The NBA’s royalty has nothing on this year’s Boston Celtics.

 

Fresh off dismantling LeBron James’ legacy in Cleveland, the C’s took down Dwight Howard and the Magic in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference finals series, 92-88.

 

Could Kobe Bryant or Steve Nash be next? The way things are looking right now, it’s hardly far-fetched.

 

Boston absolutely hammered Orlando in the early going, taking a 22-14 lead after the first quarter and a 41-32 advantage at the half. A Jameer Nelson-led rally brought the Magic within one possession in the third quarter, but Paul Pierce (22 points, nine rebounds) helped the C’s turn it back around. By the time the fourth quarter dawned, Boston led by 16.

 

Orlando did everything right in the last frame, closing within two points in the waning seconds. But a pair of clutch free throws by Ray Allen gave the C’s a 92-88 lead — their final margin.


Defense, Allen said, was the key to victory.


“We played hard in the paint,” he said. “We made them take those shots out on the perimeter, but we also got a hand in their face.”