The Thunder-Memphis series resumes Tuesday night with a chance at history. The Thunder and Grizzlies have played three straight overtime games, tying an NBA postseason record. Portland-Houston is giving OKC-Memphis a run, having had three overtime of its own, though not in succession.
But the Thunder-Grizzlies series will have to keep up this pace to match the greatest playoff series ever: Chicago-Boston 2009.
The Celtics and Bulls played four overtime games in all, including three straight, the first a double overtime and the third a triple overtime. And one of the non-overtime games was a three-point verdict that was a tie game with three seconds left.
Of course, there are two common denominators in OKC-Memphis 2014 and Boston-Chicago 2009. Tony Allen and Kendrick Perkins. Both were Celtic bulldogs.
After Game 4 Saturday, Perkins was asked about that 2009 series and said, “Yeah, I never thought about it like that, but it’s definitely a battle. It’s an interesting series. For both teams, when you’re trying to get to where you’re trying to go, you’re going to go through stuff like this. You’ll never know who’s going to step up to the plate and win the game for you.”
In that series, Allen played only in the first six games, totaling just 48 minutes. He had just two points total, with eight rebounds. But he was effective. His plus/minus was +20 for the series – Boston outscored Chicago by 20 points with Allen on the court.
In that series, Perkins was a 24-year-old center who could really play. He averaged 13.3 points and 11.6 rebounds. His plus/minus was 30.
To show you how good was that series, here’s a game-by-game breakdown:
Game 1 at Boston: Boston’s Paul Pierce missed a foul shot with 2.6 seconds left in a tie game. Chicago’s Brad Miller missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. Then in overtime, Chicago’s Tyrus Thomas hit a 21-footer with 50 seconds left to give the Bulls a 105-103 lead. Big Baby Davis and Pierce missed shots right at the basket in the final 30 seconds, and Ray Allen missed an 18-footer.
Game 2 at Boston: Allen broke a tie with a 3-pointer with two seconds left in the game, then Thomas missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. Boston escaped 118-115.
Game 3 at Chicago: The Celtics won 107-86, the only blowout of the series.
Game 4 at Chicago: Allen’s 3-pointer with 9.8 seconds left in regulation tied the game, then Derrick Rose missed a 14-footer at the buzzer. In the first overtime, Ben Gordon hit a tying 3-pointer with 4.5 seconds left for Chicago, and Rajon Rondo missed a 21-footer at the buzzer. In the second overtime, John Salmons’ two foul shots with 16.9 seconds left gave the Bulls a 106-104 lead, then Salmons blocked Pierce’s 3-pointer in the final second.
Game 5 at Boston: Pierce’s 15-footer with 10.5 seconds left tied the game, then Gordon missed a 20-footer at the buzzer. In overtime, Pierce’s 19-foot shot with 3.4 seconds left gave the Celtics a 106-104 lead, then the Bulls’ Miller missed two foul shots with two seconds left.
Game 6 at Chicago: You just thought this series had gotten good. The Bulls were down eight points with three minutes left. But Chicago rallied, and Miller scored at the rim to tie the game with 29.7 seconds left. Then Boston’s Pierce and Chicago’s Gordon missed 17-footers in the final seconds. In the first overtime, Salmons scored on a drive to tie the game with 23.5 seconds left, then Pierce missed a 15-footer at the buzzer. In the second overtime, Allen’s 3-pointer with 7.6 seconds left tied the game, and the Bulls didn’t get off a shot. In the third overtime, Rondo’s layup brought Boston within 128-127 with 23.7 seconds left. Then Kirk Hinrich missed a breakaway layup for Chicago, Rose blocked Rondo’s 12-footer with 7.4 seconds left, Rose missed two foul shots with 3.2 seconds to go and Rondo’s halfcourt heave missed at the buzzer.
Game 7 at Boston: The Celtics won 109-99.
You’ve played a whale of a series, Thunder and Grizzlies. But you’ve got a ways to go to match Chicago-Boston 2009.