Notes: Rivers optimistic about Allen
RIVERS THINKS ALLEN WILL BE READY FOR PLAYOFFS
Celtics coach Doc Rivers acknowledged prior to Tuesday's victory that Ray Allen's prolonged ankle woes are a "concern," but he did offer one of his only glances of hope in recent weeks after the game, when he noted that he thinks Allen will be ready for the postseason, which will begin either Saturday or Sunday against the Atlanta Hawks.
"I think Ray will be ready," Rivers said. "I don't know that. I do think he will be ready. But if he's not, someone else has to be."
WILLIAMS MAKES GARDEN DEBUT
Playing in only his second game with the Celtics, Sean Williams made his TD Garden debut on Tuesday night, and it was a noticeable improvement over his brief three-minute stint against the Hawks last Friday. Williams played 20 minutes on Tuesday, scoring 5 points to go along with 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals.
His most distinguishing impact came in the fourth quarter, in which he managed 4 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists, helping to spark Boston as it outscored Miami 28-16 over the final 12 minutes. Williams impressed Rivers with his competitiveness down the stretch.
"It was OK. I mean, he's a shot-blocker, doesn't know a lot of our stuff," Rivers said when asked to assess Williams' performance. "He was pressing early. ... One thing I did like about Sean down the stretch -- he's competitive, and you can see that. He wasn't going to back down from anything. He got some great blocked shots, so that was good to see."
When informed of Rivers' compliment to his competitiveness, Williams touched on the need to take advantage of opportunities when they're presented.
"This team, we have goals. We want to be champions," Williams said. "Everybody has to come out focused, with the mindset that we can't waste any time out there, and we can only get better with every opportunity. A game like this, with the Big Four out, all of us players on the bench -- a lot of the players haven't had a lot of action this year and what not -- it's a chance to prove to Doc that we're ready whenever he's going to call us."
Williams played less than eight minutes in the first half, but settled into a rhythm nicely in the final quarter, and was able to produce in a variety of areas. He admitted afterward that he was more relaxed throughout the second half, and that allowed him to be more effective.
"You go out there, your first time out there, you get tired real fast, your legs get down on you real quick," he said. "Everything kind of shuts down on you when you first get out there, so, yeah, I caught my second wind, I guess, in the second half."
HOME-COURT ADVANTAGE STILL POSSIBLE
The Celtics are set to play the Atlanta Hawks in the opening round of the playoffs this weekend, but where the first two games will be held has not been decided. Both the Celtics and Hawks won on Tuesday, meaning the Celtics still trail Atlanta by a game in the standings. Both teams wrap up the regular season on Thursday (Boston will face Milwaukee while Atlanta will battle Dallas), but if the Celtics win and the Hawks lose, leaving the teams with the same record, Boston will assume home-court advantage by virtue of the head-to-head tiebreaker (the C's won two of three regular-season meetings).
Despite a desire to still rest any players that might need it, there's no denying Thursday's game takes on heightened significance.
"We're going to play our guys Thursday, anyway, especially because they didn't play today," Rivers said, referring to the likes of Kevin Garnett and Mickael Pietrus. "It would be nice to put some more pressure and force Atlanta to have to win. That would be nice."
Added Keyon Dooling, "We expect to win every time we go out on the court. No matter who suits up, we expect to win the game. Hopefully our guys are getting their rest, which is really important, but our seeding is important as well. If we have to get that win, we're coming in trying to tear their head off."
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