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NBA’s best — for now, at least — decided tonight

Even with all their injuries, the Celtics have played like one of the NBA’s best all season. But tonight, they’ll meet the only team with a better record: the San Antonio Spurs.

Even with all their injuries, the Celtics have played like one of the NBA’s best all season.

But tonight, they’ll meet the only team with a better record: the San Antonio Spurs.

San Antonio has been fortunate — they’ve had their first-choice starting lineup intact for every game this year. That’s something the Celtics can only dream about.

Even so, tonight’s game is a battle of each conference’s best ... at least at this point in the season.

“They have the best record in the league for a reason; they play well at home and on the road,” Ray Allen said after Monday’s win over Minnesota.

The Spurs and C’s are built similarly. Filled with proven veterans who know how to win, each team is relying on leadership as well as the integration of the youth.

Tim Duncan is putting up career lows in points (13.6), rebounds (9.4), and minutes played (28.9), but the Spurs keep on winning. He has plenty of support from his teammates to help carry the load.

“[The younger players] are coming in and subscribing to [Greg] Popovich’s philosophies, and they’re able to give Tim Duncan a lot of minutes,” Allen said. “Offensively he’s not producing what he’s done over his career because he’s got other guys stepping in and playing well for him.”

The C’s are now looking for guys to step in and play well for them, too. Losers of three of their last six games, they haven’t been sharp since the injury bug bit Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett.

There won’t be any room for error in tonight’s game.

“One of the best teams in the league,” Shaquille O’Neal said of the Spurs. “We are going to have our hands full. Against a team like that, you got to do everything right.”

 
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