Posted by Kevin Arnovitz
Our initial intention here at TrueHoop was to cue up the ten best moments across all eight series of the first round. When it came time to start taking nominations, the Celtics-Bulls series stood above all the others. We're tempted to call these highlights "indelible moments," but there have been so many ridiculous shots and outrageous exploits, there's no way to remember them all. In case you've forgotten some of them, here's our list of the 10 most dramatic moments of the series thus far, with every hope that Saturday's Game 7 will extend this list even further:
1. Joakim Noah's steal and one-man break/power slam (Game 6, 3rd Overtime, 0:40)
In a series defined by its frenetic energy, there isn't a guy on the floor more frenetic and more energetic than Noah. It's only fitting that, with the game tied 123-123, Noah punctuated one of the most dramatic games in postseason history with an improbable steal and fast break.
2. Paul Pierce's game-winning step-back jumper (Game 5, Overtime, 0:03.4)
There's a reason sportscasters refer to it as pivotal Game 5. Pierce's tie-breaking bucket over John Salmons was the pivotal play of the series' pivotal game.
3. Ray Allen's game-winning three pointer (Game 2, 4th Quarter, 0:02)
Allen has made a career of coming off screens and hitting big shots from beyond the arc. In a game the Celtics had to have, Allen saved the C's with one of his biggest on record.
4. Rajon Rondo's foul on Brad Miller (Game 5, Overtime, 0:02)
(The play appears at the :40 mark of the video)
5. Derrick Rose's block of Rajon Rondo (Game 6, 3rd Overtime, 0:07)
Noah's steal and coast-to-coast break was the emotional peak of the third overtime Thursday night, but it didn't seal the game for the Bulls. The Celtics had the ball, down one, with a chance to close out the series, but Rose's defensive stand saved the game for Chicago.
Leading by three with :09 remaining in overtime, the Celtics elected not to foul on the inbounds pass, which leaves an opening for the unconscionable -- and unconscious -- Ben Gordon.
7. Derrick Rose's driving layup & clutch free throws (Game 1, 4th Quarter, Final Minute)
it's easy to forget that the first fireworks of the series were launched by Rose. In his playoff debut, he twice gave the Bulls the lead in the final minute of regulation -- first knifing through the entire Celtics defense for a driving layup, then sinking a pair of free throws with nine seconds left. As Matt McHale of By the Horns said, "Not only was it one of the all-time great rookie playoff debuts, it spurred the Bulls to an improbable and unexpected upset of the defending champion Celtics...and it let the world know this was going to be a series."
(The plays appear at the 1:35 mark of the video)
8. John Salmons' three-pointer to cut five-point lead to two (Game 4, 1st Overtime, 1:47)
For a few fleeting moments in the first overtime of Game 4, it appeared as if the Celtics had finally wrested control of the series from the Bulls, as Boston built a five-point lead with fewer than two minutes remaining. Then John Salmons hit what Celtics Hub's Zach Lowe called the "most overlooked monster shot of the series."
(The play appears at the 1:28 mark of the video)
9. Paul Pierce's game-typing jumper (Game 5, 4th Quarter, 0:10.5)
Pierce was huge in the overtime period, but it took a nifty spin move and a jumper from Pierce over Derrick Rose in the closing seconds of regulation to lift the Celtics to the extra frame, and keep them from facing elimination in Chicago.
(The play appears at the 1:50 mark of the video)
10.Paul Pierce's missed free throw (Game 1, 4th Quarter, 0:02.6)
After getting fouled by Joakim Noah out on the perimeter with the Celtics trailing by one, Paul Pierce stepped to the line with a chance to put Boston on top. Unfortunately for Celtics fans, Pierce, in the words of Celtics Hub's Brian Robb, "brought back the ghosts of Pierce's struggles at the line from Game 4 of 2003 Eastern Conference finals." If Pierce drained both free throws, would the world have been deprived of the most electric first rounds series in NBA history?
(The play appears at the 2:24 mark of the video)