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Top Three/Bottom Three Moments of Game 5

 

It’s been 30 hours, so I think we’re ready to reminisce about how great that Game 5 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals was. To evaluate the up-and-down moments of the game, I invented these things called “Top Three” and “Bottom Three” lists where you rank things by putting numbers in front of them. It’s sort of complicated but you’ll catch up.

BOTTOM THREE

1. Rondo’s backcourt violation. This was in the midst of a 10-0 Heat run when Rondo, I guess, decided that his team needed to hit absolute rock bottom in order to start on the road to recovery like in Intervention. Master interventionist Jeff Van Vonderen would call that backcourt violation a cry for help.

It’s a little weird that Rondo, maybe more famous for his “court awareness” than anybody on Earth, has a recent tendency to not actually pay attention to the lines that the court has drawn all over it. Twice in the last two weeks he’s set up for threes with one foot halfway across the line, and now last night he nonchalantly tosses the ball back to Ray after he’s already a healthy two meters across halfcourt. For a while this moment was in danger of being the most memorable thing about this game, until Good Job Good Effort Kid cut its head off and burned the stump.

2. Pietrus biting on Wade’s pump fake with 6:40 to go. In a series of falling for every pump fake he sees, this one was somehow the worst, in the worst situation, off the worst fake. All Wade did was gently wave the ball upward and Pietrus was already nine feet in the air, making sure to jump forward too so he could completely mush Wade on the way down.

This moment sucked because it seemed to prove that all the terrible things that were hamstringing the Celtics in this series would just keep happening unabated. Pierce would keep missing shots (I think he’d just airballed a three right before this), Bass would keep out-mediocring everyone, and if Wade or James said jump, Pietrus wouldn’t ask how high because he’d be too busy landing on them. Although I did really like Pina’s bit in the recap last night about Pietrus biting on pump fakes he sees on TV. Just leaping off his couch and crashing into his flatscreen, exploding it.

3. Wade’s block on Bass. This was darkest night. Is there a more miserable feeling than being forced to admire someone you despise? Because that block was A++++++ GREAT SELLER WOULD BUY AGAIN. Yeah, he’s taking advantage of Bass’s doll hands, but…lord. That block should be made into a diamond sculpture. Really hated how good it was.

That combination of pure athletic transcendence and the bloodlust it would have brought out of the crowd at that moment, with the Heat ahead by six with six minutes to go, should have absolutely ended the game. Just shut it down. There should be no recovery from that. The curtains were basically falling as Wade poked the ball away, and NBA arenas don’t even have curtains. But then something utterly butternuts happened.

TOP THREE

3. Rondo’s fingertip pass. Seamless time continuity from Bottom Three to Top Three! Something to strive for in the list business.

I’d like to think that, in the Pentium 11 processor that is Rondo’s basketball mind, he redirected that ball to Pietrus just to get revenge for that Shane Battier three that robbed Avery Bradley’s equally weapons-grade block on Wade in the regular season of its relevance. So Bradley’s block is going to be lost to history because it led to more points than Wade’s shot would have given up? Fine. Now nobody gets remembered. Kudos bars to Jeff Van Gundy for recognizing the importance of what Rondo did in real time. Before the replay it kind of just looked like the ball doinked off LeBron’s shoulder right to where Pietrus happened to be chilling.

2. Pierce’s three. By my metrics, Pierce loses 1000 respect points for taking a contested three with less than a minute left and a one-point lead, and then earns back 950 for making it. So that’s a net loss of 50 respect points, roughly equivalent to what you’d get for watching the Kiss Cam during a timeout. As much as I now realize that I wouldn’t have preferred any other eventuality to that shot over that defender in that specific moment…I still can’t condone the decision making. Before you argue that he “knows” he’s going to hit that shot when he goes up: please listen to yourself. Also completely hilarious how Pierce brings up that the “shot clock was running out” when he put it up, given that he had just DRIBBLED OUT SIX SECONDS 23 feet from the basket and there were still five left.

But, again, while it doesn’t bode well for future Pierce decisions, it was still the greatest thing that anyone could do ever, except for hitting that exact shot and getting the foul call Pierce clearly earned when LeBron slapped his elbow. I read somewhere today (I forget where) the following description of the shot: “That wasn’t a dagger. That was Excalibur.” Enjoyable.

1. The merciful end. Having any moment other than the end in a “Top Three” is a little misleading, because every moment prior to the end was just different kinds of torture. I spent the whole second half in kind of a silent, closed-mouth scream. Some people bite their nails when they get nervous, some grind their teeth, some smoke. I eat Otter Pops. They’re like these plastic-tube popsicles that come in boxes of 10,000 for two dollars. In New England they’re called Fla-Vor-Ice. Anyway, from the second quarter of Game 5 to the end, I consumed roughly 59 Otter Pops. I also bite my nails.

The end, the moment when Keyon Dooling threw that ball up like he was setting it free, finally released all that gut-bunching tension. It’s an easy number one, because the game was only fun after it was over. The minutes after the buzzer also provided us with Good Job Good Effort Kid, whose story is probably already being turned into a network pilot, and KG’s postgame interview where he revealed that he’s still weirdly furious at that Hawks owner the rest of us had already forgotten about. But everything before that was largely unpleasant. All the free throws in the final minute, for example, were completely unwatchable. I’m going to be peeing rainbows for days because of that game.

  • Phil

    It is funny how the two best blocks in the series this year (and probably the two best blocks in Celtic games all year,) both led directly to three pointers for the other team.

    Definitely agree with the progression of emotions from scared stiff to jubilation too. I just sat there nervously rocking back and forth for the entire fourth quarter.

    Also, flavor ice are awesome. I had some Warhead brand flavor ice not too long ago, and its all the flavored icy goodness of normal ones, yet sour. I'd rank it right up there with written language and the Snuggie as far as key inventions for humanity go.

    • hdavenport

      Warhead flavor ice??? REALLY. I knew about the soda-flavored ones and the jelly bean ones, but somehow haven't seen the Warhead ones. Although as a volume consumer I could probably really hurt myself with those.

      • CelticsBIG3

        I have a box of them in my freezer. I may try that instead of sucking on the oxygen mask tonight.

  • AdelaideCelticFan

    Your entire bit about "3. Wade’s block on Bass." is wonderful. Butternuts.

  • CelticsBIG3

    "They’re like these plastic-tube popsicles that come in boxes of 10,000 for two dollars. In New England they’re called Fla-Vor-Ice. Anyway, from the second quarter of Game 6 to the end, I consumed roughly 59 Otter Pops. I also bite my nails." Simply fantastic

  • SteveB

    Great article. It was strange how I felt the same way watching late in the game. I actually thought to myself that I should be happy the Celtics were hanging in and could win. I was so nervous I could barely get excited even when good things happened. Like I didn't want to jinx them by celebrating too early. Then after they won I don't want to celebrate because there is still one more win to get. Let's do it.

  • skeeds

    god damn that block was awesome… Almost physically impossible. Even Wade turned his head away, because he knew the most likely thing to happen was his hand being ripped off, slammed through the hoop along with the ball, and slapping him in the face.
    How this guy manages to pull head on, squared up blocks against people twice his size is beyond me. Let's hope Avery's getting jealous right now. That's the kind of trick that would be awesome if he picked up…

  • lucidsportsfan

    Pierce's 3 was insane. Can't wait for tonight. This is guaranteed to get you pumped: http://www.lucidsportsfan.com/2012_06_03_archive….

  • Tommie

    The only way I was able to watch that game without causing myself neck pain from the stress was to accept from the beginning that the C's were probably going to lose. I know fans are supposed to "believe" in their team rather than merely hope they win. But I just can't take the stress! Because of the heart of this team, all the likeable players, and all they've overcome this season, I just want them to succeed. I'm preparing for a loss tonight but I know they are more than capable of closing out.

  • High Rollers

    Is this inspired list making, tortured list making or both? Got that out of your system now, Hayes? Ready for Game Six?

    Excalibur!

  • srb

    For tonight to have something to focus on besides the magnitude of the game, I'm going to count the number of times Pietrus is the last one to make it over half court on offense. If you guys watch that KG dunk again that's on the slowest fast break ever, the one where Lebron doesn't cover because he's too busy whining, Pietrus NEVER EVEN MAKES IT OVER HALF COURT

    • High Rollers

      I'm going to give Peaches the benefit of the doubt and say that he just doesn't want to miss his defensive assignment. He's that locked in and singularly focused on his main role. For better or worse.

      I jest. The dude is perfectly willing to get involved on O. If he must.

  • High Rollers

    Hayes, the symmetry is nice, but maybe it should be FOUR worst and FOUR best. Whenever Pierce picks up a fifth foul with any serious time left on the clock, it goes down on the worst list. Then, there was a little thing at the beginning of the game that gave me supreme (if slightly irrational) confidence in the C's chances. I was hoping against hope that we'd somehow manage to get the tip, even though we weren't at home and we don't seem to get many tips outside the Garden (although my mind might be confabulating that to fit the moment). Anyway. We didn't get the tip that night, and I was disappointed in a way and a little discouraged. But then Rondo did something I haven't seen him do before that night. Miami scored or they didn't, I can't remember that, but they probably did, AND THEN the C's took the ball out. That's where Rondo carried over his tip routine to the sidelines out of bounds play. That's when I knew he was bound and determined to carry out the routine and be who he was no matter what fate threw at them. And Fate was intent on throwing LeBron's kitchen sink at them. Then Rondo took that sink and did a header with it, and now we're all anxiously waiting to defend the Garden. So, the tip that wasn't but really was should be number 4 on our good list. Or number 1. Either way, it was telling… from the littlest of little things standpoint.

    • High Rollers

      Just to be clear, he didn't literally do a header on the side-out. Whatever he did I can't really describe it. It just had that little undeniable jazzed up quality to it that screamed I'm here, deal with that… if you dare.

      • High Rollers

        I should say, We're here.

  • SteveB

    I know the players would never feel like some of the fans feel but a win tonight to send the Heat home would be like another banner to me. I wouldn't feel bad if they hung a conference championship banner up somewhere just for that. I will have no stress if they get past the Heat and play OKC. Unless of course they reach a game 7 in the finals. For all they've been through, this team has truly defined "grind" and "grit and balls".

    • High Rollers

      I'm sitting on the edge of superstition as we speak, but I simply can't wait for this combination Star Wars / Ordinary People saga ahead. Okay, that's enough. I'll go cleanse my mind somewhere now, somehow, someway.

  • Josh

    As everyone is my witness, I just have this gut feeling Ray Ray is gonna have a monster game tonight. You heard it here first my friends.

  • Anthony

    I know I'm getting ahead of myself but towards the end of last nite's game, I kept thinking about how the Celts are going to match up against OKC and how great it would be to have Jeff Green and AB to guard Durant and Westbrook. It could be dubbed as "The Trade" with Green for Perk. As it was pointed out, OKC essentially went through the 3 best team in the Western conference from the past 10 years and now would have to go through the best Eastern conference team of the past 5 years. I'm sure Perk called up Rondo and told him that he'll see him in the Finals.

    Go Celts!! Let's close it out tonite and go to OKC for game 1.

  • CelticsBIG3

    So nerve racked. Anxiety zone

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