Allen back in lineup tonight vs. Knicks

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Allen back in lineup tonight vs. Knicks

NEW YORK The Celtics are about as whole as they'll ever be with Ray Allen returning to the lineup tonight against the New York Knicks.

Allen has missed the last four games with swelling in his right ankle, the same injury that sidelined him for six games earlier this season.

While Allen was out, head coach Doc Rivers said on more than one occasion that if it were a playoff game, Allen likely would have been able to play.

"There were times when I thought that," Allen said. "And probably still give it a go. But there were days when I just couldn't (play) just based on the lack of mobility and the swelling that I had in it."

He added, "It sounds good to say I would have went, because I would have tried to go. Just with what I would have been able to do, it wouldn't have been smart if I went."

The fact that he re-injured the ankle twice in a short period of time, and given his history of ankle surgeries, questions were raised as to whether he was dealing with an injury more serious than ankle swelling.

However, Allen said MRI results showed no structural damage.

The injury taking longer to heal, he said, was more of a function of him playing on it longer than he should have in addition to trying to come back too soon.

"It just never had a chance to heal," Allen said. "Once I turned it twice within two games, I was just on it. The way I run, going up and down, I just never gave it a chance to go away (the swelling). I want to play and I want to test my body, but certain times you just have to give it a chance (to heal)."

While Allen's return is certainly welcomed, there's no guarantee that a game or two from now he won't have to deal with the same injury.

However, having the long layoff provides a much better chance that the swelling in the ankle won't be an issue anytime soon.

"I was making sure I took every precaution, moving forward," Allen said.

His return has been one his teammates have been looking forward to, even if it may come at the expense of them losing some minutes on the floor.

"We're a family, always pulling for one another, so that's the first thing," C's guard Avery Bradley told CSNNE.com recently. "And we're so much better a team when he's with us. For us, we need everybody healthy, playing their game, to have a good run in the playoffs."

Sox may have finally found their everyday third baseman for the postseason

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Sox may have finally found their everyday third baseman for the postseason

BOSTON — As has been well-documented, the Red Sox have tried any number of solutions at third base this season, with eight different players getting starts at the position.

Travis Shaw has the most starts of anyone, with 99. But with three games left in the season, it's become apparent that Brock Holt is being viewed as the likely starter in the post-season.

Holt started all three games in the recent series in New York and was the starter Friday night against Toronto, too.

"You look at the consistent quality to the at-bats," said John Farrell, "and they've been there for him. That's not to say the other guys aren't important to us. But this is the time of year where you're looking to put the best, current lineup on the field and his versatility has shown up a number of ways. He's a confident defender at third base and his skill set is a little bit different from the other guys.

"So against righthanded pitching, that could be the guy we're going with."

Holt came into Friday hitting .319 (22-for-69) in the last 24 games.

Shaw, meanwhile, has been streaky to a fault. In the second half of the season, Shaw has posted a slash line of .195/.260/.362.

"We've seen (the streakiness both ways) in short spurts," Farrell said. "He does have the ability to carry us. But we're trying to get there and we're at a point in the year where every game is meaningful. That's not to say you turn your back on what he did earlier in the season. But we're looking for sparks somewhere."

What's more, Farrell had Holt hitting second in the lineup, in an effort to produce more offense. The Sox were limited to just eight runs in the three-game series at Yankee Stadium, and over the last 11 games, scored more than five runs just once.

Holt hit second, with Xander Bogaerts dropped to sixth.

"This is to create a little bit of a spark for us offensively," explained Farrell. "We've been grinding a little bit. And also, (we want) to create a little more (left-right) balance up and down the lineup."

TIME TO PLAY

As the final few regular season games of his career wind down, David Ortiz acknowledged that it's becoming increasing difficult to focus on the games with all the tributes and ceremonies going on.

In the final 11 days of the season, Ortiz will have had five pre-game ceremonies held in his honor -- and it would have been six had not Ortiz asked the Tampa Bay Rays to cancel the ceremony they had planned in the aftermath of the death that morning of pitcher Jose Fernandez.

On Thursday night, Ortiz has his family on the field for a pre-game celebration hosted by the New York Yankees.

Minutes later, he had to step in to the batter's box against CC Sabathia. Sometimes, it's hard to flip that switch and be emotionally ready to compete.

"I'm not going to lie to you -- it has (gotten harder)," said Ortiz. "We're already in the playoffs, so for the next three days, I don't really have to worry about it. But the best thing about it is that once we get into the playoffs, there's not going to be all these distractions.

"I like to mentally focus when we play, especially when I'm playing for a reason. We work extremely hard during the regular season to get into the playoffs and once we get there, I don't want to blow that off. It's not easy to (do all the ceremonies) and play baseball at the same time. It can be a distraction."