston had five more rebounds (45-40) and eight more assists (25-17).
There will be no time to rest for Boston as they face Orlando, starting tomorrow night at the Garden. It is not going to be easy but I really don't fear the Magic. Dwight Howard is a beast but they're a finesse team and they haven't done much in the playoffs the last few seasons. Should be another interesting series.