Not a Good Night to Recover Gently from Heart Trouble
After a second straight playoff game that came down to the final possession, Celtics coach Doc Rivers opened his post-game comments Monday night with this: "I just pray that Danny Ainge didn't watch this game."
Rivers was making reference to the mild heart attack the Celtics' president of basketball operations suffered last week and to the peripatetic game against the upstart Chicago Bulls.
Garnett did not work out Monday morning with the team and walked with a limp. The team continues to publicly insist that Garnett is done for the season, but one team source admits there is hope he could return deep in the playoffs. "Is it probable? No. But when you're talking about Kevin Garnett, anything is possible."
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Had Ainge sneaked a peek at the game, he would have witnessed the return of Ray Allen.
After an abysmal six points in the first six quarters of the series, Allen went from goat to hero, hitting the winning 3-pointer.
Rivers said he told his team at halftime that he needed just one volunteer, one person to step up and score, and that he couldn't be more pleased that it turned out to be Allen.
"I'm just so happy for Ray," Rivers said after the Celtics' gritty victory in Game 2 tied the series as it now heads to Chicago. "He struggled in Game 1. He struggled in the first half. But good shooters keep shooting, and it paid off."
The Celtics made a calculated effort to get Allen going in the second half. He had managed just two points by intermission and went off for 28 more in the second half. When asked how he was able to turn it around, Allen said, "I would have to say it was Paul Pierce. Paul made a concerted effort; every time he got the ball, he'd yell, 'Go get Ray, Go get Ray.'"
Prior to the game, Rivers seemed prescient when talking about Allen's Game 1 performance and any possible carryover effect. Rivers pointed to the fact that Allen was among the most consistent producers for the Celtics during the regular season. "He didn't lose it overnight," Rivers said. "Ray Allen is the least of my concerns."
One other bit of news that might be worth keeping from Ainge: Leon Powe, already suffering from a sprain to his right knee, injured the other knee in the first half and went to Massachusetts General Hospital for an MRI. After the game, Rivers could only offer that "it does not look good."