After Saturday's loss, in the series opener, to the young Chicago Bulls, the Boston Celtics desperately needed a win at home before going to Chicago for game three. The Celtics would need someone to step up their game, and that someone was Ray Allen. Remember that Allen shot a dismal 1 for 12 from the field in the first game, and it was looking like he would be cold for a second game in a row. The key to the game was Boston's dominance of the boards, and the clutch shooting from Allen down-the-stretch. Glen Davis and Kendrick Perkins owned the offensive boards for the Celtics, which lead to lots of easy put back points in the paint. Davis had a strong game with 26 points and 9 rebounds. Ray Allen was extremely quiet in the first half (only scoring 2 points), but he came into the second half with a clean slate and a champion's hunger to put up 28 to lead the team in points. First game it was the Rondo / Rose show, and this game it was the Allen / Gordon show. Ben Gordon was absolutely scorching from the perimeter, finishing the game with 42 points - 14 of which came in the fourth quarter, and he scored on each of the Bulls' final three possessions. For fans of jump shooting, that fourth quarter was amazing with Allen and Gordon exchanging threes and tough jumpers with double teams and hands in their faces. These two were simply unstoppable.
Surprisingly enough, the Bulls team defense outdid the Celtics, with the Bulls setting a franchise playoff high of 14 blocks. Doc Rivers countered the Bulls tight D by getting Allen free with screens from his big men. Even with the slightest window of opportunity, Allen was able to drain his shots.
The game once again came down to the final possession for the Celtics, after Gordon made a huge jump shot. With less than three seconds to go, rolling off a screen, Ray Allen hit the winning three, putting the Celtics over the Bulls 118 - 115. There were two things I didn't agree with from Bulls' Head Coach Vinny Del Negro:
- This is the second game in a row where the Bulls were out of timeouts going into their final possession. You need to manage your timeouts better. With 2 seconds left, there isn't much you can do without a timeout left; having that final timeout gives you the ability to advance the ball to half court, and draw up a play.
- Although I like Brad Miller's play, I'd rather see more of Tyrus Thomas in crunch time. Thomas plays with loads of heart, had a team-high 6 blocks in the game, and proved in the first game he could be effective with 15 - 17 foot jumpers.
Now with the series tied 1-1, it should be really interesting to see how the young Bulls team bounces back after a loss. Game 3 is this Thursday at 8 p.m. EST.