In close playoff games, fans tend to remember plays during crunch time, but the the truth is that every possession matters in games as closely fought as these first two against Chicago. Throughout the playoffs, I’ll highlight one play in every close game that sticks in my mind as an overlooked basketball nugget. This is totally subjective; feel free to add your own in the comments.
Frozen Moment, Game 2: Perk’s Momentum Killing Turnover: First Quarter, 6:47 to go: The Celtics are killing it to open Game 2. Derrick Rose has two fouls, Rajon Rondo is in the middle of arguably the best quarter of his life and the C’s are up 20-8. Ben Gordon misses a long jumper, which Kendrick Perkins rebounds with Joakim Noah on his back. The crowd is on fire. Noah does a little stunt back toward midcourt, convincing Perk it’s safe to toss an easy pass to Rajon Rondo, who’s about 10 feet away to Perk’s right. Noah sees it coming, steals the ball and dunks it. 20-10, and the first Bulls play that slowed the C’s momentum and got Doug Collins talking about “withstanding the Celtics punch to the mouth.”
Frozen Moment, Game 1: Ray Allen’s missed dunk. I watched this game from a hotel room in Washington, D.C., so I haven’t been able to rewatch a recording of it–meaning I can’t remember exactly what led to Ray Allen attempting a slam dunk. It was 49-42 Bulls with 1:12 left in the second quarter. From what I remember, Ray was bringing the ball up on what might be classified as a slow/secondary break, and the Bulls defenders failed to stop ball or protect the paint. So Ray accelerated through the middle and rose for a lay-in…only he attempted a one-handed dunk and bounced it off the back rim. It looked like he decided to go for the slam in midair, perhaps figuring the Celtics needed an emphatic reminder that they were the Champs.
I can’t remember when Ray Allen last attempted a dunk in any circumstance other than wide open fast break. I was so shocked I actually tweeted about it on the Twitter. Next time, just lay it up, please.