The Celtics beat the Bulls last night in Game 5, 106-104, when once again, 48 minutes of basketball was just not enough. It's the third time the two teams have needed overtime in this series alone. That's a record -- never before has there been three-overtime games in one series, ever. Three overtime games -- four extra periods overall -- in just five games.
And just like every great series, each game seems to establish a new hero. Last night, after the Celtics erased an 11-point 4th quarter deficit, it was Paul Pierce's turn. Relatively quiet for most of the series, Pierce hit a fall-away jumper with 11-seconds left in the 4th to tie the game. Then, in the extra frame, Pierce made three-straight step-back jumpers in the final 1:17 -- including the game-winner with just three seconds remaining -- when everyone in the arena knew exactly what he was going to do.
And none of that mentions Rajon Rondo's 28 points and 11 assists, or Kendrick Perkins' 16 points, 19 rebounds, 7 blocks, and perhaps most amazing, no fouls in over 48 minutes of play.
This series is good. Very good. But just how good is it? Bob Ryan thinks this "series is undoubtedly the best seven vs. two matchup in league history."
Throw out that aberrational thing last Thursday and we've had four dazzling, exhausting, and draining exhibitions of NBA greatness in what may have begun as a relatively innocuous 2-7 matchup but has turned into instant history. In 63 years of NBA playoff competition, no teams had ever played three overtime games in one series, of any length. They have now. And we're far from done.As Ryan reminds, this series still isn't over. At least one game remains, with Game 6 coming Thursday night, in Chicago. But there's no way this series doesn't go seven games.