Despite ankle injury, Allen far from irrelevant for Celtics


Despite ankle injury, Allen far from irrelevant for Celtics

PHILADELPHIA The video doesn't lie.

Ray Allen runs from one baseline to another, using screens like he always has, to get open.

He finally gets to the spot on the floor he's searching for.

But there's a problem.

Whoever the Sixers have guarding him, is right there as well.

The ankle issues that have plagued Allen this season, have him running a step slower than he used to, which in turn has made him easier to defend.

"It's simple," Rivers said. "All you have to do is watch the game. He can't get away. Ray and (Indiana Pacers great) Reggie Miller, even Reggie when he was 38, spaced himself on the floor with his movement. Right now, when you watch it, the guy is standing right next to him."

Even though Allen can't get free like he or the Celtics are used to, there's no mistaking the positive impact he has on the Celtics most of the time he's on the floor.

"That's one of the things we keep showing Ray, to keep his spirits up," Rivers said. "No, you're not getting shots. You can't get away from guys right now."

But when you look back at Brandon Bass' career-high 27 points in Boston's Game 5 win, Allen's presence was indeed a factor in Bass' breakout game.

In a conversation with Allen, Rivers told him, "Brandon got a bunch of lay-ups, because you were on the same side that he was rolling. They're not going to leave you.'"

Rivers added, "the one thing he can still do, he can make an open shot."

But getting those open shots, at this point, remains a challenge especially against a Sixers defense that has emphasized trying to take Allen as much out of the offense as possible.

Allen didn't help matters when he suffered a rolled ankle injury in Game 5, an injury he says won't keep him out of tonight's game.

"It feels good now," Allen said. "I don't have any issues with it now. I'm glad I took myself out when I did. At least that gave it a chance to calm down."

Now Allen's focus is on doing what he can to help the Celtics squeeze out one more win over Philadelphia and with that, advance to the Conference Finals for the third time during the Big Three era.

The pressure of a close-out game is evident.

But Allen, much like a defender flying at him on a 3-point attempt, isn't too phased by the moment.

"It's like anything else, when you put so much pressure on yourself to succeed . . . my approach is to go into it and pay attention to the small details," Allen said. "Hopefully it'll take care of itself."

Allen will certainly have an opportunity to make an immediate impact now that he's back in the starting lineup with Avery Bradley (shoulders) sidelined indefinitely.

The bulk of Allen's career has been as a starter, so the idea of re-joining the first unit isn't one that takes much getting used to on his part.

"There's never an adjustment because you know exactly how to play the game," Allen said. "You know when to shoot, when not to shoot. I know who's on the floor and what they're capable of and how I need to be effective."

WATCH: Celtics vs. Mavericks


WATCH: Celtics vs. Mavericks

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Mavericks in Dallas. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

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Celtics-Mavericks preview: C's need to play Smart vs. Dallas

Celtics-Mavericks preview: C's need to play Smart vs. Dallas

Get it done. No excuses.
That has been how the Boston Celtics have played most of this season.
And if there’s one Celtics player who embodies that on this team, it’s Marcus Smart.
The fourth-year guard has struggled all season with his shot-making, but when the game is on the line in the fourth quarter you can count on Smart to be on the floor.


He has been among the many reasons Boston has won 15 in a row, which is the fifth-longest winning streak in franchise history.
And Smart will be among the Celtics looking to keep it going tonight against the Dallas Mavericks.
Most likely, Smart will make an impact with his defense, which is among the best in the NBA.

How good?
Smart has a defensive rating of 93.4 (points allowed per 100 possessions) which is tops among all guards in the NBA, and ranks third among all players who have played in at least 10 games this season.
But in the 110-99 win over the Hawks, Smart knocked down a couple of 3-pointers which was a big deal considering how mightily he has struggled shooting the ball this season.
Smart is shooting 27.3 percent from the field as well as from 3-point range – both career lows.
However, he’s also averaging career highs in assists (4.5) and rebounds (5.1) this season.
And while he certainly doesn’t appear to be affected by the shooting struggles, he acknowledges that it is something that he can’t help but think about from time to time.
“It does affect you, especially if you’ve been working (on shooting) all summer,” Smart said. “At the same time, I don’t take as many shots. But like I said, we got other guys who are playing well. My job is to get them the ball and do whatever I can, go back down the floor, play defense and get the ball again.”

In Boston’s win over Atlanta, Smart spent a good amount of time defending Marco Belinelli who had four points on 2-for-10 shooting compared to 19 points on 6-for-10 shooting when these two teams met earlier this month.
Coach Brad Stevens pointed to the job Smart did on Belinelli, in addition to the clutch offensive rebound he was able to snag and quickly put back up and in that gave Boston a 103-95 game with about two minutes to play.
“He was really good,” Stevens said.
The same could be said for most of the Celtics of late.
Kyrie Irving is coming off his most efficient game of the season, tallying 30 points on 10-for-12 shooting from the field. Jayson Tatum had a rough start, but he came on strong as well with 14 points – all coming in the second half.
But the backbone of Boston’s success lies in what they’re able to get done defensively.
So far, Boston’s defense has been as strong as we’ve seen this early, in quite some time.
Boston, which has a league-best defensive rating of 95.9, has length, savvy and an overall total buy-in by the players on what Brad Stevens is looking for, from them.
Meanwhile, the Mavericks (3-14) are coming off their most impressive victory this season, a 111-79 win over Milwaukee.  Dennis Smith Jr. has been among the more talented rookies this season. He’s averaging 14.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. Dallas is indeed in a transition period where longtime superstar Dirk Nowitzki (10.3 points, 5.5 rebounds per game) is gradually passing the torch to his younger teammates like Harrison Barnes (18.7 points, 7.1 rebounds) and Smith Jr.
Much like the Hawks game, the Celtics must approach this game with a focus on the opponent and not their record.
Because the Celtics are no longer just a good team on the schedule. They are a measuring stick for most to see how they stack up against the league’s best.
And the Celtics understand how their success has changed how teams see them.
“Now that we have a reputation, I think everyone is coming for us,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “Now we have to come play even harder, and I think we can do that. I think we are more than capable.”