Allen still a defensive minded player

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Allen still a defensive minded player

BOSTON -- On Sunday afternoon Tony Allen returned to the TD Garden, the place where he established himself as one of the NBAs toughest defenders during six years with the Boston Celtics. While the Memphis Grizzlies guard was a late scratch (hip, knee) from the match up against the former team, he discussed how he made gritty D the cornerstone of his game ever since his time with the Cs.

When I was over here, that was the only way that I could get on the court, Allen told CSNNE.com prior to the Celtics 98-80 win. I couldnt come out here and jack up 20 shots knowing Paul Pierce is alongside of me. So I had to do what Paul Pierce wasnt doing -- he wasnt defending as well as I was, he wasnt diving for the 5050 loose balls as well I was, he wasnt hitting the offensive glass as hard as I was. Doc saw that and I was able to get on the court.

Allen was utilized as a defensive-stopper on the Celtics and was critical in several postseason battles, including the 2008 championship run. Since joining the Grizzlies last season, he has thrived in his increased role in the young teams rotation. This season Allen ranks 12th in the league in steals (1.8 per game) .

He just keeps getting better and better, Doc Rivers said following practice on Saturday. Hes playing more minutes, number one, which helps, that he didnt play behind Ray (Allen) and Paul. That helps. But hes just grown up. His defense hasnt changed, its just gotten the notice that it should have gotten when he was here.

Hes a dominant defensive player, hes not a good defensive player. Hes an absolutely dominant player at a position that is very tough to be dominant at with the way the rules are now. You cant touch, you cant breathe on anybody at the guard spots, yet Tony still is effective at guarding people, and thats rare in our league right now.

Allen is sticking to his routine of studying game tape to learn his opponents tendencies. He credits the Grizzlies video editor for compiling DVDs which he takes home to scout his upcoming competition and anticipate their plan of attack.

Now in this eighth season, it is a commitment he has made to the future of his career.

Im a birth from (former Oklahoma State head coach) Eddie Sutton and Ive been groomed through Doc Rivers, so those are defensive-minded guys, he said. Its instilled in me and Im going to carry it with me until the world blows up.

Blakely: This could be the start of something big for Celtics

Blakely: This could be the start of something big for Celtics

BOSTON -- Prior to this year, the Celtics hadn't been to the Eastern Conference finals since 2012. That trip served as a curtain call of sorts for the last great C's dynasty.
 
But this one, which ended with Cleveland's emphatic 135-102 Game 5 victory Thursday at TD Garden, is very different.
 
Rather than closing another chapter in the Celtics' longstanding legacy of greatness, it could serve as the beginning of a new narrative in the franchise's steady growth.
 
"For us to be in the Eastern Conference finals after the first year of this team really being together, adding additions like Al Horford and Gerald Green . . . I can go down the list of guys that we needed to learn to play with, and for us to talk about where we wanted to be and actually make it, it's a big-time accomplishment," said Avery Bradley.
 
Boston has been among the younger teams in the NBA, with the 31-year-old Green being the oldest player on the roster.
 
But what the Celtics lacked in experience, they made up for with great effort.
 
"The great thing about this is the experience," Bradley said. "We were able to go to the Eastern Conference finals, learned a lot about being in this position, and I feel like it's going to help us for next year."
 
But as we all know, the Celtics will look to strengthen themsevles this offseason, which means there's a very good chance they'll have a different look when they gather again in the fall.
 
How different is anyone's guess.
 
"It's difficult every year whenever you don't have guys back," said coach Brad Stevens. "I think you share a bond (over the course of a season)."
 
Stevens and this group have been together for eight months. Eight months of struggles, successes, frustrating defeats and euphoric victories that brought them to the conference finals, which is where their season came to an end.
 
But as disappointed as the players and coaches are inow, there's definite excitement about this franchise in the very near future.
 
Boston has the No. 1 overall pick in next month's draft, with all indications -- for now -- pointing to Washington's Markelle Fultz as their choice.
 
And their top first-round pick from a year ago, Jaylen Brown, seemed to steadily improve as the season progressed. It was one of the few times in his life where minutes weren't just handed to him, which he admits was a learning experience unlike anything he had ever had, yet he adjusted and played better as the year went along.

"I've had ups, I've had downs, I've had opportunities, I've had mistakes," said Brown. "So I've been learning and growing and improving all year and I'm going to continue growing and improving and prove people wrong, prove doubters wrong."
 
Having the season end the way it did has indeed left a bad taste in the mouths of many Celtics.
 
"I can use it as fuel," Brown said, adding: "I want to get back to the same place I'm at now."
 
Bradley, who was on the 2012 team that lost to the Miami Heat in the conference finals, knows the Celtics are going to do whatever they feel is necessary to give them the best chance at competing for a title.
 
"It's out of our control as players," Bradley said. "We had a great year together. If guys are here, if guys aren't, we all wish the best for each other.

"But I do feel this is a special group. We all gave our heart every single night, played as hard as we could. I respect all my teammates, and I really appreciated playing with all the guys I had a chance to play with this year; a special group."