House On Fire

A Daily Babble Production

The first six games of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals didn't treat the Boston Celtics' single-season record-holder for three-point accuracy too kindly.  Good thing Eddie House will most likely be remembered for his performance in the final contest instead.

For six games, Eddie House suffered through the type of shooting malaise we haven't seen from him all season: 9-for-30 from the field (30 percent) and just 5-for-18 from three-point land (27.8 percent).  If that wasn't enough to limit his minutes, he didn't help himself at the defensive end.  The Bulls attacked with House's man (Derrick Rose, Kirk Hinrich or Ben Gordon) as soon as the diminutive guard entered the game and made him pay for his lack of wingspan or lateral speed. 

All of that went out the window on Saturday night at the New Garden.

As The Guru remarked after the game, "He had me on board before he even took a shot."  That vote of confidence came courtesy of House making two pretty steals in a span of less than a minute in the midst of the second quarter.  Throughout his time on the floor, House worked with renewed vigor on the defensive end, sprinting to keep his man off the ball in order to avoid more blow-by situations for Chicago guards.

And then the hallmark of the man Tom Heinsohn once called Eddie Mansion arrived.

When Rajon Rondo found House on the left wing with just outside five minutes to play in the second quarter, the Bulls led, 37-36.  In the split-seconds it took House to fire off his patented quick release and the ball to pound through the twine, Chicago's final lead of the season vanished.  A minute later, House ran to the top of the key, caught and released another pass from Rondo and exploded into his standard post-shot theatrics as the trey went down. 

House's suddenly hot hand and competent defense allowed the Celtics to go the first nine minutes of the second quarter while having at least Ray Allen or Paul Pierce resting.  He did his job not only in scoring six points at a crucial time but also in contributing to a swarming defensive effort that limited the Bulls to 11 points for the period.

Though the work ethic and attempts at ball denial remained, House's defense wasn't quite as good in the second half as he let Ben Gordon get to the baseline against him on a couple of occasions.  But he did more than make up for it with his shooting. 

A foot-on-the-line two started the scoring for the Celtics in the fourth quarter.  When the Bulls finally pulled to within four shortly thereafter, Eddie took care of damage control with a bucket from the left corner.  But he saved his play of the night for the final two and a half minutes.  With the Bulls within five, Paul Pierce drove right and met nothing but red traffic.  But as he did, he slung the ball across to House in the left corner.  The guard ball-faked his man into jumping past him, created space with some sort of tricky footwork that I'm fairly sure isn't legal, pulled his right foot back behind the line and launched.  The dagger bottomed to put the Celts up eight as time ticked away on the Bulls' season.

Each of his five made baskets came complete with the entire Eddie House animation package: jumping up and down, fist-pumping, screaming, spewing trash at the opposing bench behind him, waving his arms to pump the crowd, the whole nine yards.  While the Celts could have done without the taunting technical that Eddie picked up in the fourth, I can't help but settle for maintaining something I've said throughout his two seasons in green: There is something exhilarating about watching Eddie House shoot the basketball and react to success. 

Last night, that success came at both ends of the floor as House played better defense than we had seen from him previously in these playoffs while putting together a perfect shooting night of 5-for-5 from the field that included 4-for-4 three-point shooting and two made foul shots for 16 points.  It is thanks in no small part to Eddie's efforts that the Celtics' season will continue on Monday against Orlando.

Wee-hours reaction to the Celtics' 109-99 Game 7 victory to advance past Chicago:

  • House isn't the only green reserve who earned props as the Celtics' bench finally outplayed that of the Bulls.  For the second consecutive game, Brian Scalabrine hit a couple of shots late in the first quarter to keep a moderate Chicago lead from getting out of hand.  This time, he knocked down two threes and a foot-on-the-line two in a span of 3:01 wrapped around the break between quarters.  For a guy who missed so much time with post-concussion syndrome and whose playing status looked murky as recently as late last week, the redhead gave the Celtics plenty in this first round.
  • Still, two bemusing Scal gaffes of note: He had the ball stripped from him by Kirk Hinrich on a right-block post-up, and Derrick Rose sprinted back to block his shot on what appeared to be an uncontested fast break.  The Rose play was phenomenal.
  • Also producing off the Celtics' bench: Mikki Moore.  Though he played less than three minutes, he notched a tip-in, made two foul shots, took a charge and didn't do anything at either end of the floor that inspired me to scream profanities or fire projectiles around my living room.
  • At 14-for-23 early in the fourth quarter, the Celtics appeared headed toward another night of miserable foul shooting that could have proven costly.  Instead, they got the Bulls in the penalty right away, attacked the basket, drew fouls and made their last 16 freebie attempts.  That's the way to close a game.
  • The Infuriated Infant made just one of five foul shots and did not score again from the field after doing that ridiculous pogo-stick-head-bob dance upon scoring a bucket while drawing a foul late in the third quarter.  That's karma.
  • Karma aside, while Large Baby did have a rough shooting night overall (6-for-16 from the field, 3-for-7 from the line), he finished a couple of pick-and-rolls, made a lay-up off a beautiful feed from Rajon Rondo and executed a cutting dunk on a pass from Perk en route to posting 15 points.  Baby's ability to finish lay-ups on which defenses force him to double-clutch is really a sight to behold.
  • Since his skirmish with Kirk Hinrich early in Game 6, Rajon Rondo hasn't looked the same as far as his own aggressiveness going to the rim is concerned.  But he spent Game 7 making superb passes to his teammates.  Two highlights: a one-hand, cross-court bounce-pass to Paul Pierce behind the defense for a lay-up, and the aforementioned dish to Glen Davis that involved curling the ball around the body of Joakim Noah with his left hand. 
  • Though Paul Pierce didn't have a great shooting night of his own from the field (6-for-17), he made his presence known with several lay-ins, a 7-for-8 performance at the foul line and a powerful drive straight through the Bulls' defense for a dunk in the second half.  Credit Brad Miller for hedging out straight into John Salmons's way on that one.
  • Ben Gordon had an awful night from the field but still managed to hit four threes, get himself to the line 15 times (and make all 15) and toss 33 points up on the board.  For thankfully the final time this season, I reiterate that this guy can fill it up.
  • The Infuriated Infant may have set the most illegal screen in the history of basketball.  With Ray Allen controlling on the left wing, Glen Davis sprinted up to Ben Gordon and drove him away from Allen without ever stopping his own motion.  Ray drove to the rack for an easy two, and the screen proved rather effective.  Couldn't help but grin at that one.
  • It's been a long time since we saw a defensive effort from the Celtics like we did in the second quarter.  Swarming, physical, give-no-ground, stop-'em-now, playoff defense.  Fine effort across the board in that regard, fellas.
  • With his 5-for-5 performance from the line, Joakim Noah finished this series shooting 76 percent (19-for-25) from the stripe.  He also collected double-digit rebounds in six of seven games.  Good showing for him.
  • Ray Allen did everything wrong on the fast break in the game's final minute - including looking over his shoulder and losing control of the ball - and the result turned out as perfectly as possible: He drew a foul from Brad Miller and flipped the ball up and in.  The man continued his ever-so-smooth ways with a 9-for-9 performance at the foul line.
  • Fine game, Kendrick Perkins: He went up strong around the rim (6-for-8), controlled the glass at both ends (five offensive boards, 13 total), played good defense inside and made two big foul shots after hurting his shoulder on a foul by Brad Miller.  Also credit Perk for taking part of an amusing double-technical sequence in which one player fouled another, the recipient of the contact staggered away holding his injured shoulder and the referees slapped both fouler (Miller) and foulee (Perk) with technicals, presumably under the auspices of "keeping things under control."
  • Derrick Rose cooled off after a hot first quarter, but he still hit his share of floaters and runners in transition as well as a couple of jumpers.  Watching his growth over the next few years is going to be a pleasure.
  • It's hard to adequately convey just how relieved I am to have these Bulls out of my day-to-day being for the foreseeable future.  This team gave our beloved Celtics everything they could handle for these last two weeks.  The quickness and firepower of Rose and Gordon, Kirk Hinrich's rugged defense and hot shooting, Unstoppable John Salmons's Killer Goatee and ability to put up points in a hurry, Joakim Noah's refusal to quit, Tyrus Thomas' leaping ability and Brad Miller's general toughness all make appearances on the long list of factors making this Bulls team such a tough out.  Though there is some uncertainty on tap for the summer regarding the personnel, I'm excited as a basketball fan to see how this young core continues to grow next season.  I've got nothing but respect for this group of Bulls.  I won't miss having these guys invading my mind every day.  That's a compliment.
  • Similarly, much thanks again and plenty of respect to the many insightful Bulls aficionados who dropped by CelticsBlog throughout the series.  Led by my colleague Matt from Blog-a-Bull, several minds from the other side offered a new perspective to our discussions.  Among others, special recognition goes to Calogero, Prevenge, Envy, MPG, Ozzie Montana, chgobr and Jaina (as well as Blazer diehard Honka Playboy) for all your contributions over the last two weeks.  Your voices are welcome here any time, and I look forward to reading your views on the coming off-season in Chicago.

Here's to a relaxing Sunday, Celtics fans.  Bring on Orlando!

***

Unrelated note, just so we're on the record before we make the full slate of second-round picks later this week: Denver over Dallas in six.

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