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.