Celtics

Tony Allen helps to beat his former team

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Tony Allen helps to beat his former team

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Tony Allen tossed up a couple of air balls. He was out of position defensively at times. He made a tough shot around the basket, and finished off a steal with a layup. He bit on a head-fake.

It was vintage Allen at his finest and most frustrating -- all wrapped up into one game.

Unfortunately for the Celtics, their ex-teammate played well enough for the Grizzlies to escape Boston with a 90-87 win.

Allen, starting in place of former UConn star Rudy Gay, who is expected to miss the rest of the season and the playoffs, had eight points and seven rebounds.

Players often talk about their first game back against a former team as being just another game.

Allen wasn't going to go there.

As he made his way to the arena Wednesday afternoon, it finally sunk in that he was back in Boston as the enemy.

So when the final horn sounded and the Grizzlies had the victory, there was no masking his excitement and jubilation.

"I can't sit here and say I didn't want to win, this one felt a little different," Allen said. "I wanted to win this one more than anything."

While Allen's play as a Celtic often ran the gamut from maddening to marvelous, the Celtics were still confident -- too confident, actually -- that he would re-sign when he became a free agent last summer.

"I did think he was coming back," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "I was surprised that he didn't. Obviously the negotiations got in the way, and that's why he didn't come back."

Rivers added, "in my mind, we probably assumed he would re-sign . . . and then you lose him."

With his new role, the 29-year-old Allen finds himself being called upon to be more of a leader.

And when he thinks about what he has to do in order to handle that job effectively, he quickly falls back on his days with the Celtics when he would see the leadership of the team's Big Three on a daily basis.

"I'm more vocal in Memphis, as if I was Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce," Allen said. "They were the most vocal guys here. I kind of just looked at what they were doing. They were the realest. If something was going wrong in a game, and they'd speak on it and don't let it get out of hand. That's pretty much what I do with our guys."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Blakely's takeaways: C's put entire league on notice

Blakely's takeaways: C's put entire league on notice

BOSTON – You had to figure Golden State’s explosive offense would probably come up a little short scoring-wise against the Boston Celtics and their top-rated defense. 

But for them to score 88 points – that’s about 32 below their average – was very one of those, “where the hell did that come from?” moments. 

And it was exactly what the Celtics needed to escape with a 92-88 win that extended their winning streak to 14 in a row but maybe most important, put the entire league on notice that this streak they’re on right now … it’s real. 

“They wrote us off coming in, saying Golden State was gonna beat us, and do this and do that,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “We came out and played basketball. Even though we got down, the make-up of our team is staying in; we’re resilient.”

Here are five takeaways from Boston’s signature win of the season, 92-88 over Golden State which extended Boston’s winning streak to 14 straight. 

 

BROWN’S GROWTH

Jaylen Brown was playing with a heavy heart less than 24 hours after the death of his best friend. But as we’ve seen in this still-young season, Brown is very much one of the league’s emerging talents. He certainly played that role on Thursday in leading Boston with 22 points with seven rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots.  

 

TALE OF TWO HALVES FOR TATUM

There’s something about the second half of games against elite players that brings out the best in Jayson Tatum. When Boston opened the season at Cleveland, Tatum was noticeably better in the second half than the first. And in Thursday’s win over Golden State, it was more of the same. In the first half he had just two points only to finish with a 10-point second half (7 coming in the fourth) for a 12-point game on 2-for-5 shooting. 

 

AL HORFORD

As well as he’s played, a strong case can be made for Horford being a league MVP instead of their leading scorer, Kyrie Irving. Horford tallied a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds to go with a pair of assists. Horford now has six double-doubles this season which equals his double-double total from all of last season. 

 

MARCUS SMART

As much as you know Smart makes great effort plays consistently and does indeed make a difference when he’s on the court, his shooting woes are reaching critical mass even as Boston continues to gobble up wins. In the last five games, Smart has averaged 7.6 points. That’s not too bad, right? But then you look and see that he’s shooting 19.2 percent (10-for-52) in that span. Ouch! So far, the Celtics have been able to find success despite his shooting struggles. But you have to anticipate at some point it’ll catch up with them. 

 

SHORTENED ROTATION

For most of this season, pretty much everyone who suits up for the Celtics, have played. But against the Warriors, it had the feel of a playoff-like rotation with head coach Brad Stevens playing 10 guys with nine reaching double digits in minutes played. Considering how the second unit struggled to make shots (they missed 17 of their 19 shot attempts), it’s understandable why head coach Brad Stevens leaned a little heavier than usual on his second unit.