Allen likely to return, start Wednesday vs. Spurs

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Allen likely to return, start Wednesday vs. Spurs

WALTHAM You know Ray Allen is going to be back in the Boston Celtics lineup at some point, with the only real question -- besides when -- is: Will he start, or will he come off the bench behind Avery Bradley?

Celtics coach Doc Rivers put all those questions to bed following a rare practice, indicating that Allen would likely be back in the starting lineup on Wednesday against San Antonio.

Rivers was pleased that Allen made it through Tuesday's practice, but he was quick to add, "that still doesn't mean he'll play tomorrow. Because the practice could affect his ankle and he can't practice tomorrow. Right now, he's playing."

Allen said he had a cortisone shot prior to Sunday's game against Miami and, "had all day to let it maneuver through my body. I came in today and felt like I had two new wheels."

A healthy Allen certainly makes the Celtics a deeper team, which is important this time of year. But his return comes at a time when the C's are playing their best basketball of the year. And the man that replaced him, Avery Bradley, has been an instrumental figure in the Celtics' strong play of late.

Now that Allen is on the verge of returning, Bradley goes back to being a guy that the C's look to for bench support. It'll be worth keeping an eye on whether the transition will be a relatively smooth one for both players.

More important than the transition is whether the Celtics can continue on their winning ways now that they are positioned atop the Atlantic Division with less than a month left in the regular season.

"Whatever we need to do as a team, the effort that I've seen over the last week-and-a-half, two weeks, has been great," Allen said. "That's all we need to make sure we keep up. Whatever combinations we work out there, we're all good enough and professional enough to understand it. But when we're out there playing . . . we're at a point in the season where everybody knows who each other are."

That's true.

Still, having missed so many games due to his right ankle injury, Tuesday's practice should go far in helping them re-establish timing within that first unit.

"You can see it," said Celtics forward Paul Pierce. "Whenever somebody got hurt and they come in, sometimes things . . . you're kind of off because you're used to playing every other day and then you go from playing every other day to sitting for five or six games, so definitely a practice is much-needed."

If there's a player to keep an eye on with Allen coming back to the lineup -- besides Allen -- it is Rajon Rondo.

Rondo was asked following Tuesday's practice how Allen's return to the starting lineup -- and Bradley's benching -- would affect his game.

"It's hard to say," Rondo said. "They're two different type of players. It doesn't matter really. As long as guys play hard, that's what it's about."

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

BOSTON -- With three crushing losses in a row at a time when results are really all that matters, the Boston Bruins are reeling at the wrong time during the regular season. The B’s tried their best to win a game 0-0 with strong defense against a sleepy Chicago Blackhawks bunch on Friday night, but ultimately coughed up a Marian Hossa goal in the final minutes for a 1-0 regulation loss at TD Garden.

The defeat continued a swirl downward for the Black and Gold over the last week, and was a second straight shutout loss on home ice for the first time in almost 15 years. The losing stretch has also kicked up the chatter that Claude Julien is in trouble as head coach of the Bruins, and the hockey club’s underperformance up and down the lineup is ultimately going to cost the NHL’s longest tenured bench boss his job.

The Ottawa Senators have passed the Bruins in the Atlantic Division, and it’s only a matter of time before the Toronto Maple Leafs move by them as well with both Toronto and Ottawa holding six games in hand on Boston. Combine all of this with the B’s having missed the playoffs in each of the previous two seasons leading into this one, and it shouldn’t be at all surprising that Julien is squarely on the coaching hot seat.

The B’s bench boss was asked about his job security after the Chicago loss, and clearly didn’t appreciate the tough, but appropriate question.

“Well, I’m not into shock-journalism,” said Julien in a prideful tone. “So I’ll stay away from that question if you don’t mind.”

The Bruins posted their Saturday schedule shortly after Julien and the B’s players had addressed the media following the loss, and sure enough the embattled coach is scheduled to address the media post-practice as part of the regular practice day routine. So it doesn’t seem that a move with Julien is imminent this weekend despite another loss, but both the coach and the players know something is going to happen to shake things up with this team if they continue to struggle.

“Right now it’s a results based situation, so if you’re going to keep losing games then probably something’s going to happen,” said Torey Krug. “But right now we’re just pretty down emotionally after this game, so I don’t want to look at the big picture. I just [want to] focus on what’s going on in this room, and hopefully we can come back with a good effort the next game.”

A good effort might help Julien’s standing with the Bruins in the short term, but it’s impossible to imagine the B’s bench boss making it through the rest of the Bruins regular season given all of things working against him right now.