Ray Allen knows that the Boston Celtics can play with anyone in the NBA. Last night, that unfortunate opponent happened to be the Chicago Bulls and Allen’s 22 point performance helped lift the Celtics to a 106-92 victory. The win also inches the team that much closer to locking up the # 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Boston is currently 6 games ahead of Detroit with only 8 regular season games remaining. Even with the best record in the NBA at 59-15, Allen believes that they aren’t the favorites coming out of the East.
“It’s not like we won last year,” he said. “We’re all pretty much new to the situation.”
He’s right, last year the Celtics had the 2nd worst record in the NBA at 24-58 and were hoping for either the 1 or 2 picks in the lottery draft trying to land one of the top prospects to begin a rebuilding phase for the organization. And as fate would have it, the Celtics ping pong logo ball did not come up until the 5th spot breaking every Celtics fan’s heart.
With the off-season acquisitions of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, the draft day disappointment became a memory of the past, visions of the future began to look much brighter and an organization that was once a dominant force in the league was resurrected.
The last two Celtics victories have proven that the team can win with both its defense and its offense. Over the weekend, the C’s held the Heat to 17 field goals and only 66 points on the night. That field goal total was the lowest in NBA history since the shot clock era. Last night, the Celtics nailed 14 three-point field goals and shot over 49% from the floor. They can do it all.
“We knew what we were facing (against Boston),” Bulls forward Tyrus Thomas said. “I think everybody in the room knew what we were facing. They’re not the best team in the league, record-wise, for nothing.” Thomas scored 24 points, leading the Bulls in the losing effort.
Allen shot 5 of 7 on the night from behind the arc, while fellow guard Paul Pierce hit 4 of 5 shots from three point land and ended up with 17 points. Kevin Garnett pitched in a solid 20 point effort and grabbed 7 boards in the win.
“The 3-point line can be very tricky at times,” Allen said. “You have so many open looks, and I know I’m capable of making them. Paul knows he’s capable of making them, but I think there’s a stigma attached when you shoot too many threes—you’re settling. But the way our offense is, we go through the post. Sometimes, that’s the shot that’s available.”
The Celtics are back in action again tonight when they travel back to Boston to take on the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers are battling for the final playoff spot in the East and currently are 3 games behind Atlanta in the standings but 4 of their remaining games are against teams with less then 30 wins, and they also have a key game vs. Atlanta. The Celtics on the other hand are going for win number 60 on the season, the last time the franchise had a 60 win year was in 1986 en route to their 16th NBA Title.
Did someone say Green 17?