Allen bides time, hits shots when it counts

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Allen bides time, hits shots when it counts

ATLANTA One half, Ray Allen can't get a shot off.

The next?

He can't miss.

Throughout most of this season, Allen has had plenty of those up-and-down, see-saw like games; too many to count, actually.

Well you can add one more to the list, as Allen's second half scoring spree catapulted the Celtics to a 79-76 win over Atlanta.

Allen finished with a team-high 19 points, 17 of which came in the second half.

"Sometimes it can get frustrating; I know how they're guarding me," Allen said. "If Paul (Pierce) has it going, Kevin (Garnett) has it going, for me, I'm just biding with the game and trying to flow into the course of how it's going to change. It's definitely different from how it has been over the course of my time here."

But as Allen has proven throughout his time in Boston, he doesn't need a lot of time or touches offensively, to make his mark on the game.

"It's just biding your time, and keeping your head in the game," he said.

And more often than not, Allen is rewarded for his patience with an opportunity to deliver a clutch shot in the C's greatest moments of need.

That time didn't arrive until near the end of the third quarter, and the Celtics trailing 51-47 at the time with 1.2 seconds remaining. With the chances of scoring with so little time unlikely, Boston was facing the possibility of going into the fourth quarter with their largest deficit to end a quarter, all game.

But Allen soon changed that, drilling a 3-pointer as time expired to cut Atlanta's lead down to just a single point.

"That's one of those plays that gave us great momentum, just from the standpoint of how we've been not so good at closing out quarters," Allen said. "To be able to score we know what we wanted based on how they were guarding us. Rondo read it, and I was ready. It was almost like I expected him to throw it to me."

Always ready.

It has become a staple of who Ray Allen is now, and for that matter, has always been as a player.

But he's the first to admit that it can be challenging to have a ton of shots one half, and very few in another.

"I've scored a lot of points and had great difficulties with losing a lot of games," Allen said. "But just trying to, kind of find my way and find how I can help this team better, it has been difficult."

Curran: Patriots are likely to finish unbeaten this season

Curran: Patriots are likely to finish unbeaten this season

FOXBORO -- Resistance is futile. 

You see this team out there scampering around from drill to drill on a cloudy, late-July day, not a lollygagger to be seen, everything moving with military precision, and you know what it looks like? 

It looks like 80-something players and a coaching staff starting NFL training camp. 

What is it really? It's the first day of work for the NFL's greatest dynasty as it embarks on what will likely be a historic campaign. 

Never mind "may." Never mind "has a chance." It is LIKELY the Patriots will be the first team to ever win 19 games in a single NFL season. 

They don't want to hear that and are already dousing the thought of perfection by labeling it stupid, ridiculous, or disrespectful.

Between now and the start of the season, a parade of indignant former players, coaches and executives will snort and chortle at how absurd the conversation is. 

Frankly, they don't know what the hell they're talking about. 

That won't stop all of them from scoffing at the prospect of 19-0 the same way Curtis Strange scoffed at Tiger Woods back in 1996 when Woods said coming in "second sucks and third is worse." You'll learn, Strange said. 

Strange learned. Everybody learned. Maybe the experts should have seen it coming with Tiger. Maybe not. 

But with the 2017 Patriots, a failing to see what's likely to happen means willfully ignoring facts to do it. The Patriots went 17-2 last year. They lost to Buffalo because their third-string quarterback's thumb was dangling. They lost to Seattle on a night they handed the ball to the Seahawks repeatedly and still were at the Seattle 1-yard line with 30 seconds left with a chance to send the game to overtime but came away with nothing. 
 
They played poorly in the AFC Divisional Playoff against Houston and won by 18. They played "meh" against the Steelers in the AFC Championship and led 33-9 after three quarters. (Don't "But Le'Veon Bell" me. Would Le'Veon Bell have been covering Chris Hogan? No? Okay. Pay attention). 

In the Super Bowl, they spotted Atlanta -- a team being favorably compared to the Greatest Show on Turf Rams -- 25 points, and they wiped out that 25-point deficit in 23 minutes of play. 

Since they walked off the field in Houston, they added a Pro Bowl corner named Stephon Gilmore to play opposite their other Pro Bowl corner, Malcolm Butler. They added a wide receiver named Brandin Cooks, who caught 162 passes the past two seasons for 2,311 yards and 17 touchdowns. And they will also unveil once again the best tight end of his generation, Rob Gronkowski. 

They have a head coach who is definitely the best of the free agency era, probably the best of the Super Bowl era and arguably the best of all time. Their quarterback has even fewer qualifiers around his greatness and legacy. 

The crème de la crème of the rest of the league is sludge. Smug Aaron Rodgers is tethered to the moon-faced buffoon in Green Bay, Mike McCarthy, a head coach who could overcomplicate ordering coffee. In Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger is fat and fresh off an offseason spent contemplating retirement and Ring Dings. The Cowboys' maturity issues start with their 70-something owner and cascade right down to their enabled superstars Ezekiel Elliott and Dez Bryant. Denver? Trevor Simien. Atlanta? Their motto this year is "Embrace the Suck." What does that even mean? That they enjoyed the Red Wedding that was the second half of the Super Bowl so much, they just want to roll around in humiliation for another year? Dear God. 

My point with all that is that there is no Peyton Manning out there to be the Frazier to Brady's Ali. And while there may be a coach out there with gray matter who could battle Belichick, that coach hasn't spent 18 seasons collecting assistants and coordinators and creating a program where they can tell a player to shit in the corner and the player asks, "What color?"

Don't fight it. Don't scoff at it. Don't be like those people who, in 2001 and 2002 were still saying Tom Brady was a product of the system and that the Patriots would rue the day they traded Drew Bledsoe within the division. Open your eyes. Think critically. What do you see.