Boston Celtics: Tony Allen
After all, it was just two summers ago that Pierce, fresh off inking a long-term extension, expressed dismay after the Celtics watched Tony Allen leave for Memphis and scrambled to fill out their roster. In mid-July that year, Pierce lamented that only "slim pickings" remained and opined: "Sometimes I'm looking at all the players signing and wish we would get on the ball a little bit. I trust in Danny to put a good team around us, but I'm sitting here watching all these good players fall to other teams."
This summer, it was the rest of the league kicking dirt as the Celtics snatched up many of the top available names, inking Kevin Garnett to a three-year contract extension before free agency even opened, then reassembling the team's core. Yes, the Celtics lost Ray Allen to rival Miami -- this despite positioned to offer twice as much money with a two-year, $12 million offer -- but brought in both Jason Terry and Courtney Lee to offset the loss.
"I love what Danny's been able to do," Pierce told the team website in a video interview this week. "It was a tough decision this summer. A lot was riding on what direction we were going to head in. It was just a domino effect, once we signed Kevin, we knew were going to try to make another run at it. That's pretty much the way I looked at it. Once we signed him, a number of guys were able to jump on board.
"I thought Danny did a good job of trying to replace Ray Allen. As you know Ray Allen went off to Miami, on his choice, but he was a great teammate, it was fun playing with him. But I think the guys coming in here -- Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, trying to get a healthy Jeff Green, even some of our rookies -- I think we've added a lot more depth, and it's going to take a lot of pressure off me this upcoming season."
"Yeah, I'm definitely rooting for them," Pierce said of the Thunder. "I'm rooting for Perk and [Tony Allen]. I actually texted them before their games [Sunday]."
Pierce said his message was simple.
"I just wished them luck, [and told them to] lead their teams," said Pierce. "They got valuable experience that they can bring to their teams, so I just told them that and wished them luck."
The rundown: Doc Warned His Team | Execution Troubles | Layup Line
The Celtics can't say they didn't see this one coming. Coach Doc Rivers highlighted every key aspect before Wednesday's game, then Boston went out and flopped on each account. Just check out what Rivers said pregame:
"We couldn't script a tougher game, in a good way -- for me anyway, maybe not for the players," said Rivers. "We have to get back to protecting the paint and they're No. 1 in paint points. We have to get back in transition [defense] and I think they're seventh in the league in fastbreak points. We have to get back to dominating on the boards, and I think they're fourth in that category. You couldn't pick a better team for us to play. All the things we have to get better at, they have. It's a good test for us."
Test failed. The Grizzlies dominated points in the paint (52-26), including a 16-3 advantage on second-chance points, and finished with a healthy edge on the glass (43-37). Sure, fastbreak points were a wash (8 apiece), but that was of little solace to the Celtics.
“I am surprised because the whole emphasis of today was they are one of the best, if not the best, in the league at points in the paint," said captain Paul Pierce. "The emphasis was to pack the paint, they aren’t a great 3-point shooting team, so there is no excuse for all that. We should have done a better job in there, make them kick it out and make them knock down a couple of jumpers.
"I thought overall, we played pretty good defense. We held them to what, 90 points? Especially Zach Randolph, he has been playing out of his mind. A lot of these guys have been playing well. I thought it was a pretty strong defensive game. Turnovers really hurt us. I though we missed a lot of easy looks that we usually make right there at the basket under the rim. It’s really hard to put my finger on one thing that cost us the game. It was hard fought and could have went either way, and it went their way tonight.”
The Celtics turned the ball over 20 times leading to 16 points for Memphis, but that was essentially negated as the Grizzlies coughed up the ball up 15 times for 13 points. As Pierce suggested, Boston's defense wasn't bad beyond the paint struggles, but an offense that shot just 42 percent (29 of 69) -- including a mere 34 percent for the starters -- highlighted Boston's recent struggles to light up the scoreboard.
"It’s something you get through," Rivers said of the offensive struggles. "But we’ve got to get through it.”
BOSTON -- Tony Allen is back in Boston for the first time since bolting for Memphis as a free agent this offseason, a move that coach Doc Rivers admitted took him and the organization by surprise. Allen admitted there were some nostalgia coming back to the Garden, but said his focus was on business for a Grizzlies team fighting for a final playoff berth.
"It's where I started my career off at, you know?" said Allen. "I've been through some good times, I've been through some bad times here, but, for the most part, I'm very excited to be back here and hopefully we can get the win today."
Allen did note that it was odd coming to the arena as a visitor.
"I came in through the back way, and that was kind of like a pinch on the cheek or something, like, 'Wow, I've never been this way,'" said Allen. "I came in through the back and that's when I really knew, 'Hey, I'm not a Celtic [any] more. It's time to come out here, scrap, and fight and get a win.' But, for the most part it's special because I've got a lot of good memories here, and I'm happy to be here, so it's going to be fun today."
But Allen's departure will be thrust into the spotlight Sunday as the Celtics face the Lakers without a player that earned himself a handsome offseason payday from the Memphis Grizzlies thanks in large part to a reputation as the "Kobe Stopper."
According to ESPN Stats and Info, since the start of the 2009-10 season, including the postseason, Allen had limited Bryant to 0.69 points per possession and Bryant shot a mere 29.7 percent over a span of 45 possessions, generating a total of 31 points when the two players were matched up on each other.
In the 150 possessions when any other Celtics' defender was on Bryant, the Los Angeles' superstar averaged 0.91 points per possession, shooting 41.5 percent and generating 137 points.
Keep an eye Sunday on who the Celtics have defending Bryant, particularly when the second unit is on the floor. Boston needs to make Bryant work for his points, particularly if he's allowed to play sag-loving, roam-happy defense against Rajon Rondo at the other end of the court, preserving his energy.
The rundown (a quick look at postgame headlines)
* T.Allen carves out role amidst limiting playing time in Memphis
* What's up Doc? Rivers uncertain about J.O'Neal diagnosis
* Loose balls: Pierce missing Pacquiao; KG fine after takedown
--TA CARVES OUT ROLE AMIDST LIMITING PLAYING TIME IN MEMPHIS--
Hip-hop blared inside the Grizzlies' locker room before Saturday's game and, according to Grizzlies observers, that's something new this season. Maybe it's not surprising to find out that it's music-loving Allen whose iPod was jammed in the speaker dock at the front of the room before tip-off against the Celtics, setting the mood for Memphis' young and exuberant squad.
Two months shy of his 29th birthday, Allen is one of the elder statesmen on this Grizzlies squad. Only Zach Randolph (29) is older and has more experience (nine years). Even as he's struggled to maintain playing time, Allen is trying to bring some of the leadership he absorbed in Boston to a fledgling Memphis team.
"It's pretty different, going from a more veteran ball club to a young ball club, obviously, but I'm enjoying it," said Allen. "I'm pretty much trying to carry [the leadership from Boston] over, trying to get guys to be more focused in games, more serious in practices -- not saying they've haven't -- but just making it more of a point of emphasis."
Playing for the first time against the team he spent his first six NBA seasons with, Allen chipped in 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting with four rebounds, three assists and three steals over nearly 21 minutes of floor time as his Grizzlies forced Boston to stay late for the win.
"We definitely had an opportunity to see where we are at with a top team in the league, a team that has been around the block," said Allen. "This is a team that has their mind focused on championships and pretty much knows they are going to the playoffs. A team that knows a lot about winning basketball. It definitely was a chance to see where we are at. We competed, but the little things that we didn't do, the miscommunication on offense and mishaps on the defensive end."
In his new leadership position, it will be up to Allen to help show his new teammates how to get to that next level. It's part of what was expected of him after inking a three-year, $9.45 million deal this offseason.
Huddling with Boston reporters Saturday following Memphis' morning shootaround, Allen detailed how a hard recruitment by general manager Chris Wallace, Boston's former front-office chief who drafted Allen with the 25th overall pick in the 2004 draft, left him jumping at the choice to join the Grizzlies early in the free-agency period. His sudden departure came as a surprise in Boston and left the Celtics scrambling to add depth at the swingman spot.
"I felt wanted," said Allen. "I felt like this is where I needed to be."
Allen only shrugs and dismisses the what-if scenario when asked if a harder recruitment early in the free-agency period by Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge could have lured him back to Boston. The Celtics put a heavy focus on re-signing Paul Pierce and Ray Allen in early July, then brought in Jermaine O'Neal with the mid-level exception before turning their attention to next batch of free agents.
By that point, Allen was gone. Now he's trying to prove he's worth the investment.
Last week, Allen logged back-to-back DNPs (coach's decision) during Memphis' only wins on a four-game road trip. He entered Saturday's game averaging 5.1 points, 1.6 rebounds, and 1.4 assists over seven appearances off the bench. While Allen said he's still learning the playbook and defining his role on his new team, Memphis coach Lionel Hollins suggested Allen might see more DNPs on occasion.
“He’ll have a couple of DNPs,” Hollins said. “I think he had a couple of DNPs in Boston. Tony Allen’s a utility player who comes in and gives you some energy and gives you some defense at different times. Then there’s times when you need something else."
The Grizzlies need Allen to give them something else and he showed potential to do that against his former team.
--WHAT'S UP DOC? RIVERS UNCERTAIN ABOUT J.O'NEAL DIAGNOSIS--
Rivers said he had no update on reserve center Jermaine O'Neal, who returned home to Boston with a sore left knee, missing his second straight game as doctors try to figure out why he continues to experience flare-ups and swelling after an initial outburst following a loss last month in Cleveland.
"I’ll find out more [Sunday], I haven’t even checked, to be honest," said Rivers. "We gotta get through this game, then we’ll figure out what’s going on."
Even as the Celtics prepare to get Delonte West back as his 10-game suspension expired after Saturday's game, Rivers is resigned to the fact that his team might never e in full this season, due in large part to the injuries in the frontcourt.
"We're not going to have [a full and healthy team]," said Rivers. "Really. I went into the season thinking that, and, so far, I’ve been proven right more than I wanted to be. I just don’t see that happening with so many guys with age and we’re just going to have that [especially up front]. Our starting center has not even played yet in [Kendrick Perkins], then you've got the other two [O'Neals] who have been injured. I'm just hoping Jermaine can get back and get right. We’ll find that out. I don’t know anything yet, so we’ll find that out later."
--LOOSE BALLS: PIERCE MISSING PACQUIAO; KG FINE AFTER TAKEDOWN--
* Celtics captain Paul Pierce was kicking himself after the game. Not just for a defensive lapse that allowed Rudy Gay to tie the game (and force overtime) with 7.3 seconds to play or for failing to get off a potential winning shot at the end of regulation out of an isolation set.
"It felt like we've been on the road for a while and you get mental fatigue, especially on a Saturday night when you should be at home watching the [Manny] Pacquiao fight," said Pierce. "That's what I'm more disappointed at, this thing going to overtime. I got the fight on DVR. I'll take the blame for that: My bad defense at the end on Rudy Gay. My teammates picked me up."
Pierce, a Pacquiao supporter, can take solace in the fact that his fighter dominated Antonio Margarito over 12 rounds, earning a lopsided decision in Dallas.
* Ray Allen connected on one of his first six shots, but rebounded to hit four of his final five shots, including a trio of 3-pointers, while scoring 13 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter and overtime.
" A few shots I missed, I thought I should have made," said Allen. "By the fourth quarter, it doesn't matter what happened in the first three quarters. You have to make shots to win the game, you gotta be ready and prepared."
* Kevin Garnett said he's no worse for the wear after a hard takedown at the hands of Zach Randolph in the overtime session that saw Garnett hit the floor hard, his head appearing to hit the hardwood.
"I’m good man," said Garnett, who stayed in the game and played nearly the entire overtime session. "It's part of it. It’s part of the game."
Rivers put a lighter spin on it.
"It happens, I didn’t think he hurt himself," said Rivers. "I thought maybe he hurt his head. I was hoping Zach knocked some sense into him."
Nearly two weeks after agreeing to a three-year deal with the Grizzlies, Allen met the Memphis media Friday and hinted it was the fact that he was in the second tier of Boston's offseason concerns that might have convinced him to jump to the Grizzlies.
"Ultimately, it was the way [the Grizzlies] embraced me, the way they reached out to me and let it all out," said Allen. "They let me know I was needed. In Boston, I was kind of overshadowed by those guys -- Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Here's a ball club that's on the rise and a lot of guys can make names for themselves. It's a coming out party for a lot of guys on this team."
Allen spent his first six years with Boston, which selected him 25th overall in the 2004 draft, but really blossomed in his role as a defensive stopper off the bench last season. It was Allen's lockdown defense against the likes of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant that helped Boston come within a quarter of winning its second title in three years.
But with two of the Celtics' Big Three becoming unrestricted free agents this offseason, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge admitted that locking up both Pierce and Ray Allen -- along with signing Jermaine O'Neal to bolster Boston's frontcourt with Kendrick Perkins sidelined to start the season -- was the team's top priorities.
With those moves completed, Ainge suggested he was moving on to the next tier that included trying to re-sign both Tony Allen and Nate Robinson. But Allen stunned the team by agreeing to a three-year, $9.7 million deal with Memphis soon after.
Asked earlier this month why things didn't work out with Allen, Ainge said it was a better question for the player.
"Things did work out for Tony, we had a good six years with Tony," said Ainge. "No, I think you'd have to ask Tony that. We wanted Tony back and we tried to get him. It wasn't a financial decision."
Allen earned $2.5 million last season in Boston and seemed in line for a raise given his inspired play late in the regular season and through the playoffs. Ainge has aimed to limit the length of free-agent deals with eyes towards a roster overhaul following the 2011-12 season, leading some to speculate that the Celtics weren't willing to add a third year like the Grizzlies did, particularly for an oft-injured player like Allen.
Allen averaged 7.2 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game over his six seasons in Boston. But Allen also missed a total of 156 games, or a staggering 26 games per season, during that time. Only twice did he appear in 75 games or more in a campaign, while missing at least 28 games in each of his other four seasons.
Allen's departure did put Boston's otherwise breezy offseason on tilt. Only Thursday did the team start the process of filling the monster void at backup wing by re-signing Marquis Daniels to a one-year, $2.5 million deal. The team is hoping Daniels can shake off a lackluster 2009-10 season and help fill the defensive void left by Allen.
Meanwhile, Allen suggested Friday that he wants to build on his reputation of being a defensive stopper. He said he relishes the opportunity to be a leader on a young team and will do whatever it takes to make the Grizzlies competitive.
"I don't mind embracing the [defensive] role, but there is more to my game; let's not get that twisted," said Allen. "Whatever I can do to win ballgames -- if that's just passing out Gatorades or flashing towels or giving somebody a high-five, I'm willing to do that."
Click HERE to read more on Allen's Memphis introduction, or hop HERE watch the video of his Q&A.
At first blush, it's hard to understand why the Celtics might not have been willing to match such an offer. Maybe Boston didn't want to go that length based on Allen's injury history. Perhaps the Celtics are simply exploring other bench options and couldn't commit to Allen this early.
Regardless, it's bittersweet seeing Allen move on. Tantalizing at times but bafflingly frustrating at others, he could play stellar defense for the game's first 47 minutes, then fall for an upfake at the buzzer and cost his team a victory.
But Allen made great strides in changing his reputation this past season. He went to the altar of associate coach (and defensive guru) Tom Thibodeau and swore the only thing that mattered to him was helping the Celtics win.
True to his word, he expended almost every ounce of energy he had on the defensive end this season, allowing the offense -- once his focal point -- to come to him.
It seemed Allen had finally matured (even if he still loved screaming rap lyrics in the locker room, he at least did it while watching film and receiving treatment on his foot).
He finally got it (Allen often led the cheerleading on the sideline and was always into the game, just waiting for his opportunity to contribute on the floor).
And now he's gone.
Click HERE to read the full story.
Player: Tony Allen
2009-10 averages: 6.1 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.1 steals
2009-10 salary: $2.5 million
Season in a paragraph: After aggravating an ankle injury in his lone preseason appearance, Allen started the 2009-10 season sidelined and it appeared like more of the same from the oft-injured Allen. But after sitting out the first 20 games with the sore right ankle, Allen returned with renewed focus and dedication that was missing in year's passed. Allen's intensity was almost completely on the defensive end, though he did chip in with the occasional burst of offense during the season. Allen ultimately became the top guard off the bench.
Season highlight: May 9,2010 -- In a pivotal Game 4 against the Cavaliers, Allen not only provided some lockdown defense on LeBron James, but connected on 6-of-7 shots for 15 points as the bench aided Boston in a 97-87 triumph to even the series at two games apiece.
Season lowlight: Oct. 9, 2009 -- This isn't to say that Allen didn't endure the typical ups and downs of an NBA season, but, amazingly, his only real lowlight really came in the preseason when he aggravated his ankle injury trying to return too quickly against the New York Knicks. From there, it was mostly an upward climb, shining particularly bright in the postseason with his stellar defense against James and Kobe Bryant.
Final grade: B+
Teacher's notes: In the process of doing these report cards, it's been a bit surprising to me to see the lack of quality grades. How exactly do so many players underachieve (at least in terms of expectations) and this team still come six minutes away from a world title? Players like Allen ultimately provided a spark the team desperately needed. Allen said it best during the season when he noted that he's 100 percent behind the Ubuntu mentality now. He simply wants to help the team win and doesn't need to be an offensive superstar -- what he craved when he first came into the league -- to do that.
What's next?: An unrestricted free agent, Allen positioned himself well in a market where money is being tossed around liberally. With each bad contract, you can't help but wonder what Allen's price tag becomes. He's certainly priced himself well above the $2.5 million he made last season. The question is whether Allen, who was quite emotional after Boston's Game 7 loss to the Lakers, will take any sort of discount to return to a setting he's extremely comfortable in. Or will a Western Conference team throw gobs of money at him with his reputation for defense, particularly against Bryant?
Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.
Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on Allen's 2009-10 season? Click HERE to leave a comment.
The rundown (a quick look at practice headlines)
* Despite Posey comparisons, TA trying to be himself
* 'Sheed, Rondo participate fully at Wednesday's practice
* Loose balls: Bryant a member of the Doc Rivers Fan Club; Fun Finals?
Despite Posey comparisons, TA trying to be himself
Celtics guard Tony Allen sat on the scorer's table at the Staples Center fielding questions from reporters, most of which centered around coming off the bench to defend Kobe Bryant. When the same question kept coming time and time again, Allen politely interjected.
"They've got a great team, it's not just me versus Kobe Bryant," said Allen. "I've got to do a good job on those other guys as well, like Ron Artest. It's not just me and Kobe Bryant. I don't know where that's coming from. They've got a great core of guys and I've got to be ready for them all."
Allen was informed that many observers were simply pegging him to fill the role James Posey occupied during the 2008 Finals, helping to lock down Bryant as a defensive stopper off the bench.
"Now I see," Allen said with a sly smile. "If that’s what role they put me in, I've got to deal with it. Whatever I need to do to help my team, I'm looking forward to it."
The good news for the Celtics is that Allen pronounced himself in full health after battling the lingering effects of a twisted ankle suffered in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Magic. Allen seemed a step slow at times over the final four games of that series, but said he'll be ready to go when the Finals tip off Thursday (ABC, 9 p.m.).
"My ankle is cool, it's feeling great," said Allen. "This is the best I've felt all playoffs."
The ankle injury helped lead Celtics coach Doc Rivers to decrease Allen's playing time over the final three games of the Magic series.
But Allen, who played a shade under 20 total minutes in just three appearances during the 2008 Finals, deemed himself ready for whatever the team throws at him this year. He doesn't want to be an observer this time around. And he's certainly not living in the past.
"I've been playing all playoffs [this season], so there's no looking back to 2008," said Allen. "My whole progress right now is moving forward and helping this team win a championship."
Allen would have big shoes to fill in any such Posey-like role. According to the wizards at ESPN Stats and Information, Posey limited Bryant to 16 points on 26 plays (0.62 points per play) in which he was the primary defender during the 2008 Finals, including 2-for-6 shooting with two turnovers in 10 isolation plays.
How does Allen measure up? Over the last three seasons, including the playoffs, Bryant has produced 28 points off 32 plays (0.88 points per play) against Allen. Bryant was 10-of-25 shooting with a mere three turnovers and four trips to the charity stripe on plays during that span.
Considering Bryant averaged 1.19 points per play in the 2008 NBA Finals -- his most in a series during the last three years -- Allen's stats reflect an above-average job.
"I mean, honestly, Posey was Posey," Allen said of the comparisons. "I'm Tony Allen. And that's what you've got to deal with: Tony Allen."
'Sheed, Rondo participate fully at Wednesday's practice
Rasheed Wallace and Rajon Rondo, both of whom are nursing back injuries, participated fully in Wednesday's practice session, including contact drills, a positive sign as both ramp up for Thursday's Game 1.
Wallace, who originally tweaked his back during Game 5 against Orlando then left early in the fourth quarter of Game 6, had been held out of contact drills earlier in the week, but moved fluidly in the portion of practice open to the media Wednesday, which included stretching and shooting drills.
Rondo landed hard on a first-quarter drive to the basket in Game 6 versus the Magic, but said the time off has worked wonders.
"My body is fine," said Rondo. "These five days have definitely been great for me personally. I know it's great for the team, but for me I've been getting a lot of massages, a lot of treatment. I'm feeling better and better each day. The more time I get, the better I am. [Thursday], I'm sure I'll be back almost at 100 percent."
Elsewhere on the injury front, Marquis Daniels (concussion) said he is feeling better is still awaiting full clearance from team trainer Ed Lacerte.
"I'm feeling better, it's progressively getting better each day," said Daniels. "The break helped. I'm just waiting for Ed to give me the sign now. I'm antsy."
Daniels has seen his role decrease throughout the season, but threw his name in the hat to help defend Bryant.
"Like anyone that likes to compete, you want to go out there and play against one of the best in the game," said Daniels. "I'd like that opportunity."
Answering a query about Andrew Bynum and his injured knee, Rivers summed up injuries at this time of year.
"[Bynum's knee is a] non-factor for us; [it's a] factor for them probably," said Rivers. "We're not going to worry about whether he's healthy or not. Players tend to be healthy once the Finals start no matter what their injury status is, and you know that. We're viewing him as 100 percent and a factor in the series."
The Lakers probably consider Wallace and Rondo in that same boat.
Loose balls: Bryant a member of the Doc Rivers Fan Club; Fun Finals?
* Daniels has bonded with Nate Robinson since the trade that brought the three-time Slam Dunk champ to Boston in February. The two playfully bantered on the sideline during the media session, and Daniels expressed great satisfaction in watching Robinson play a key role in Boston's Game 6 triumph over the Magic last week.
"It was great, I was happy for him," said Daniels. "Being patient, we worked out every day together, just me and him out there sometimes. It's great to see him [on the floor], helping the team."
Robinson scored 13 points in 13 minutes to help Boston close out the Magic Friday.
* Count Bryant among the members of the Doc Rivers Fan Club.
"I love Doc, and I love his personality and the relationship that he has with his players," said Bryant. "I had a chance to spend some time with him over the All-Star break a couple years ago. He just happened to be on the same bus for a function, and I had a chance to kind of talk to him a little bit. He's just a down-to-earth guy, just extremely sharp, prepares extremely well, and I think he's the type of coach guys would love to play for."
* Asked if the NBA Finals are a "fun" experience despite the pressure of the competition, Kevin Garnett delivered a playful jab to the media.
"The competition could be labeled as fun," said Garnett, "but sitting here talking to you guys for 30 minutes, that's not necessarily fun."
Garnett was part of a handful of Celtics who stood at podiums to answer questions for the half-hour session. The others: Ray Allen, Glen Davis, and Kendrick Perkins. Other players were scattered about the floor taking questions from smaller groups of reporters.
The always amazing MrTrpleDouble10, here's footage from the ESPN broadcast of Game 2 that shows Tony Allen turning his ankle when he steps on the foot of Rajon Rondo trying to anticipate a pass to Jameer Nelson on the wing (watch around 18 seconds into the video). Allen gets up hobbling as the Magic keep the ball alive in their end, but ends up generating a floater in the lane before the end of the quarter.
Click HERE for more on Allen's injury. Allen played 12 minutes in Game 4, registering two points, two assists, and four fouls.
Allen missed the first 20 games of the 2009-10 season with a sore right ankle after rushing himself back from offseason ankle surgery and aggravating the injury during the only preseason game he appeared in. Despite little expectations given his injuries woes in six seasons in Boston, Allen soon emerged as Boston's most reliable bench player, providing consistent defense and the occasional offensive spark.
Allen slowed his pregame workout before Game 2 in Orlando numerous times and appeared to be grimacing while grabbing at his right foot. Allen played only 15 minutes that night, his shortest outing since May 1.
Rivers noted the injury was so worrisome that the Celtics actually used Nate Robinson as the backup point guard for much of the three-day break between Games 2 and 3 because the team was uncertain if Allen could go Saturday night.
Allen played 18 minutes in Game 3, making the only shot he attempted, while registering four points, two assists, a steal, and a rebound. His deflection set into motion Rajon Rondo's spectacular hustle play that fueled the Celtics to a lopsided win and a 3-0 series lead.
Rivers continues to stress that bench players like Robinson can be thrust into action at any time and implores them to be ready.
"Our bench has been huge," said Rivers, who has leaned heavy on Allen, Glen Davis, and Rasheed Wallace, while using Michael Finley to limit minutes at the guard spots. "Clearly we shortened our bench, but, when they're in there, they've done a great job. We were able to throw Shelden [Williams] in one game and he was terrific. We just harp on everyone about being ready. You never know with foul trouble or injuries. I tell Marquis [Daniels] and Nate [Robinson] everyday, there's going to be a point at some point in the playoffs that they're going to make contributions. They have to stay ready and our bench has that attitude."
Robinson played six minutes five fourth-quarter minutes in Game 3. He's appeared in only six playoff games so far, but failed to provide a spark when Rivers injected him to do such at times against Miami and Cleveland.
Allen ices his foot after each game and often receives treatment before every contest, but hasn't missed a game due to the ankle since the start of the season.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Friday that Rondo would play Saturday and the point guard's presence at the shootaorund is an encouraging sign that there were no setbacks overnight. Rondo's energy level and how many minutes he'll be able to log are likely to be dictated by his condition at game time.
Rivers indicated that Rondo was "throwing up and everything else" Friday and the team sent him home from the session after he attended film study and a walkthrough. The flu has been spreading recently in the Celtics' locker room, starting with Tony Allen, who missed the final two games of the regular season, and continuing with Rondo and Glen Davis.
Allen practiced with the first team in Rondo's absence Friday and would be the likely starter if Rondo could not go. Allen deemed himself in better shape than previous days, and said he'd be ready for action Saturday.
"I’m readying myself to play as much as possible," said Allen. "This is the playoffs, anything can happen."
(Update: Rondo talked with the Boston Globe's Julian Benbow after this morning's shootaround and confirmed he's playing. "[My energy's] going to be different from tonight," said Rondo. "I still can't hardly breath much. But it'll be alright. I haven't vomited lately.")
Garnett departed with 3:36 to play in the first quarter and returned -- a bandage over his eye -- with 5:37 to play in the second frame. He scored a team-high eight points in the first half.
The Celtics went with their normal starting lineup Tuesday, but were shorthanded as Tony Allen sat out as he continues to battle the flu.
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