In what might shock most people outside of Boston, especially after the Celtics went into the All-Star Break with a 15-17 record, the C’s clinched the Atlantic Division title tonight with a 102-98 win over the Orlando Magic. Going into the 2011/12 NBA season, it was generally accepted that the Carmelo Anthony-led New York Knicks would cruise to the division crown over a pretty old Celtics squad. However, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen have all wound back the clocks and have proven their doubters wrong. They have one last run left in their well-traveled bodies. 2012 will be their year.
Tonight was a perfect example of how the Celtics operate. At times they can jump out to big leads behind great shooting from Pierce (29) or unsung hero Avery Bradley (23). Other times they win with their defense when the game gets tight – 6 blocks, 6 steals, and a total of 16 forced turnovers. However, when it comes to crunch time, there’s usually only one or two guys to be called upon, that being Pierce and Garnett. Tonight it was the captain’s turn as he scored 7 of the Celtics last 10 points over the final 2:47 to clinch the victory.
Given that the C’s have wrapped up the Atlantic Division with three games to go and have guaranteed themselves the 4-seed heading into the playoffs, look for Doc to get the veterans some much needed rest. The Celtics next game is Friday in Atlanta at 7pm as they face off against the Hawks.