Ray Allen’s 3-pointer last night about the Knicks did more than win the Celtics a game.
It made them legit title contenders.
Forget the late-season slump. Forget the fact Kendrick Perkins is toiling elsewhere. Forget how Amare Stoudemire tore Boston up for 47 minutes in Game 1.
Allen’s shot erased all that.
Most teams playing the NBA’s particular style of “basketball” have one strategy at the end of a tight game: Give the ball to the best player, get out of the way.
The Celtics — at least last night — didn’t fall into this trap.
They could have let Paul Pierce (their top overall player) try to take his man 1-on-1. They could have let Rajon Rondo (the flashiest Celtic) attempt to drive and score.
Instead, they kicked it outside. After a double screen, no less. A smart play. A good play.
And the kind of play only a truly elite group would think to make.
Say what you will about their age or their lack of talent in the middle (Jermaine O’Neal aside). These Celtics have flipped the switch in the playoffs once more.
They’re for real.