Allen still up to his old tricks in Heat uniform

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Allen still up to his old tricks in Heat uniform

MIAMI As much as Tuesday night's Boston-Miami game was about the Heat getting their championship bling for what they accomplished last season, it was just as much a coming out party of sorts for former Celtic Ray Allen with his new team.

Allen didn't disappoint his new fans in helping Miami kick off the new season with a 120-107 victory over the Celtics.

In a role similar to the one he had near the end of the season in Boston - coming off the bench - Allen had 19 points on Tuesday which included a handful of shot clock buzzer-beaters - a Ray Allen staple.

While the Heat certainly love what Ray can do as a player, the focus for many was on how Allen would interact with his former team; specifically Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo.

When Allen entered the game in the first quarter, Ray Allen made his way towards the Celtics bench - his first interaction with his former team since signing with the Miami Heat.

After a brief embrace with Doc Rivers and the C's assistant coaches, Allen tapped Garnett's shoulder - he was on the bench resting at that point - to which Garnett did not reply or even acknowledge the contact.

"You guys know KG. Did you expect him to react?" Allen told a large crowd after the game that included Boston-area media. "I don't take anything from it. Kevin is, he's an intense competitor. On the bench, he's in a different world, a different zone. The five years I played with him, you have to respect that."

Said Garnett: "Understand I am an intense person. Other than that, I drew a blank. I just saw the Heat (jersey) in front of him. Obviously he's on the other side. I just try to play the game, man."

And apparently so does Allen, who hurt the C's with many of the same big shots that he helped them win with during the past five seasons.

His first shot, as if it was part of a Hollywood script, was a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the corner.

Allen would go on to hit a couple more buzzer-beaters for good measure.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was not only impressed with Allen's play, but even more so the poise he displayed in what was clearly an uncomfortable position to be in at the start of the season.

"I'm sure it had to be very emotional for him in terms of a lot of things that he was feeling," Spoelstra said. "We wanted to win this game for a lot of different reasons. We wanted to do it because it was ceremony night, but we talked about it, when we acquire new players they inherit everything that we've experienced, but we inherit also whatever they've experienced and we wanted to win for our brother."

But as much as Allen is at peace with his decision to be part of the Heat family, he at times found himself forgetting that he's no longer a Celtic.

"It was very strange," Allen said. "A couple times I would see somebody running down the floor, and I had to ask myself, 'who was I guarding? Which team was I guarding?' Because I'm looking at both jerseys and my inclination was to guard the Miami jersey but I caught myself."

Well, he caught himself most of the game.

"I think one time I gave Brandon Bass dap one time he was running down the floor. I had to catch myself," Allen said. "My brain right now has to be switched over."

Rivers was among the many Celtics to praise Allen for a solid performance.

"Ray was terrific," Rivers said. "He went (to his) right all game and we allowed him to, but he made a lot of shots."

Said Bass: "It was good seeing Ray. Ray Allen was a great player here (in Boston) and a great guy in the locker room.

That said, Bass added, "we wanted to beat him, but it didn't happen."

Rivers was surprised Allen was open from the corner the first time he checked into the game, of which Allen made them pay.
 
"You would think we would know better," Rivers said.

Allen knocking down shots is not a surprise.

That's kind of what you come to expect from a player who has made more three-pointers than anyone in NBA history, and has established himself as a virtual lock for the NBA Hall of Fame if Father Time ever catches up to him.

The unknown heading into the game had to deal with Allen's interactions with his old teammates.

"Regardless of how they feel, I have nothing but great things, warm sentiments going in their direction," Allen said. "You could be angry at me, but that's not going to change how I feel about you."

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

BOSTON – Prior to Saturday’s game, Terry Rozier talked to CSNNE.com about the importance of staying ready always, because “you never know when your name or number is going to be called.”

Like when trailing by three points in the fourth quarter with less than 10 seconds to play?

Yes, Rozier was on the floor in that scenario and the second-year guard delivered when his team needed it.

But Rozier’s fourth quarter heroics which forced overtime against Portland, did not provide that much-needed jolt that Boston needed as the Blazers managed to fend off the Celtics in overtime, 127-123.

For Rozier’s part, he had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting.

The 15 points scored for Rozier was the most for him since he tallied 16 in a 30-point Celtics win at Orlando on Dec. 7.

But more than the points, the decision by head coach Brad Stevens to draw up a play for him in that moment, a time when most of what Boston does revolves around the shooting of Isaiah Thomas who has been among the top-3 scorers in the fourth quarter most of this season, was surprising to many.

And at that point in the game, Thomas already had 13 fourth-quarter points.

Stevens confirmed after the game that the last shot in the fourth was indeed for Rozier, but Thomas’ presence on the floor was important to its execution.

“He (Thomas) also draws a lot of attention,” Stevens said. “So I think you just weigh kind of … what kind of shot you’re going to get, depending on who it is.”

Rozier had initially screened for Thomas, and Thomas came back and screened for him.

“I was open as soon as I caught … and I let it fly,” Rozier said. “Coach drew up a play for me and it felt good to see the ball go in.”

Being on the floor at that time, win or lose, was a victory of sorts for Rozier.

He has seen first-hand how quickly the tide can change in the NBA for a young player.

After a strong summer league showing and a solid training camp, Rozier had earned himself a firm spot in the team’s regular rotation.

But a series of not-so-great games coupled with Gerald Green’s breakout night on Christmas Day, led to his playing time since then becoming more sporadic.

Rozier, in an interview with CSNNE.com, acknowledged it hasn’t been easy going from playing regular minutes to not being sure how much court time, if any, he would receive.

But he says the veterans on the team have been good about keeping his spirits up, and one in particular – Avery Bradley – has been especially helpful.

Like Rozier, Bradley’s first couple of years saw his playing time go from non-existent to inconsistent. But Bradley stayed the course and listened to the team’s veterans who continued to tell him that his hard work would pay off sooner or later.

Those same words of wisdom Bradley received in his early days, he passes on to Rozier.

“It’s big,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “He (Bradley) tells me things like that. I felt I was ready for this (inconsistent minutes) after all that he told me. It’s big to have a guy like him that has been through it all with a championship team, been around this organization for a while; have him talk to you is big. It’s always good. That’s why I stay positive, and be ready.”

Which is part of the reason why Stevens didn’t hesitate to call up a play for the second-year guard despite him being a 33.3 percent shooter from 3-point range this season – that ranks eighth on this team, mind you.

“He’s a really good shooter,” Stevens said of Rozier. “I think with more opportunity that will show itself true, but he made some big ones in the fourth quarter. We went to him a few different times out of time-outs, and felt good about him making that one.”

And to know that Stevens will turn to him not just to spell Thomas or one of the team’s other guards, but to actually make a game-altering play in the final seconds … that’s major.

“It helps tremendously,” said Rozier who added that his confidence is through “the roof. It makes me want to do everything. You know defense, all of that. It’s great, especially to have a guy like Brad trust you."

Stars, studs and duds: Lillard steps up in second half, overtime

Stars, studs and duds: Lillard steps up in second half, overtime

BOSTON – Saturday was yet another night when the opposing team – this time it was the Portland Trail Blazers – that up the Boston Celtics with an avalanche of points that ended in a 127-123 overtime loss.

And yet through the rubble of all those lay-ups and put-back baskets and mid-range jumpers, Stevens saw something he has not seen in a while – hope that better days defensively were coming sooner rather than later.

“As crazy as it sounds with them scoring (127) … I actually thought we were a lot closer to defending the way we want to defend," said Stevens. "I thought we were really locked into those guards, and I thought we tried to make it as tough as possible. Those guys are really good players, obviously, but I thought, I thought we did a lot of good things in that regard.”

For the most part, Boston and Portland played a relatively even game that wasn’t decided until the final minute of overtime.

“They just made more plays down the stretch,” said Boston’s Al Horford.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Saturday’s game.

 

STARS

C.J. McCollum

He tends to get second billing to Damian Lillard, but he was a first rate problem for the Celtics. He led the Blazers with 35 points on 11-for-21 shooting.

Damian Lillard

After a foul-troubled first half, Lillard stepped up like the All-Star he is in the second half to finish with 28 points and seven assists which included seven of Portland’s 14 points in overtime.

Isaiah Thomas

It was another dynamic scoring night for Thomas, finishing with a game-high 41 points which included 21 in the fourth quarter and overtime.


STUDS

Terry Rozier

Making the most of his chance to play due to injuries and illnesses, Rozier came up with a number of big shots all night. He finished with 15 points which included a 3-pointer with 8.4 seconds in the fourth that forced overtime.

Mason Plumlee

In addition to doing a solid job protecting the rim, Plumlee also tallied a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds while dishing out a game-high eight assists.

Meyers Leonard

Easily the big X-factor of the game, Leonard had 17 points off the bench on 6-for-7 shooting.

 

DUDS

Celtics Turnovers

This is the one area where the Celtics have been really good all season. Saturday? Not so much. Boston turned the ball over a season-high 21 times which accounted for 34 points for the Blazers.