I can’t go without mentioning the major story line of this game between these two hated rivals as Ray Allen returns to Beantown for the first time since he jumped ship to sign with the Miami Heat in free agency.
Obviously there will be strong feelings on both sides going into today’s showdown. Allen was part of a great five year run that brought the Celtics back to previous glory but is seen by many as a Benedict Arnold of sorts for leaving for their biggest conference rival.
On the other hand, Ray was always involved in trade rumors, had a rift with star point guard Rajon Rondo and lost his starting spot late in the season to Avery Bradley so its easy to see the arguments from both sides at the end of the day. I personally couldn’t do what Ray did but then again I’m not a professional basketball player.
Opening night brought some fireworks as the Heat won the first matchup between these teams 120-107. Allen immediately showed why Miami signed him as he scored 19 points in 31 minutes. No one will forget when Ray approached the Celtics bench and the snub by Kevin Garnett when he checked into the game for the first time.
What should be of more significance however for the Boston Celtics is snapping this season high six game losing streak. Friday night’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks was particularly bad as the Celtics blew a 27-point lead in the second quarter and the Hawks went on to win 123-111 in double overtime in Atlanta.
The Celtics are currently three games below .500 at 20-23 while the Miami Heat lead the Eastern Conference at a record of 28-12. If the season were to end today these two teams would match up in the first round as Boston is hanging onto a two game lead for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. It wouldn’t be right if these two teams don’t see each other in the playoffs this season.
Rajon Rondo was a late scratch from the lineup with a hyperextended right knee which he injured in Friday night’s loss to Atlanta making matters more difficult for the Celtics.
Boston needs to get on track in the worst way and what better way to do it than to beat the defending champs?