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Right before the trade deadline I wrote an article suggesting the Celtics should trade Ray Allen to the Warriors for Monta Ellis. Well Ray, I apologize. Mr. Allen made me and all of the other doubters out there look pretty silly as he nailed a game-winning three-pointer with 17 seconds remaining in Sunday night’s 86-83 victory over the Washington Wizards. With the Garden crowd on their feet, Allen came off of a screen by Kevin Garnett, received a pass from Rajon Rondo, and swished a 25-foot dagger.
The game ended up being much closer than most thought it would be, and the Celtics trailed for almost the entire game before turning it on down the stretch. Boston trailed by six points at the half, and found themselves in a dicey situation, down by four points heading into the fourth quarter.
Staying within striking distance through the first three quarters allowed the Celtics to use the energy of the crowd to help mount a furious comeback in the last eight minutes of the game. Boston went on a 20-4 run to close out the game, during which an inexperienced Wizards squad, which had been shooting over 50 percent from the field for most of the game, couldn’t hit a big shot. The Celtics finally decided to play a little defense while Allen, who missed a few open looks early in the game, refused to shy away from the spotlight, and pulled through in the clutch. Allen finished 10-15 from the field and scored a game-high 25 points.
A depleted Wizards squad benefited from strong performances from Al Thornton and Andray Blatche. The two young talents gave Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett all they could handle and then some, out-performing Boston’s All-Star veterans. Thornton, an offensive machine while playing at Florida State, finished with a double-double, scoring 24 points and grabbing 11 boards. Blatche, 23, hit 50 percent of his game-high 20 FG attempts, finishing with 23 points and nine boards.
After a few very strong performances during the Celtic’s three-game win streak, KG had one of the worst offensive outings of his career, going a dreadful 0-7 from the field in 31 minutes. He scored all of his eight points from the free throw line. Boston didn’t get much help from their bench either. Rasheed Wallace, Marquis Daniels, Glen Davis, and Nate Robinson combined for just nine points.
The win helped the Celtics reach the 40-win mark for the third straight season, and extended their current winning streak to four games. For whatever reason, the C’s have struggled at home this season, where they are 18-11. Without Allen’s game-winning shot, the Celtics would have lost to two of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference, at home, in the same week. That’s a scary thought. On the bright side, their success on the road means this team might be OK entering the playoffs as the third or fourth-seed in the East.