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  1. #1
    Silence surpasses speech. duncan228's Avatar
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    Bulls, Celtics deliver series for the ages
    By Dan Wetzel

    CHICAGO – They had played six games and seven overtimes, had given the NBA playoffs an unexpected first-round spark, created heroes and villains, endured flagrant fouls and shoves to the face.

    Now that the latest installment was over, they got Joakim Noah, the 7-foot free spirit with the Sideshow Bob haircut, and asked him a question over the public address system.

    The United Center was still rocking, but it suddenly went silent except for the ringing in everyone’s ears. In search of some unlikely genius to sum up the craziest series anyone had ever seen, who better to turn to than this son of a tennis star and an artist from near Greenwich Village that no one can make sense of anyway.

    He’d just made the least-expected play of a series full of them, an open-court steal and driving dunk that both fouled out Paul Pierce and gave Chicago a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. It ended Bulls 128, Celtics 127 in a triple-overtime Game 6 classic.

    Noah’s thoughts on this series? , it might be like Forrest Gump breaking down Vietnam.

    So the big guy first looked for his mother in the crowd, then leaned into the radio host to hear the question and then paused to consider some words. Finally he just sat on the scorer’s table and settled on howling into the microphone. It was a primal scream. The place went nuts.

    “I don’t even know what just happened, man,” he’d say later and, for once, Joakim Noah was speaking in perfect clarity.

    Back to Boston for Game 7 – just like the Basketball Gods (Michael Jordan? Larry Bird?) preordained it. You might as well get ready for an overtime or three, because a series this great, with performances this grand, wasn’t meant for regulation time.

    There was no other way to conclude what is perhaps the finest non-Finals series in NBA history. Thursday was another masterpiece of endearing endurance, a game with literally everything.

    Consider Rajon Rondo, who nearly was thrown out of the game for taking Kirk Hinrich by the arm and wiping him into the scorer’s table. He then proceeded to play 57 minutes and dish 19 assists without a turnover.

    Many of them went to Ray Allen, who amassed 51 points in a performance so outrageous that every time he pulled up for that rapid-fire release of a jumper, Bulls fans would scream in terror like they were watching a car wreck about to happen.

    And, yet, the Celtics lost.

    The Bulls never folded and they had ample opportunity. The Celtics are more experienced, more polished and better coached. They have two megastars to make the lonely moment plays where the Bulls rely on a panoply of players – a Brad Miller 3 here, a Derrick Rose drive there, a John Salmons dagger when you least expect it.

    Yet, every time the defending champions were about to put it away, dust off these upstart kids and move onto more serious business, the Bulls rose and then fumbled and then rose again.

    “It looked good for us, it didn’t look good for us, it looked good for us,” coach Vinny Del Negro said, and he could’ve added a few more to the example.

    If nothing else Chicago showed resolve, the third overtime a display of the guts needed for glory. They had kicked away the second OT by letting Allen loose for another game-tying 3 and then booting the final possession without anything close to a shot.

    They returned to the bench with hung heads in front of a sagging, exhausted, exasperated crowd. This is the emotion of the playoffs and this is what Chicago had to master.

    “They make a shot it takes your breath away,” said Salmons, who had 35 points. “You make a shot and it’s the best feeling in the world.”

    It ended with Noah reading the Celtics’ play, leaving his man to make the steal and then heading for pay dirt without a moment of hesitation. It was a sight to see, a guy too tall to try what he was trying, hair flapping in the wind, no thought of passing or slowing down or doing anything but thundering down a dunk.

    “It happened,” he said.

    When he was fouled by Pierce, sending the star out of the game, the Celtics were about out of players. Boston’s final two possessions featured Rondo and Allen and a combination of Mikki Moore, Brian Scalabrine, Eddie House and Stephon Marbury (which isn’t exactly reminding anyone Bird-McHale-Parish).

    And it still took a brilliant defensive play by Rose – a block of Rondo, Chicago’s most hated man – to seal it up.

    “You got to love it,” Rose said.

    Saturday should be more to love, the ultimate conclusion, unless David Stern wants to make this a best of nine just for TV ratings.

    Afterward, everyone was talking about fatigue, although the older Celtics seemed to do most of the talking. Doc Rivers tried to minimize it: “My son played five AAU games last Saturday.”

    His son Austin, 16, is closer in age to the Bulls, though. Rose, 20, said he felt fine. Noah, 24, declared he could play Game 7 immediately, and came out of the shower without a hint of irony, singing Daft Punk’s “One More Time.”

    The first order of business for both teams is hoping the NBA doesn’t decide to punish Rondo and/or Hinrich for their first-quarter altercation. Rondo received a flagrant foul for whipping Hinrich into the scorer’s table, but it easily could’ve been a flagrant 2, which would’ve resulted in ejection.

    Hinrich, meanwhile, received just a technical for going back at Rondo, shoving and trying to square off and fight.

    “All flagrants and technicals are reviewed,” NBA spokesman Tim Frank told Yahoo! Sports, which means anything is possible.

    Considering the NBA once suspended Robert Horry two games for hip-checking Steve Nash into the scorer’s table, who knows what they’ll do here?

    The best course would be nothing. While what Rondo did and the manner Hinrich responded might technically merit punishment, discipline would ruin the entire operation. This has been a glorious series and it certainly doesn’t need to end without one or two of its biggest contributors.

    We’ve been given six games like no one has ever seen before; it’s no time to ruin the finale.

    “It’s playoff basketball,” Hinrich shrugged.

    It’s actually better than that.

  2. #2
    Get Sarver out!!!! pauls931's Avatar
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    If they go at least one OT this game, I'll say it's the best playoff series of all time. Never have I seen two such evenly matched opponents, especially in the first round.

  3. #3
    Ina world of hype, we win IronMexican's Avatar
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    Los Angeles Lakers
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    I hope the Bulls don't get the jitters like the Hawks last year and just get blown out the water.

  4. #4
    Suck One Pop poop's Avatar
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    game 6 was one of the top 5 games ive EVER SEEN, i will also say Rondo is a dirty player and the league is treating him with kid gloves. he flagrant fouled Miller costing the bulls the game, then next game flagrant fouled Heinrich. hes a y, dirty little . of course the league would NEVER suspend him for a game though.

  5. #5
    Veteran Indazone's Avatar
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    Houston Rockets
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    Having lived up in Chicago before, it's truly for me the Second City! Go Bulls!

  6. #6
    I don't have limits sonic21's Avatar
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    San Antonio Spurs
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    I don't care if this is just the first round. This series is CLASSIC. Love it. I hope game 7 just lives up to the hype.

  7. #7
    Cogito Ergo Sum LnGrrrR's Avatar
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    Boston Celtics
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    I enjoyed Chicago last time I was there. I'm going to visit a friend who lives there for 6 days or so this July... going to a Cubs game and a few other things. Quite looking forward to it.

  8. #8
    Lakers, World Champions La Peace's Avatar
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    Los Angeles Lakers
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    This a GREAT series.

    That being said, there have been better. This one is obviously up there.

    But I watched Espn for the first time in a month and they are acting like this is like watching the return of jesus christ.

  9. #9
    Silence surpasses speech. duncan228's Avatar
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    Celtics-Bulls thriller sets cable viewers record

    The triple-overtime thriller between the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics is the most-watched first-round game on cable TV.

    TNT says the Bulls’ 128-127 victory Thursday in Game 6 was seen by 5.35 million viewers. The previous record was 4.97 million for Game 6 of the Suns-Lakers series in 2006, a 126-118 overtime win by Phoenix.

  10. #10
    Silence surpasses speech. duncan228's Avatar
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    Not the best series ever, but savor Celtics-Bulls
    Ian Thomsen

    We look ahead to Game 7 of the Celtics-Bulls saga happy, for the first time, that the NBA chose years ago to extend the opening round from its former best-of-five format.

    5 views of a terrific TV miniseries

    5. Will Game 7 go to four overtimes? If it does, the Celtics and Bulls will have played the equivalent of eight games in this series.

    In which case, the Celtics almost surely will be dead. The longer Game 7 is extended the better it will be for the younger Bulls, whose key performers are in their 20s and whose subs have been more effective.

    When you look at the matchup of starting fives, the Celtics should be winning this series based on the superior talents of Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. But the Bulls are subbing in Kirk Hinrich (19 points on 12 shots in Game 5) and Brad Miller (23 points on nine shots in Game 6), reinforcements for which the depleted Celtics have no answer. And while Rajon Rondo is winning his matchup at point guard statistically, Bulls rookie Derrick Rose is creating opportunities for his teammates and raising the level of his team in ways that don't credit him in the box score.

    Take the best March Madness game you've ever seen and multiply it again and again and again -- and that's what this series has become. It is two stubborn teams -- the injured champs trying to hold on, the seventh-seeded underdogs with nothing to lose -- playing a seven-game tournament as if each game were a knockout, one-and-done event at the NCAA tournament. It rarely works out this way in the NBA, but a relative nobody like John Salmons, a midseason replacement for the Bulls' injured $71 million forward, Luol Deng, may wind up being the hero of this exhausting drama. Salmons began the season as a swingman for the lowly Sacramento Kings with a career average of 7.1 points per game, but he enters Game 7 on the regal Boston parquet with postseason numbers of 19.2 points and 4.5 rebounds while holding up well against Pierce.

    4. Is it or isn't it the greatest series ever? It isn't. It can't be.

    For starters, it has played out this way because of Kevin Garnett's absence, a tournament-changing event. If he were healthy, then the Celtics would be preparing for the second round against Orlando, and the rest of us would be anticipating a flip-of-the-coin conference finals between Cleveland and Boston.

    The NBA has never seen anything like this Celtics-Bulls operetta. Never has any postseason series been extended to three games of overtime, never mind four.

    But what is it going to amount to ultimately? Neither team is a threat to reach the NBA Finals. When Kobe and LeBron are exchanging baskets next month, is anyone going to be talking about Chicago and Boston?

    When No. 8 Golden State knocked off No. 1 Dallas two years ago, the Mavericks were a healthy 67-win team favored to win the championship. Their absence from the ensuing rounds changed everything in the playoffs. When Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson were knocking down those ridiculous shots, they were upsetting the entire bracket. So now let's say the Bulls succeed in knocking off the defending champs. Is that going to affect the outcome of the championship next month? The answer is no, because we're going to be watching LeBron and Kobe no matter what. Unless the Lakers and/or the Cavaliers suffer a major calamity of their own, those teams are going to be meeting in the Finals.

    What we are watching here is short-term, disposable entertainment. It is terrific, it is unprecedented and it is unpredictable. But it is not keeping LeBron from a good night's sleep.

    3. So let's enjoy it for what it is. Why does something so good have to be called "the greatest'' of all time? Isn't it enough that it matters in the here and now?

    The rest of the first round has been relatively drab. So Dallas knocked off the Manu Ginobili-less Spurs. So the 76ers caved while yielding Game 6 on Thursday despite the suspension to Dwight Howard. So the desperate Rockets drubbed the baby Blazers.

    If it weren't for Ben Gordon, Allen, Pierce, Salmons and Joakim Noah taking turns pretending to be Jack Bauer, most of us would be looking at these otherwise straightforward playoffs and begging to leapfrog the next two rounds to get to the Lakers-Cavaliers already.

    Instead, we are reminded in a most dramatic way basketball isn't all about the money for champs such as Pierce and Allen, teamwork and effort can elevate the lesser names to some extent, and Rose is going to be one of the elite players sooner than later.

    2. And now for some local color. Or should I say "cullah"?

    This is not an original idea -- it comes from a good friend who is happy to let me co-opt it -- but I wish the national broadcasters would include a local announcer while airing these playoff games. In the case of this series, it would do no harm for the rest of the country to be entertained by the unique point of view of Celtics color commentator Tom Heinsohn.

    While broadcasting Game 6 from Chicago for Comcast SportsNet New England, Heinsohn called Miller "a baby'' for missing his free throws at the end of Game 5 after being clobbered in the mouth by Rondo.

    Here's what Heinsohn said when Rondo and Hinrich scuffled in the first half: "This is all instigated by Brad Miller, who crybabied. Now they're going to be mean and tough in front of their fans. Put it on the blackboard, get mad, get mean, get tough -- no layups, hurt somebody.''

    By including a local broadcaster, the networks would provide an insider's insight as well as an informed (and potentially biased) point of view that you don't find nationally. After one of Heinsohn's diatribes, longtime Celtics play-by-play man Mike Gorman turned to his partner and asked, "Are you channeling Johnny Most tonight?''

    The late Most was the legendary Boston radio voice who used to criticize Celtics opponents in a most vitriolic way.

    "I hate a baby, a crybaby like Miller,'' Heinsohn answered with a laugh. "I hate him!''

    Miller got the last laugh by contributing 23 points and 10 rebounds to the Bulls' victory. When he went to the line for a pair of big free throws at the end of the second OT, Heinsohn had this to say: "I wonder if his mouth hurts.''

    Miller made both free throws.

    1. A prediction. Somehow the Celtics win Game 7, driven through their short-handed fatigue by the support of their home crowd and their refusal to be embarrassed by a first-round defeat. But nothing is improbable any longer in this series -- including the potential for one more big game from Gordon, regardless of his hamstring.

  11. #11
    I don't have limits sonic21's Avatar
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    if game 7 was on abc, It could have set one of the highest ratings for a first round ever.

  12. #12
    Silence surpasses speech. duncan228's Avatar
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    Classic finale awaits a classic series
    Steve Aschburner

    Rather than joining in the parade of people tripping over themselves to stamp just the right superlative on this first-round Eastern Conference playoff series between the Boston Celtics and the Chicago Bulls -- stunning, epic, incredible, exhausting, stupid and a hundred other adjectives that pale next to the videotape and memories still too wet to touch -- we'll stick with numbers, not words.

    Here are seven reasons that this series, properly and poetically headed to a Game 7 on Saturday night in Boston, rates among the classics:

    1. Sheer entertainment value

    OK, we know this is "only" a first-round series. Preliminary rounds in pretty much every sport's postseason rarely qualify for the imprimatur of greatness, simply because they aren't definitive. And because of that, they're not as likely to sear themselves indelibly into our memories. For a long time, for instance, Super Bowls weren't nearly as close or exciting as their magnitude seemed to require, and the early NFC and AFC games that fed winners to them often packed a greater punch. But Roman numerals, trophy presentations and congratulatory phone calls from the White House are hard to top. With the NBA, it's the finality of, y'know, the Finals that adds gravity to the showcase. Besides, that way, we only have to remember one series per year.

    But don't get "classic" mixed up with "greatest." Rings and reputations ride on the NBA series that, these days, begins and ends entirely within June. Destinies get fulfilled, all that mumbo jumbo. Fine, save the "greatest" tag for one of those. But you're neglecting all sorts of terrific, surprising and subplot-laden showdowns if you impose such narrow limits -- only the last series of spring, only when there's one team from the East and one team from the West, only when it goes seven games -- on the list of eligibles.

    Portland beating Philadelphia in six games in the 1977 Finals was classic. The Lakers erasing Portland's 71-58 lead after three quarters to take Game 7 of the 2000 Western finals and spoil the Blazers' near-comeback from a 3-1 series deficit was classic. Dikembe Mutombo lying and crying on the court after No. 8 Denver's upset of No. 1 Seattle in '94 was classic. So was the eight-over-one shocker two years ago, when Golden State put Dallas' 67 regular-season victories in a shredder.

    Well, not only does this Bulls-Celtics series rank among those just cited, it quite possibly trumps them. Here's why: the entertainment value of each and every game (OK, five of six so far, with 35 minutes of overtime as make-up thrills for Game 3). This series lacks the shock value of an underdog toppling a heavy favorite (Kevin Garnett's absence has weakened the defending champions), but it has something even better. There are people in both cities, Boston and Chicago, who will tell you this is the best NBA series they have ever seen -- and they'll still be saying it after Game 7, regardless of outcome. You cannot find many people in Dallas who gushed then or gush now about what happened against the Warriors.

    2. Stars playing like stars

    Whatever resistance might have remained about Ray Allen's eventual worthiness for the Naismith Hall of Fame has been smacked down by his play in this series. He hits darn near everything he attempts and he attempts darn near anything he pleases, popping up as incessantly as the nagging cartoon paper clip on your monitor five minutes before the report is due. There's no shaking him if you're the Bulls, just as there apparently is no fouling him for two free throws when your lead is three.

    Paul Pierce, for the second consecutive postseason, is gaining respect exponentially from the guy who, once upon a time, took turns with Antoine Walker jacking up shots and grumbling about getting out of Boston. He looks bigger, stronger, more relentless defensively and craftier than ever with the ball (notwithstanding the occasional forced attempt and the brain cramp of fouling Joakim Noah on that breakaway in Game 6).

    The Bulls don't really have any stars -- Boston has 29 All-Star appearances on its roster, counting Allen (nine), Pierce (seven), the injured Garnett (11) and Stephon Marbury (two), to Chicago's two (Brad Miller, both). But Ben Gordon and Derrick Rose have shown glimpses of it, enough for teams to trust and pay them like stars when the time comes.

    3. Role players not knowing their limitations

    This is a vital part of any classic playoff series, the unheralded and the unexpected coming through at crucial moments, in ways well beyond their portfolios. Noah has a lot of folks re-evaluating their view of him, from some sort of undisciplined character to a mobile and exuberant big man with a nice sense of timing and defense. We've already mentioned his steal and three-quarter-court dash for a slam, but Noah's defense on Allen's toes-on-the-line shot from the right corner in the second OT was textbook. He has an energy and a relaxed, doesn't-know-any-better confidence that only comes from role players. John Salmons, meanwhile, is a card-carrying scorer. Doesn't matter the month or the moment.

    Rajon Rondo, aside from (ahem) muscling up to whack Miller in Game 5 and whipsaw Kirk Hinrich in Game 6, skipped right over the Rookie of the Year award on his résumé to chase some playoffs MVP votes so far (if, of course, such an award existed). As for Glen Davis, he has emerged to provide 18.7 points and 7.5 rebounds for a shorthanded Boston frontcourt.

    4. The context

    Let's be honest, this wouldn't be as much fun if it were Indiana vs. New Jersey, even with the rosters and histories of the two teams intact. These are anchor markets, not just of the NBA but across all major sports. Their traditions, like their uniforms, are as iconic as they are different. The Celtics are arguably the most successful franchise in NBA annals (chill, Lakers fans), their glory stretching back to the middle of the last century, interrupted by occasional lapses that mostly gave Red Auerbach a chance to flex his craftiness. The Bulls boast two distinct golden eras, amid a lot of struggling, bumbling and broken promises.

    One club claims the greatest winner in team sports history as its most famous and revered alumnus. The other employed the most lethal and famous performer in the modern, high-definition era of 24/7 coverage and hoops popularity. If the NBA wanted to do up this Game 7 right, it would have Bill Russell and Michael Jordan stride to center court right before tip-off, in the spotlights, just to shake hands and exit into darkness. Forget about Michael Buffer or Mills Lane -- the significance would be obvious, trophy or no trophy.

    5. The human element

    You just know that Garnett, if only his doctors hadn't expressly forbidden it, would gnaw off his offending right leg coyote-style to get onto the court. He has done a swell job of avoiding an aneurysm while trussed up in his Sunday best on the Boston bench, a less swell job with the glares and the lip-reader-offending theatrics aired on TNT and ABC. Bulls forward Luol Deng, on the other hand, is virtually forgotten by everyone but the Chicago team that misses him.

    Miller getting a chance to bounce back from his missed foul shots near the end of Game 5 with a huge performance and key free throws in Game 6 is the stuff memories, and classics, are made of. Miller's bloody mouth, Pierce's scraped nose and Hinrich's Scotch-taped brow, too. Hinrich blowing his open layup late Thursday seemed wrong, given his uncomfortable introduction to the scorer's table courtesy of Rondo. But then, his side won.

    There's Celtics coach Doc Rivers growing up just outside Chicago, Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro hailing from Springfield, Mass. Even the front offices offer intrigue and pathos: heavily criticized John Paxson, whose le and GM duties might shift in Chicago next season despite his lauded deal for Miller and Salmons at the trade deadline, while Celtics boss Danny Ainge suffered a heart attack even before being exposed to seven overtime periods.

    6. The numbers

    Seven overtimes in six games. Five of six games decided by three points or fewer. More than 100 lead changes. Sixty-five ties. An uncanny number of three-point shots made to tie games. The longest NBA playoff series, by minutes, already guaranteed, throwing at least 48 more onto the pile of 323.

    Not only are those statistics breathtaking, it's great to have empirical evidence that what we're witnessing isn't just a lot of sleight of hand and right-here, right-now subjectivity.

    7. It still isn't over

    From the final horn while Rondo's desperate fling from half court still was in the air Thursday night until the opening tap Saturday, we have the best of all worlds. One of the all-time classic NBA playoff series -- there, we've said it -- is still very much alive and with us. Moving on (as we all must) and turning our attention to subsequent, allegedly more important rounds (as we all will) invariably will sap at least a little something from this one. Memories fade even as they enhance, and DVDs eventually gather dust.

    Right now, though, Game 7 is a blank slate, one more masterpiece waiting to happen. The air at TD Banknorth Garden, same as in sports bars on the South Side of Chicago and in homes across the country, is ripe with anticipation for something equally amazing happening. For once, the tinkling piano music and black-and-white cinematography isn't doing justice to living color and real time.

  13. #13
    Veteran endrity's Avatar
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    Here is a list by Kelly Dwyer of the best 20 series since 1999. Mavs-Spurs in 06 is number 1 ofcourse.,160612

    Fri May 01, 2009 11:10 am EDT

    Bulls-Celtics and the top 20 series of the post-lockout era
    By Kelly Dwyer

    1. Dallas over San Antonio, 2006

    Simply the gold standard, for our time. Featuring an up-and-comer taking on the defending champs, this contest featured a two-point Spurs win to start it, followed by a shocking 12-point Mavs win in San Antonio. A one-point Mavs win and five-point Dallas overtime victory came next, with a one and five-point Spurs win to follow, ending with a classic Mavericks overtime win in San Antonio that featured a season-saving three-point play from Dirk Nowitzki (37 points, 15 rebounds) at the end of regulation.

    Lots of emphasis on point differential? You bet. This whole list is based on how great and how close the actual games were, not any sort of misty recollections or credence slipped toward teams in the final four or two slots in the playoff bracket. This list is for those who were there, watching.

    2. Boston/Chicago, 2009

    We haven’t even hit Game 7, and yet this is still bordering on an all-timer. Seven overtime periods in six games thus far, alongside one three-point Boston win in Game 2 that turned on the heels of a desperate Ray Allen three-pointer shot over an approaching 7-footer. There may have been more "important" best of seven attempts, but have you ever been a part of one better than this? Assuming Game 7 goes according to script …

    3. Utah over Sacramento, 1999

    Game 1 featured the expected Jazz blowout win, replete with Greg Ostertag scoring at will over Chris Webber on a couple of possessions. Game 2? Things, shockingly, turned. What followed were two overtime games, and one one-point Jazz win, and some of the best personality-driven brand of playoff basketball that we’ve ever seen.

    4. Los Angeles Lakers over Sacramento, 2001

    This is a big favorite, but to us it’s a bit marred by the horrid officiating in Game 6, and a full-on Kings meltdown that took place in Sacramento during Game 7. Still, two incredibly fun and talented teams, essentially giving us the best NBA Finals of the last decade, should you consider the deep East/West divide that lasted from 1999 until recently.

    5. Golden State over Dallas, 2007

    A modern classic, the eighth-seeded Golden State had Dallas’ regular season number for two straight seasons heading into this first round matchup, and proceeded to act as (should have been) expected in this first round against the top-seeded Mavericks.

    6. Los Angeles Lakers over Portland, 2000

    People tend to remember Portland’s fourth quarter flameout in Game 7, one that saw the Trail Blazers give up a 15-point fourth quarter lead to the Lakers in the final 15 minutes. What few do remember is a dogged attempt from the Blazers, down 3-1 at one point, to get to a seventh game. This series featured Portland stealing the homecourt advantage, giving it up with two losses in Portland, before raring back (spurred on by a Steely Dan concert the night before, no doubt) to take Game 6. Only to toss it all away as the team’s lack of a go-to guy became obvious in Game 7.

    7. Phoenix over Dallas, 2005

    What stand out are two best friends, Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash, going at it on several switched screen and rolls. What also stands out are two of the best offensive teams of this generation trading high quality baskets and entertaining play.

    8. Dallas over Houston, 2005

    Sure, the series ended with a 40-point Dallas win in Game 7, but what we remember is the four games in the middle of this fun one that were decided by six points or less.

    9. Dallas over Utah, 2001

    A real shocker at the time, and a series that tipped a lot of us off to the fact that, while "playoff moxie" and "veteran doggedness" might be something to appreciate, let’s face it, talent is an asset. And Dallas had the talent enough to pull out a classic Game 5 win with Calvin Booth hitting a clutch shot down the stretch. OK, maybe "talent" isn’t the word …

    10. Minnesota over Sacramento, 2004

    An underrated one, with five of the seven games turning in at a six points or fewer difference, and Kevin Garnett turning in this Game 7 gem: 32 points, 21 rebounds, two assists, four steals, five blocks, two turnovers.

    11. Phoenix over Los Angeles Clippers, 2006

    A solid runner-up from the best recent postseason (2006) of the lot. Lots of scoring, a double-overtime classic, and Sam Cassell in his last healthy season. Yes, please.

    12. Phoenix over Los Angeles Lakers, 2006

    Only marred, and served second to the Clipper series, by a should-be classic Game 7 that saw Kobe Bryant apparently moping throughout the proceedings. On Saturday night. On TNT. Uh-oh. Otherwise, the series featured two overtime games and plenty of close contests. And Kobe calling Raja Bell (two years older than Mr. Bryant) "kid."

    13. New York over Indiana, 1999

    Now that the pace has picked up in this league, and scores have risen, it’s a chore for some to remember just how entertaining these fin de siècle slow-down contests were. Not pour moi. Sure, some parts were pretty dull, but these things tended to turn around by the fourth quarter. Here, I’ll play-by-play it for you.

    14. Indiana over Milwaukee, 2000

    The Bucks should not have been the eighth seed, they could have probably earned a top-four mark; but they slept through the entire regular season, and barely made it into the postseason over an upstart Magic team that sure seemed to want it quite a bit more. No matter, because once the postseason started, the Bucks stole home court advantage from the eventual conference champions, before eventually falling short in a nail-biting Game 5 that earned Tim Thomas several different Bentleys.

    15. Milwaukee over Charlotte, 2001

    Others may remember the series that follows at #16, but this one was so, so much more entertaining to watch. Sam Cassell, and a young Baron Davis. Elden Campbell. Stop laughing. You have no idea how good this one was.

    16. Philadelphia over Toronto, 2001

    Compe ive, yes, but quite a lot of isolation play. Very slow, very fun in the last five minutes, but very typical Lenny Wilkens/Larry Brown-play.

    17. Dallas over Sacramento, 2003

    I’m sorry, but in 2003, to get to watch a seven-game series where the Kings averaged 111 points per game, and the Mavericks averaged 114.6? Come on. It was like the first time I heard the Beatles.

    18. Utah over Houston, 2007

    If only to give Carlos Boozer (23.5 points per game, 12.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists during the 2007 postseason) the chutzpah, after three double-scotches, to call his agent and ask to opt out of his contract this summer.

    19. New York over Miami, 2000

    Call it a perverse pleasure. I’m full of ‘em. I eat Marmite, daily. No joke. After Bill Simmons made a joke about this series being on NBA TV’s classic games roster back in 2002, I made a point a few days later to make out with an ex-girlfriend with this game flickering silently in the background, as if it were a Teddy Pendergrass record. I’m a sickie, and I love those old Knick/Heat games.

    20. Detroit over Miami, 2005

    Dampened slightly by Shaquille O’Neal’s thigh bruise and Dwyane Wade’s everything bruise in Game 7, this was still an entertaining back and forth.

    Honorable mention: Philadelphia over Milwaukee, 2001; New Jersey over Indiana, 2002; Dallas over Portland, 2003; Miami over New Orleans, 2004; Los Angeles Lakers over San Antonio, 2004; San Antonio over Phoenix, 2005; Cleveland over Detroit, 2007; Boston over Atlanta, 2008; Boston over Cleveland, 2008; San Antonio over New Orleans, 2008.

  14. #14
    The Crominator J.T.'s Avatar
    My Team
    San Antonio Spurs
    Post Count
    wgaf if rondo is throwing around some hits. it's the playoffs. we've put steve nash's bloody face on sportscenter, horry hit david west in the back. you're gonna take some hits in the playoffs. kirk hinrich is a anyway. brad miller was cooler when he had cornrows.

  15. #15
    6X ST MVP Spurtacular's Avatar
    My Team
    San Antonio Spurs
    Post Count
    That was truly a great series. Ben Gordon and Ray Allen were both pretty hot. But C's would've cruised through the east and repeated had KG not had the season ending injury.

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