- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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WALTHAM, Mass. -- Celtics guard Ray Allen offered optimism over his ailing right ankle and said he expected to go through practice with the team on Thursday, but coach Doc Rivers stressed that he'll keep a close eye on Allen's activity while trying to figure out the proper balance that will allow him to get back to game action.
"The last couple of days, I've been in a really good place, so I'm optimistic," said Allen. "If I'm sitting here [Friday] feeling good, that's a different story. I am optimistic about practicing today so that's definitely a great step for me moving forward."
Allen missed the final nine games of the regular season and the first two games of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with the Atlanta Hawks due to soreness in a right ankle that will require surgery to remove bone spurs after the season. Allen has been a game-time decision each of the first two games and will likely be the same for Friday's Game 3 at TD Garden, the key being how his ankle responds to Thursday's activity.
"He wants to do more today, so we’ll see," said Rivers. "We did that [Monday] and it didn’t work. So, we have to maybe limit Ray from Ray. He’s such a creature of habit and I actually thought that might have hurt him or any chance for him to play, obviously. [The ankle] reacted that poorly after just the workout he did [Monday], it was probably good that he didn’t play, at the end of the day."
Rivers said he'll put Allen through practice on his watch and stressed he'll pull the reins if necessary.
"He’s a tough one, he's such a creature of habit, and he does his workouts -- the night before every game he comes in and does two hours of shooting and then before the game he does his hour of shooting. That’s a lot of work," said Rivers. "We have to figure out a way to allow him to do some of it, but not so much where he just can’t play. I’d rather take 10 minutes of him on the floor than nothing, if that’s what it comes to."
Rivers said no one on the team is really quite sure how to bring Allen along.
"He told me [Wednesday] that he was going to practice and I told him, ‘We’ll see.’ Really, I don’t even know what to do. Honest to God," said Rivers. "[Team trainer] Eddie [Lacerte] and our doctors, we’ve all talked -- we don’t know what else to do. We don’t know if practice is a good idea or not."
Allen joked that, when he goes out in public, Celtics fans have pleaded with him to reduce his basic activities hoping that will allow him to get on the floor.
"It’s always funny, when I’m out in public, people will say, ‘Oh, don't pick up that box because we need you for tomorrow’ or ‘Don't do this,’ and I’m like, 'If I can’t pick up this box, I don’t need to be playing tomorrow.' That’s kind of been my life," said Allen. "I am built. I stay in the weight room and I do the things I need to take care of my body. I don’t want to baby myself. I don’t want to baby my ankle. I want to make sure I go out here and put it through everything, because tomorrow [the Hawks] don’t care about whether I’m healthy or not. If I’m on the floor, they are going to do everything they can to try to exploit what I’m doing out there. So I gotta do everything I can today in practice."
That did lead to a humorous discussion of remedy suggestions for Allen as he tries to get back on the floor.
"The one that I’ve been given, I don’t know if you’ve heard this, but it's red clay dirt. I got that. My mom, her friends, everybody says, ‘Get some red clay dirt and put it on your ankle,’" said Allen. "I’m like, ‘We have some of the best doctors in the world that I just got done looking at, and I come home and I gotta hear about red clay dirt. I hear it all. You get the e-mails, everybody suggests something. I appreciate it because everybody does want you to get better. I do appreciate all the well-wishes, because everybody has been great.”
[Update, 1:30 p.m.: The Celtics said Allen made it through the full 75-minute, on-court portion of the team's offday workout. Boston worked mostly in halfcourt sets, which limited the activity, and the key remains how the ankle responds Friday].