With a five-point lead and less than three minutes to play in Game 6, Doc Rivers put Tony Allen into what seemed like a guaranteed Boston victory. Here’s a sampling of my e-mail box for a five-hour window from 9:47 p.m EST (when Allen came into the game) through 2:30 a.m. EST that same night. All of these e-mails arrived in sequence.
Important note: We’re not running EVERY e-mail, just the ones that provided the best narrative flavor through the last 18 minutes of action, as well as the hour or so afterwards when the readers had time to reflect. Here we go …
Is it me or did David Stern just call Doc Rivers and make him put in Tony Allen to guarantee a Game 7?
— Thomas Green, Panama City Beach
WHY IS TONY ALLEN IN THE GAME? WHY IS TONY ALLEN IN THE GAME? WHY IS TONY ALLEN SHOOTING AND IN THE GAME?
— Tom, Boston
Tony Allen … we’re sure he’s not actually being paid by the Bulls, right?
— John Ranta, Palmerston North, New Zealand
At some point it has to be understandable if Boston breaks out in riots with effigies of Tony Allen right?
— Bryant, Sydney
How with a minute to play, a two point lead and a chance to put the game on ice is Tony Allen the man with the ball in his hands? I guess they wanted to surprise the Bulls.
— Gustin, Greenville, N.C.
WHY IS TONY ALLEN TAKING SHOTS. He just missed two shots in a row. Why is he even in the damn game? Even in Chicago Doc should be able to hear everyone in Boston screaming TAKE TONY OUT!!!!
— Chuck, Nashua, N.H.
I’m really not sure if I’d rather they just take the 24 second violation or have Tony Allen hoisting up shots.
— Perry Delisle, Pepperell, Mass.
WHY IS TONY ALLEN IN THE GAME???????????????
Please explain to me and my friend Kumar (a big Doc Rivers hater) why Tony Allen was once again playing in the last two minutes of Game 6? I am starting to believe your theory about Doc botching games on purpose so that the C’s play more OT ESPN Classic Games. Can you name a worse player that has made more horribly bad shoot me in the head plays than Boy Boy Tony Allen?? This is awful. Please post this.
— Ari Z, Boston, Mass.
Brad Miller makes me ashamed to be white after his back-to-back atrocious celebrations following his three-pointer and slowest layup ever to tie Game 6.
— Skip, Royal Oak, Mich.
Please add Brad Miller’s Game 6 celebrations to the “awkward white player trying to look cool” highlight reel.
— Asante, Princeton
Do you think Vinny Del Negro was too amazed that he actually had timeouts left at the end of the game to actually draw up a decent inbounds play for Ben Gordon?
— Mayank, Vienna, Va.
What does Vinny do during the timeouts? At the end of regulation in Game 6 the Bulls use a 60 second timeout to come up with this play to win the game: Give the ball to Gordon while the other four players stand in the corner and let Gordon throw up a fall-away rainbow. I’m pretty sure Vinny is drawing 3D cubes and NC State logos on the dry-erase board.
— Brian, Indianapolis
Watching Tony Allen in the last two minutes of this game made me feel almost exactly like Grady Little did in 2003, except baseball unfolds so much more slowly, and Grady left Pedro in for several batters too long, so it was like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Tony Allen was a train wreck in real time.
— Troy, New York City
Remember the [Daniel] Craig Bond movie when, near the end, he’s tied to a chair naked and the villain has a large knotted rope and you get this horrible feeling in your stomach when you realize what he’s going to do with it? I feel just how Bond must have felt in that scene when I see Tony Allen coming on in the last couple of minutes of a tight playoff game for the Celtics. Helpless, afraid, alone and a knowing full well that a nut smashing amount of pain is about to be handed to me. Missing two shots in a row in the last minute of game 6? COME ON! WHY IS HE SHOOTING THE BALL! RAY ALLEN IS SHOOTING WELL OVER FIFTY PERCENT AND PIERCE IS TOO FROM INSIDE THE ARK! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
— Stephen, Los Angeles
Give. Ray. Allen. The … Ball?
— Anthony, Seattle
GIVE IT TO RAY ALLEN!!!!
— Steve, Amherst
Bill, is it me or does it look like Tony Allen is playing like somebody told him to throw the game or they’d kill him in the 4th quarter?
— Alex, Philadelphia
At any point during the last three minutes of regulation as he watched the eight point lead dwindle away do you think Doc Rivers ever thought, “Maybe I should put Big Baby back in, this Tony Allen experiment isn’t working out?”
— Jon, Orlando
The Celtics have gone into double overtime in a game they will not win (there’s no way this series does not go to seven games) and Jonathan Van Every is pitching for the Sox, and we all know how riveting it is when a position player pitches. Meanwhile, my wife is complaining that I’m not helping her with the baby. It’s gonna cost me later, I’m sticking with the TV.
— Neil Salon, West Roxbury
Ooooooooooooohhhhhhhhh Johnnnnnnnnnnny Salmons. Do you think he watches “Passenger 57” or “Major League” to get pumped up for games?
— Andy Georgevich, Chicago
Is it OK that watching Brian Scalabrine play in the playoffs still gives me hope of being an NBA basketball player, despite the fact I never made my high school team and haven’t played since 8th grade?
— Mark, Philadelphia, Pa.
Quick! Call your Dad. Make sure he’s OK.
— Jim, Hanover, Mass.
“Kirk put the Hinrich maneuver on Tony Allen.” What angers you more, Kevin Harlan’s terrible pun or the fact that Tony Allen is in during the second overtime?
— Brian, Atlanta
Call your Dad!!!!
— Jim, Hanover, Mass.
You need to devote 10,000 words to Doc Rivers costing the Celtics two games in this series for putting Tony Allen in the game during crunch time. This guy is not only below average skill-wise, he’s also the stupidest player in the NBA. Why does Doc Rivers keep playing this moron??????????
— Gary, Los Angeles
Who finally reminded Doc that Ray Allen was RED HOT for four quarters?
— J. Estabrook, Portland, Maine
Hopefully your book can enlighten the world on why less than an inch of sneaker hovering over the three-point line therefore nullifies it to a two-point shot. 98% of Ray Allen’s feet behind the three-point line isn’t quite enough I suppose? I’m sure they had their telescopes out on the next one he buried.
— Kevin, Peabody, Mass.
Why foul a white-hot Ray Allen on the dribble with a three-point lead when you can let him tie the game? I don’t think Vinny read your column.
— Mike D., New York, N.Y.
Will you please write your next book about this series between the Bulls/Celtics?
— Carl Davies, Chicago
You can brag about this series for a long time. Everything you wrote about this series being a classic is coming true! There’s currently 20 seconds left in the second overtime of Game 6, Allen has dropped 46 and Brad Miller redeemed himself by sinking two clutch free throws. The only reason I can write this is because I’m stuck in a library, unable to watch the game. I’ve been reduced to ESPN Gamecast. Lord. I know the word “epic” gets thrown around a lot these days, but it is completely appropriate regarding this series. Ridiculous. Wait, Allen with 49!!!!?!? Will there be third overtime? This is not happening!! I hate finals …
— Matt, Madison
OH MY GOD OH MY GOD RAY ALLEN OH MY GOD RAY ALLEN OH MY GOD.
— Alex, Princeton, Ill.
I know its been said before, but why in the world would you NOT FOUL WHEN YOU’RE UP THREE IN THE FINAL SECONDS?! Instead, the Bulls let Ray Allen stick another dagger in their hearts. I swear I’m going to end up with an ulcer before this is over.
— Jeremiah, Ames
After the second overtime ended I was half expecting to see a crowd shot of Jake Shuttlesworth.
— Art, Bangor, Maine
Best series ever … that’s it.
— Aaron, Ashland, Ky.
Watching a series like this and a game like this between the Celtics and the Bulls makes me feel honored to be a sports fan. This is incredible.
— Ryan, Alexandria, Va.
Are your kidding me? I’m watching this game online from work and it’s going to a third OT! This is CRAZY! I can’t concentrate. I may have to go home sick.
— Kim, Melbourne, Australia
I guess Jesus Shuttlesworth lived up to his name today. And I must say this series has indeed been a blessing. PRAISE JESUS!!
— Rob, Columbus
I will never doubt you again. Two undeniable truths:
1) Ray Allen is more clutch than Reggie Miller.
2) YOU MUST FOUL WHEN UP BY three WITH LESS THAN 10 SECONDS (especially when the most clutch player in NBA history is on the other team).
I thought you should know that I was compelled to leave my couch and my beer to testify.
— Chris, New York
Simmons, I’m drunk in my dorm room, watching the third overtime in Game 6. Contemplating two things: 1) Would I give years of my life to commit a significant enough crime to get Vinny Del Negro off the bench forever? and 2) Have you noticed how they never play sound bites of Del Negro in the Bulls’ huddle? I think its because his vocabulary — I’ve watched TNT cut to them at least 22 times — is limited to “SUB! SUB!!!!”
— Cory, San Antonio
Bill, I hate the Celtics. I love the Bulls. But I have to say Ray Allen is AMAZING. This series alone is making me an NBA fan again.
— Tom, Madison, Wis.
Does Vinny Del Negro play Pictionary with the team during timeouts? Because there is no possible way that an NBA COACH would actually make those decisions. “When Ray Allen gets the inbound pass don’t foul him immediately and make him shoot two free throws. Let’s let him tie this baby back up with a three.” Or, “Alright Brad, let’s have get you the ball up top and look around for someone to pass to as time expires.”
— Kole, Seattle
Joakim Noah just posterized Paul Pierce. Seriously … I’m not kidding.
— Aaron, New York
NOW how much do you hate Joakim Noah??
— John Carpenter, Salt Lake City
Paul Pierce — from 2008 Finals MVP to 2009 “Guy Who Threw The Ball Away And Stupidly Fouled Joakim Noah From Behind To Cost Us The Most Exciting Playoff Game Ever Played.” That was fast.
— Ralph, Worcester
Have you ever seen such an Eff You dunk than that one by Joakim in the third overtime? That was for all the people that convinced their daughters he was a girl.
— Darryl, Washington, D.C.
Its 10:53 p.m. EST and Paul Pierce just got dunked on by a girl and fouled out at the same time. Not a good moment. At least your daughter will be happy if she is seeing this.
— Tim, Lebanon
Do you think Paul Pierce is going to enjoy being in Joakim Noah posters for the rest of his life?
— Chris Muller, Nashville
Add Brad Miller to the Vengeance Scale for his performance tonight (Game 6). His face after the second free throw (in the second OT) was at least a 9.8 on your stages of NBA Star. If you don’t, at least add to your bio “and an admitted homer.”
— John Mike, Chicago
Bulls-Celtics: “Where Amazing Happens … every other possession.”
— Adam Hodge, Washington, D.C.
How far do you think the Dos Equis man’s reputation has expanded during this Bulls-Celtics game?
— Andrew Gerry, Pensacola
This series sucks. I am not entertained at all and if I paid for this crap, I would demand a refund. You find this seemingly never ending drama between conflicting forces entertaining? It’s really more of a confusing catastrophe. Also, the doc is an idiot. By the way, I’m talking about “Lost” … the Celts-Bulls series is awesome.
— Tag, Cleveland
Is Rose’s block the anti-Bird steal? Also instant candidate for “Where amazing happens.”
— Greg, New Orleans
Given Rose’s reaction to his game-saving blocked shot against Rondo, would you say he is already at least a stage 7 or 8 superstar?
— Scott S., Livingston, N.J.
So Rondo has 8 points and is 4-17 in the game. Allen is dropping daggers and has 51 points and is 18-32 in the game. I can see why you give it to Rondo for your last shot.
— Rob, North Las Vegas
I grew up a Lakers fan, so I’m kind of duty bound to hate the Celtics. The ’90s were my high school/early 20s decade, so I hate the Bulls too. That being said, this is, hands down, the greatest series I’ve ever seen in my 34 years on this planet. Four overtime games? Really? Double AND a triple overtime games? Seriously? I can’t believe it’s possible to enjoy a series this much when I truly hate both teams involved (except for KG. I wept when he signed with the Celts). I actually want to thank every employee of each team, down to the secretaries.
— Nate, Washington, D.C.
I’ve never smoked … .and I had no real rooting interest in this series (I’m a Lakers fan) … but I have an overwhelming urge to have a cigarette after that. I’m pretty sure you’re on your way to the 7/11 right now.
— Gavin Lazarow, Seattle, Wash.
So what did we learn from Game 6? Scalabrine takes first prize in the Michael Rapaport look-alike contest.
— Brendan, Garden City
Let me preface this by saying that I hate both Chicago and Boston. But in my 22 years of following the NBA, this is without a doubt the most entertaining first-round series I have ever seen.
— Kevin, Columbus, Ohio
Bill: How unfair is it that we are witnessing not only one of the most entertaining series of all time (Boston vs. Chicago) but also one of the series filled with the most possible drinking games (the KG’s face drinking game, the Vinny Del Negro coaching mistakes drinking game, the Ray Allen or Paul Pierce does something incredible drinking game) AND IT’S DURING FINALS! As my suite mate put it, “Dude, seriously weak.”
— Tommy, Charlottesville
Do you think late during Game 6 Doc Rivers had a cell phone call from Mike Dunleavy?
“Doc, I’ve been through these multiple OT games with the Clippers, take it from me, you need to bring in a young guy off the bench and stay away from what’s been winning all game for you. The other team will be dumbfounded and confused, Phoenix was just lucky Bell fluked a shot in over Ewing. Go with Tony Allen. Doc, go with Tony”
“Thanks Mike … I appreciate your help, ubuntu out!”
— James, Sydney
1) Greatest non-Finals playoff game EVER!
2) Ray Allen is officially the #1 shooter EVER (you were right).
3) How much MORE do you hate Joakim Noah now (steal from Pierce, and one basket AND fouling Pierce out in the same play)!
4) Derrick Rose will be the MJ of point guards … he played 59 minutes and still blocked Rondo to help seal the game … WOW.
5) I am so amped now, I won’t sleep for hours.
— Chris Rockwell, Dover, N.H.
Was the Celtics triple-OT loss tonight the greatest performance ever by a five man team. Looking at the box score — how does a team play three OTs, score 127 points, and only get 11 out of its bench? This may be one of the all-time worst benches in NBA playoff history. Good luck in Game 7.
— Alan Lathrop, Arcola, Ill.
Why not just air Game 7 of the Celtics-Bulls on ESPN Classic live? We all know that’s where this is going. The only thing that could top Game 6 is if KG gets dressed at the half of Game 7 and hits the series winning shot on one leg and runs around the court like Kirk Gibson.
— Steve Delp, Harrisburg, Penn.
Do head coaches really spend the entire timeout diagramming horrific final shots or do the players just ignore the play and do whatever they want? I really hope that Doc didn’t spend five minutes telling Rondo to take a fall-away jumper against a bigger D-Rose. Or Pierce taking a jumper while being triple-teamed. Did they really forget that Ray Allen had 51 points off screens and set plays?
— Dave, Okinawa, Japan
A part of the game that will for sure be overlooked is the two critical points Boston cost themselves when Allen and House hit three-point jumpers with their feet on the line.
— Tom F., Beverly Shores
You know, I thought I had witnessed one of the dumbest coaching moves of all time when Del Negro ordered the Bulls to use up their last foul for no reason whatsoever … but then Doc goes ahead and one ups him by having an inbounds play where the 6-foot point guard takes a turnaround jumper COMPLETELY IGNORING THE GUY HAVING THE BEST SHOOTING NIGHT IN CELTICS HISTORY!!! Thanks again, Doc, you went from giving me a prostate exam on the weekend to making me consider lobotomizing myself on my couch with my remote.
— Chris, Hartford, Conn.
You have to hand it to the Bulls fan for turning in one of the all time great boo performances (booformance?) on Rondo. They booed him EVERY time he had the ball all the way through the 3rd overtime! Do you even have anything to compare this to?
— Mike, Chicago
Talk about hitting the nail on the head with the “This could be the greatest series ever” column not too long ago. Kudos, sir.
— Marcus Baker, Rockledge Fla.
I know you’re a smart, knowledgeable basketball fan, so I’m sure I’m stating what is already abundantly clear to you: the Celtics gave away Game 6 with about two minutes left in regulation when Doc Rivers put Tony Allen in for Glen Davis up by five. He did EXACTLY what Avery Johnson did in the Dallas-GState series a few years ago when Johnson took Dampier out of the starting line-up to try to match up with the Warriors’ speed: he stopped focusing on his team’s strengths and worried about matching up with the other guys. The Celtics had just come off an 18-0 run and had their foot on the Bulls’ neck, and what does Doc do? Get worried because the Bulls go with four guards (Rose, Gordon, Hinrich and Salmons), and take out the guy who had just recently had a couple nice post-ups and was the only remaining Celtics big with a mid-range game, in turn completely leaving the lane open for Perk to cover when Perk’s man (Brad Miller) can hit the outside shot. This is why Miller scored the last five points to tie the game: because Doc made Perk guard the lane and Miller outside the three-point line AT THE SAME TIME. Doc royally screwed up this time and now the Celtics have to play for their lives in one game because of it. This one is entirely on Doc for overcoaching a team that was doing quite fine on its own.
— Nick Ordway, Cambridge, Mass.
What is more amazing through six games? The fact that Tony Allen’s +/- is -43 in 48 minutes played, or the fact that he continues to get playing time?
— Grayson, Lewisburg
I swear to God I am writing a will right now and it is going to delineate that the epitaph on my gravestone end with “and he never forgave Doc Rivers for bringing Tony Allen in during crunch time of Game 6 against the 2009 Bulls with a five-point lead.” I have not been this upset by a Celtics game since Mourning hit that buzzer beating elbow jumper to knock the Celtics out in 1993 in McHale’s last game. Worst coaching move ever.
— Ryan, Boston
Is there a greater victim of this “greatest first round playoff series of all time” than Danny Ainge? The man suffered a freakin’ heart attack. Can we win Game 7 by 10+ points for his sake?
— Paul Dias, Boston
So apparently I have to set my DVR to record strongman competitions and putt putt tournaments in order to get all of the Celtics-Bulls game. Seriously, how am I supposed to anticipate three overtimes? Shouldn’t the cable and satellite companies have figured this out already?
— Joe, Las Vegas
Game 6 was one for the ages and will be known forever as the Brad Miller Revenge game. It could have also been the Ray Allen 51 pointer if the Celts had won.
Or The Derrick Rose Blocked Shot game. Or The Salmons Special (try it, it’s Fresh!).
And upon further review, it will probably get a really long title: The Triple Overtime Brad Miller Revenge Game. It’s got a seven-word title which trumps even six-word behemoths like The Rose Bowl Presented by AT&T. And that game earned all seven words of its title.
Say it again: The Triple Overtime Brad Miller Revenge Game. 100/100. 5 stars.
— Mark Liyeos, Chicago, Ill.
Predictions for Game 7 of one of the craziest series I can remember: 1) Rondo is ejected in the second quarter after tangling with Joakim Noah’s hair. The Garden goes nuts as he throws his jersey into the crowd on his way out the tunnel a la Dennis Rodman. 2) Garnett suits up in case of overtime. 3) Gordon sticks two fingers up under Ray Allen’s nose after icing the game-clinching jumper. 4) Kentucky Derby + Bulls/Celtics + Pacquiao/Hatton means Vegas sees more betting action Saturday than the Super Bowl. All bets are off.
— Alex, Urbana
If I had told you that the Bulls/Celts first round series would have five OT games, including a double and triple ot game … or Omar would get shot in the head by a little kid, and it wasn’t even the series finale … which would you have been more likely to believe?
— Herb Ragsdale, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
I thought you would appreciate my friend’s take on Game 7:
“Game 7: Nine overtimes, Ray Allen hits 30 threes, Garnett has a Willis Reed moment in the seventh overtime, Derrick Rose dunks from half-court, John Salmons shoots a three from the stands with a Celtics fan’s hand in his face, Gordon hits an off balance floater from the parking lot, Rondo has triple digits in all categories, Vinny Del Negro decides to play his dad, Jordan returns, the universe explodes.”
— Tom H., Madison, Wis.
Whatever happens in Game 7, when the game is done, the Celtics and the Bulls should do an NHL handshake at half court. This has been the basketball equivalent of the Bruins vs. the Hawks in the ’70s. No matter who wins, both teams should walk off the court and call it a season. They just played the best series ever and whatever happens next is trivial.
— Greg Mullins, Cupertino
Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine. For every Simmons column, as well as podcasts, videos, favorite links and more, check out the revamped Sports Guy’s World.