Shootaround: Allen still game-time decision
May, 1, 2012
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com
ATLANTA -- Celtics coach Doc Rivers said shooting guard Ray Allen did limited work during the team's offday practice Monday, but that he would try to ramp up again on Tuesday and remains a game-time decision for Game 2 against the Hawks at Philips Arena.
Even still, it seems unlikely Allen will play. Rivers said he didn't even ask Allen or team trainer Ed Lacerte about whether the player had made any progress with a balky right ankle that's forced him to miss the last 10 games, including Sunday's Game 1 loss.
"I didn’t even ask [about Allen's health], honestly," said Rivers. "We didn’t do much yesterday anyway. We'll do the same thing -- we make two plans and if he’s ready to play, we’ll play him; If he’s not, we’ll go the other direction."
The Celtics will also be playing without suspended point guard Rajon Rondo, which will force the team to move Mickael Pietrus into the starting lineup alongside Avery Bradley, who will shuffle to the ball-handling role (though the team expects the offense to often run through Paul Pierce).
"It’s what it is," said Rivers. "We’re going to have to help [Bradley run the offense]. He has improved, obviously, at that position, but he’s more comfortable at the [shooting guard spot]. Paul will have to do some ball-handling duties to help out. We anticipate them pressuring him; That’s what they do to speed Avery up and we can’t allow that."
Hawks forward Josh Smith wasn't bashful in admitting that his team will try to capitalize on the absence of Rondo and the fact that Bradley is not a pure ball-handler.
"Do what he does to us," Smith said of pressuring Bradley. "He’s one of the great defenders in this league at his age, so we'll just see if he likes it a little bit -- picking him up full court, turning him a little bit, [and] making it hard for him to initiate the offense."
Smith again called Rondo the "head of the snake" for the Celtics, but said the key was not allowing Bradley to get his confidence up early. Game 1 was his first career playoff appearance and the absence of Rondo (and potentially Allen) leaves him with big shoes to fill Tuesday.
Rivers said the team might also utilize Keyon Dooling and rookie E'Twaun Moore at the point if necessary.
"Keyon and Avery will play together at times if we feel the pressuring is taking us out of our stuff," said Rivers. "That’s where losing Rondo hurts you. He's really our only true point guard. So that’s where that suspension hurts you."
Rondo remains in Atlanta despite the one-game suspension for bumping a game official that will prevent him from being on the court Tuesday. Rivers said the team is trying its best to simply move forward from the situation.
"It is what it is," said Rivers. "You make contact [with an official], they’re probably going to suspend you. Obviously, having one [game] means they thought about zero as well -- or two, you could go either way -- but it’s over now and we just move on."
Rivers shrugged off any concern about potential that the suspension could have been longer than one game. Rondo can return to action with Friday's Game 3 in Boston.
"I wasn’t going to sit there and worry about it," he said. "It’s out of my hands. There are things I'd rather watch, like a movie... Those are the ones I just let go, because you have no control over that. The one thing I was happy with was how quickly they did it, I thought that was great."
Rivers said that there have been instances in the past where teams haven't learned of suspensions until after shootaround on the day of a game, making it hard to plan. The Celtics purposely held Rondo out of practice on Monday and, afterwards, got confirmation from the league that he would indeed be suspended.
"To me, the fact that they did it early enough -- it was after practice -- but at least it gave us enough time to prepare for it," said Rivers.