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Dan Shaughnessy

Enjoying sights of the seven C's

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By Dan Shaughnessy
Globe Columnist / May 3, 2009
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Did Derrick Rose and friends really have a chance last night? This was, after all, a seventh and deciding game in Boston against the Celtics.

There's Game 7 magic in those parquet panel floorboards. If you take it to the limit against the Celtics, you should be prepared to suffocate in the North End Vault. Beating the Celtics in a Game 7 in the Garden is like beating a Kennedy in a Massachusetts election.

After six games of blood and thunder - including seven overtimes, multiple sutures, and 108 lead changes, the Celtics gored the Bulls in the finale, 109-99, in a game that lacked the drama of most of the series.

"We've done it before," said captain Paul Pierce. "We were confident coming into our building in Game 7."

Since 1957, the Celtics are 17-3 at home in seventh games. Bill Russell was 10-0 in Game 7s.

Blessed with hearts as large as Big Baby's head, these depleted defending champs now advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals. After the Bruins play Game 2 of their series with Carolina tonight, the Celtics open Round 2 tomorrow night at home against Superman Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic. So even though the Bulls are done, the bull gang is going to be very busy in the big barn on Causeway Street.

"I'm proud of our guys," said Doc Rivers. "The Bulls were phenomenal in this series, but I'm really proud of our entire team. Our bench hadn't given us much, but they came through tonight."

Amen, Doctor. Eddie House torched the Bulls hitting 5 of 5 floor shots, four of them from 3-point range. Pine brother Jackie Moon Scalabrine added 8 points and the Celtics got unexpected help from missing persons Stephon Marbury and Mikki Moore.

There is no "I" in ubuntu.

There was significant pregame anxiety about the finale because Chicago proved to be perhaps the toughest No. 7 seed in the history of basketball and the Celtics were again playing without their 21st century Russell: Kevin Garnett.

The faux ambiguity regarding Garnett's status dominated the 36 hours leading to Game 7. It was wacky and ridiculous. Based on all statements and evidence, there was no way Garnett was going to play. Still, we wondered. No matter how many times Danny Ainge and Rivers closed the door on Garnett's return, the topic resurfaced. It was downright Elvis-like. Would KG burst out of the locker room at 8 p.m. and carry the Celtics into the second round?

No. There was no KG during warm-ups. There was no KG running out for introductions. When he finally appeared he was dressed in a beautifully tailored suit.

Garnett had a front-row seat to see the Celtics fall behind by 9 early in the second quarter. Scal kickstarted the comeback with a missile launched from international waters and the Celtics took the lead for good when House stole a Ben Gordon pass, then drained a trey off a give-and-go play with Rajon Rondo.

That was it. The Bulls never got closer than 3 the rest of the way, which made this game an absolute aberration . . . and a reprieve for Ainge and the rest of us who got heart palpitations watching the first six games. Ultimately, it looked like both squads were somewhat spent.

It ended at 11:03 p.m. with House tossing the ball high above courtside in the general direction of the 1968 championship banner.

So what did we learn from these seven games spaced over 15 days?

We learned that the Celtics are worthy champions. With Garnett sidelined and Leon Powe KO'd in Game 1, the 2009 playoffs have the feel of a Quixotic quest, but that has not deterred the C's. We all know that the conference finals are going through LeBrontown this year and the Cavaliers look unbeatable. But the Celtics refuse to die.

We learned that the Bulls are going to be a handful in the next few years. This was a much tougher challenge than the Celtics got last spring when they were taken to seven games by the upstart, eighth-seeded Atlanta Hawks.

We learned that Rajon Rondo is officially one of the best point guards in the NBA.

We also learned that anything is possible in this world of video review. Chicago's Ben Gordon canned a long-range jumper in the first quarter, which was ruled a 2-point shot at the moment of execution. Amazingly, with 5:44 left in the game, it was announced that Gordon's first-quarter shot was actually a 3-pointer and the fourth quarter score was changed from 89-83 to 89-84.

This is somewhat akin to Bud Selig tomorrow announcing that the St. Louis Cardinals actually won the 1985 World Series because video shows that Don Denkinger messed up a call in Game 6. Scary stuff, no?

But we digress. The Celtics are moving on. The Bulls are done and the bull gang is just getting warmed up.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at dshaughnessy@globe.com.

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