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As if there was any doubt, the Celtics officially clinched the Atlantic Division Wednesday night. The 2nd place 76ers can win no more than 51 games (the C’s current win total), and the Celts have already won the season series tie-breaker.
In a game without Ray Allen (out with an elbow injury), Kevin Garnett (out the last 13 games with a knee injury), and Dwayne Wade, the only star remaining shined brightest. Paul Pierce scored a game-high 36 points to go with 11 rebounds in 47 minutes to lead the Celts to a 112-108 win in overtime.
Without Wade, who missed his first game of the season with a right hip flexor, Miami’s young talent played well. Michael Beasley led the squad with 21 points and seven rebounds off the bench. Mario Chalmers added 19 points, nine assists, and two steals. Jermaine O’Neal scored 17 points in the loss.
Glen “Big Baby” Davis returned to the lineup to fill in for the injured Leon Powe (bruised right knee) and finished with eight points and seven rebounds. Besides Kendrick Perkins, the only healthy big men were Davis and Mikki Moore. Moore and Davis picked up their fourth fouls in the first half…and both fouled out in the fourth quarter. Knowing how thin the team was at the forward position, these guys should have been more careful!
Stephon Marbury started in place of Ray Allen, and had four points and six assists in 31 minutes. Rajon Rondo picked up the slack, finishing with 27 points and 10 assists.
The Celtics next play Friday against the Spurs. Will they get any players back by then?