Down the stretch, the big three delivered.
Ray Allen knocked in two huge fourth-quarter three pointers to quell the building Orlando momentum as the game raced to a finish. Allen ran around screen after screen to get open for a team-high 26 points, on scintillating (and increasingly typical) 8-11 shooting.
After taking a total of 0 (zero) fourth-quarter shots until the final minute, Paul Pierce finally knocked in an and-one elbow jumper to put the C’s up for good. Then he swatted away a late-game three-pointer on the defensive end.
And Kevin Garnett, returning after a 9-game absence from a strained calf, put in 19 points and 8 rebounds in 31 impressive minutes, including a potentially game-saving steal of a Jameer Nelson pass on the second last Orlando possession of the game.
By the time, they got the ball back for their final shot, it was too late.
The Celtics had this one wrapped up.
So, while it was by no means easy with Dwight Howard unloading on an overmatched Celtics’ frontline to tally 33 points and 13 rebounds, Boston passed this test without Kendrick Perkins and Delonte West (both of whom, we might add, could have addressed a couple of major problems tonight).
But we’ll get into those later on.
For now, enjoy the win.