Derrick Rose went absolutely nuts on the C's… dazzling everyone with an array of wild layups that will be all over Sports Center. Just a fair warning… if you're watching a sports show… you're going to see a lot of Derrick Rose highlights.
The Celtics made it close going into halftime, but then Luol Deng started to go off in the second half, and the Celtics just kinda stopped trying for stretches. The end result, a 97-81 Bulls win that for all intents and purposes locks up the #1 seed for them.
The Bulls reputation as a top defensive team is well earned. The Celtics didn't have a lot of open looks. But the Celtics also did the Bulls a few favors by missing a ton of layups (I counted 6 misses layups going into the 4th quarter. That's 12 points left on the floor… and they just happened to be down 11 at the time). The C's did a lot of standing around out there too.
Let me clarify that for the Bulls fans who will misinterpret when I just wrote as an excuse. The Bull defended the Celtics well when the C's tried… and then the C's went stretches where the Bulls really didn't have to defend at all because Boston just kinda played lazy 1-on-1 ball.
The only player in green that I have nothing negative to say about is Jermaine O'Neal. The C's were noticeably better with him on the floor. But Doc limited him to 14 minutes. And before people read too much into JO's impact and twist that into a "see… that's why we need Perkins"… just stop it. Please.
I miss Perk too. I really do. The C's have struggled since the trade. But Perk is now being built up to a mythological status that is just not accurate. The Celtics' struggles are contributing to that because people are turning "Perk's not here" + "C's struggling" into 1+1=2. That's just not true. We'll get into that more tomorrow… but I just want to lay that out there now.
Rajon Rondo has flashes of brilliance… but they were few and far between. Rose blew by him way too often. And when he was aggressive, it paid off. But he only attacked sporadically. KG struggled, shooting 3-9… which is a credit to Joakim Noah playing him really tough. Ray Allen was non-existent, shooting 3-11. And Paul Pierce was kinda lazy… turning the ball over 4 times on really half-assed passes.
As for the bench: Jeff Green runs hot and cold. He had a decent night scoring in the post. But he only had 2 boards in 19 minutes. I guess that's who he is so I'll have to stop harping on that. He was also a -10 and his blown defensive assignment early in the 3rd caused Doc to call a quick timeout so he could shoot him a death stare for about a full minute. Delonte West played alright but he had 3 turnovers too.
And then there's Big Baby… who was 1 of 8 and generally ineffective… justifying my continuing reluctance to "buy" him in our "taking stock" pieces. He keeps dropping nights like this every time I'm ready to really buy into him. Maybe he's just gassed. He's a career 20 minute a game guy and he's playing 30 minutes a game this season (34 minutes in the 3 April games). Maybe its all catching up to him.
If this game proves anything, its that the C's are not going to get caught up in this whole "sending a message" thing. We fans do, but they won't. KG played 30 minutes in this game and it wasn't because Doc pulled the starters in a blowout. His minutes are being limited. Paul only played 32 minutes. There's no way that happens in a playoff game.
Does this mean I'm discounting Chicago as threat to Banner 18? Not at all. They proved they are worthy of the #1 seed and they're a really, really good team. But we did not see the playoff Celtics tonight. They didn't play playoff minutes and they didn't play with playoff intensity. The Bull might still win a playoff series against Boston… but if they do, they'll beat a better team than they played tonight.
Associated Press Photo/Nam Y. Huh