Over the course of a first-round series that many are already calling the best ever, seemingly every player on each team had made their mark on a game. Some with big blocks, some with clutch shots, some by making up for their own mistakes. So it was only fitting that the one player who had yet to have a moment to call his own was the one to heave the ball into the Garden rafters as the buzzer sounded on Boston's 109-99 Game 7 victory over the Chicago Bulls.
And rightfully so, because Eddie House, with 16 points on 5-of-5 shooting in 21 minutes, all but paid the postage on the series clincher. Only he didn't do it out of his regular playbook. He did it with defense.
Entering the game 5-of-18 from beyond the arc in the series, House's shot had been cooler than a polar bear's toenails, and that translated to his minutes falling to 10 per game in Games 5 and 6. With the jumper not falling, Doc Rivers could not afford to go small with House beside Rajon Rondo or Stephon Marbury. So Saturday night, rather than shooting himself out of a slump, House flipped the script.
"The only talk I had with Eddie is, 'Your defense is not your offense,'" Rivers said. "'We need you to be a great defender.' And Eddie tonight, defensively -- He proved something that we didn't know: that he actually can be a damn good defender."
Before he even attempted a field goal with 5:11 to play in the second, House had accrued 3 steals. Not cheap steals either, as House created confusion in the passing lanes with preying hands that frustrated Chicago ball-handlers. And once the fountain of defense started flowing, so came the offense. After House forced the third turnover, his first attempt was all buckets.
"Just being locked in defensively," House said of the key to his start. "Not really being worried about where I'm going to get my shot from but making sure he doesn't get his shot. Then maybe getting a stop and getting something in transition."
Two possessions after the first three dropped, along came another. For the first half, with the Celtics leading 52-38, his job was done. For the second, there was much to come. Because once the jumper gets wet, especially for a 44% three-point shooter, there's no turning back.
"He was huge and that's the thing with Eddie once he hits its first shot it triggers his next shot," Kendrick Perkins said.
House's first two shots splashed down in the fourth, the second of which was a corner three in front of the Bulls bench players, screaming at him to miss. House earned a technical for it, but, as if the shot didn't speak for itself, House yelled back, "I've been here before."
And he would be again. House's big shot of the night, the one that had the crowd chanting 'ED-DIE, ED-DIE,' came with 2:29 to play when, with the Bulls making a late run, House dropped in a trey to extend the Celtics lead to eight. Minutes later, he capped off his perfect shooting night with a pair of free throws. After the Bulls failed to convert on their final possession, the game ball was in House's hands and then, elegantly, sailing 50-feet above the parquet.
And so, one of the finest series we've seen ended with Eddie 'Money' House buying the Boston Celtics two tickets to the second round and, in the process, making sure the fans got what they paid for.
"You got your cable money's worth," he said.