WALTHAM You know, Allen Iverson may have been on to something with his disdain for practice.
Because the way things are starting to play out, keeping Ray Allen out of practices and limiting him during shootarounds may be the only way to get him back on the floor for an actual game.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers is getting to a point where that may indeed be an option to consider as Allen continues to struggle at returning to the court since suffering a right ankle injury during the regular season.
"We don't know if practicing is a good idea or not," Rivers said prior to Thursday's practice which did include Allen.
Allen made it through a rare Celtics practice on Thursday, seemingly okay.
But we've seen time and time again, Allen would make it through a workout in decent shape the day before a game, only to have problems surface within hours or a day later.
Rivers acknowledged that he would "be upset" at himself if Allen made it through Thursday's practice but was unable to play in Game 3.
Allen, who has missed the last 11 games -- including the last nine of the regular season and both playoff games thus far -- remains hopeful he'll be able to play Friday.
"I like how I feel now; I'm in a good place," he said. "I'm optimistic."
Since he began having significant ankle problems in late March, he's had days when the ankle felt good enough to allow him to do many of the preparation-like things he's used to, such as practicing with the team or participating in the C's shootaround on game days.
But the good vibes then are soon followed by swelling and discomfort.
Allen recently revealed that he has bone spurs in the right ankle. He said swelling in the ankle area makes the bone spurs more active and, thus, puts his pain threshold to the test in ways that have kept him sidelined.
That's why Allen's demeanor on Thursday, while upbeat, had more to do with how he was feeling at the moment than it did the possibility that he might play on Friday.
"I've tried to read my body as best I can," Allen said. "The last couple days, I've been in a really good place."
When asked about playing in Game 3, a grinning Allen said, "I'm optimistic first; period. I deal with the days as they come. If I'm sitting here Friday feeling good, that's a different story."
A 16-year-veteran, Allen is known for his ritualistic preparation which does add some pressure to that gimpy, surgically repaired ankle.
Hes a tough one because hes such a creature of habit," Rivers said. "He does his workouts the night before every game and does his two hours of shooting and then before the game does his hour of shooting. Thats a lot of work. We have to figure out a way of allowing him to try to do some of it, but not doing so much where when he finishes he cant play. Id rather take 10 minutes of him on the floor than nothing, if thats what it comes to.
Convincing Allen to ease up is a lot easier said than done.
"I only know what I know," Allen said. "Even in the games that I haven't played, I still try to get into the building and work on something to hopefully get my body ready and prepared to keep it where it needs to be. I don't fly by the seat of my pants. Everything is deliberate. I've been deliberately doing what I need to get back. So hopefully, I'll get to that point."