In an interview with ESPNBoston.com’s Jackie MacMullan (video above), Rivers acknowledged the dilemma the team was facing with Allen, who has painful bone spurs in his ankles and has struggled mightily this postseason because of them.
“It’s a tough call with him,” Rivers said Tuesday afternoon. “We’re trying to figure out a different minute rotation for him, maybe that will help him. We’re even considering sitting him for a game, getting him a longer rest and then playing him, and then sitting him for a game. We don’t know what the right thing is.”
Allen scored just 6 points on 1 of 7 shooting (including 1 for 4 beyond the arc) over 39 minutes against the Miami Heat in Game 1 on Monday and was 3 for 7 from the free-throw line.
His playoff production so far has been far below his career averages. He’s averaging just 9.6 points per game (he averaged 18.9 PPG last postseason) and is shooting just 39 percent, which would easily be the lowest playoff shooting percentage of his career.
Even more troubling are his numbers from the free throw line. He is shooting 60 percent (18 of 30) from the charity stripe, a far cry from his career average (89 percent).
"I'm just trying to find my balance," Allen said after Monday’s Game 1 loss to the Heat. "I feel good over it, I'm just not in a great rhythm right now. I just know I don't have good timing right now. The shot feels fine. If it's short, I know that I do have less lift on it . I just take it day by day, trying to figure out what I'm dealing with. I do have restrictions. That's why we have a great team here, why we have each other.
"I believe you guys know what I'm dealing with. It's nothing really to talk about. It's like a battle within myself, I have to try to win. It's a daily situation I have to deal with. This is the time I need to be out here to help the team win. When the season's over with, I'll have to deal with what I have to deal with myself, personally. Right now, it's the playoffs and you play."
Allen made meaningful contributions in the Celtics’ Game 7 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in the conference semifinals, hitting a couple of big three-pointers in the fourth quarter despite struggling for most of the game.
“It’s hard to watch at times,” Rivers told MacMullan. “The Philly game, Game 7, was a hard thing for me. Should I pull him? You’re going back and forth, my staff all wanted me to pull him. You go with your gut and you keep him in and he makes back-to-back 3s."
Part of what makes Allen’s situation difficult is the Celtics don’t have great options behind him if he sits out a game. Avery Bradley, who had taken over the starting spot from Allen, is out for the rest of the playoffs after shoulder surgery. Losing Allen would thrust Mickael Pietrus into the starting lineup.
“We don’t have a lot of options, with Avery out and then with Ray being injured,” Rivers said. “MP (Pietrus) is going to have to be important. Whether Ray plays or not in games, I think MP is going to be big for us, he has to be."
Pietrus played 17 minutes in Game 1 against the Heat, scoring 1 point. For the playoffs, he’s averaging 317.9 and 3.5 points per game.
Rivers also stood by his postgame comment that the technical foul called against him Monday “has to rank as the worst I’ve ever had.”
As one of five technicals called against the Celtics in the game, Rivers was teed-up by referee Ed Malloy after screaming “C’mon Eddie” after no foul was called on a drive to the hoop by Rajon Rondo.
Rivers acknowledged Tuesday he could be fined for criticizing the call.
“I could,” Rivers said. “I shouldn’t. I was just speaking honest. I was asked a question. It was, it was a bad call. If that’s criticizing as ref then I guess it’s criticizing a ref. It’s not like I was trying to do it with intent. But you get fined for a lot of stuff.”