Bulls, Celtics Wrap Up Series

The seventh and deciding game between the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls is being played Saturday in Boston. The two teams have engaged in an epic battle featuring multiple overtime games.

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JACKI LYDEN, host:

It's pro basketball playoff time, and usually, the early rounds are known for their mismatches and blowouts. Not this year, at least when it comes to the Chicago Bulls and the Boston Celtics. They split their six games so far, four have gone into overtime, and the teams tip off tonight in the deciding game of what's being called one of the greatest series in NBA history.

NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman joins me now. Hi, Tom.

TOM GOLDMAN: Hi, Jacki.

LYDEN: A really thrilling first-round series. Isn't it the kind of description usually reserved for the NBA finals?

GOLDMAN: It certainly is, but you know, the thing is this thing has just been through the roof with excitement, as you've already alluded to. We've got a couple of highlights, all heard on TV network TNT. Now, there have been so many big moments, but let's just zoom in on Game 6, Thursday night. That was the best of the lot. The Bulls won 128 to 127 in triple overtime.

Here's one of the big plays near the end.

(Soundbite of basketball game)

(Soundbite of applause)

Unidentified Man: Joakim Noah has just given the Chicago Bulls a two-point lead.

GOLDMAN: Now that was a truly amazing play. Joakim Noah, who's just a hair under seven feet, stole the ball, dribbled the length of the court, dunked and got fouled by Paul Pierce of the Celtics, who fouled out of the game on that play. It was a very athletic play for such a big man, and it gave Chicago the lead for good.

LYDEN: You know, I haven't seen that much excitement in Chicago since the last time the Bulls won the final or maybe the very final sale at Marshall Field's.

(Soundbite of laughter)

LYDEN: Tom, I know a lot more went on in that dramatic game. What else?

GOLDMAN: Well, yes, this highlight from just a few seconds later.

(Soundbite of basketball game)

(Soundbite of applause)

Unidentified Man: (Unintelligible) shot was rejected by Rose.

GOLDMAN: Now, that was Chicago's transplendant rookie point guard, Derrick Rose, blocking the transplendant Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics, last-second shot that could have given the Celtics the lead with eight seconds left in the third overtime, but the block helped Chicago to hang on and win the game after that.

You know, Jacki, you're lucky to get a few of these plays in a playoff series with the announcers going crazy like that.

LYDEN: Oh, so crazy. I love it.

GOLDMAN: Yeah, it's been nonstop. You have had 106 lead changes in this series. You've had seven total overtime periods. The entire NBA is just out of its mind over this thing.

LYDEN: So Tom, it's great, but what's behind this? Why are the Celtics and Bulls putting on such a great show?

GOLDMAN: I think what we're seeing are two teams that match up really well against each other. Both are missing some key players, but the guys left on the court are pretty even at each position. There's not one transcendent star who's obviously dominating at his position. So you're having a lot of tit-for-tat baskets, a lot of back and forth.

LYDEN: So any guesses about what might happen tonight, Tom?

GOLDMAN: Yes. A guess, I'll call it an educated guess, is that Boston is going to win. The home team has won four of the six games here, and Boston is playing at home tonight. Also, Boston is the defending champion. Last year, on their way to the title, they had a couple of Game 7s, and that's a very pressure-packed situation. They know how to deal with that. So I am going to go out on a limb and say Boston unless, Jacki, Chicago has the ball, the score is tied with two seconds left.

LYDEN: Thanks for giving Chicago a little credit there, Tom.

(Soundbite of laughter)

A whole lot of people will be watching. Thank you.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome.

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