Blakely: Should Allen return to starting lineup?

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Blakely: Should Allen return to starting lineup?

BOSTON When you get this deep into a playoff series, it really becomes a game of adjustments.

The Atlanta Hawks made their big move by putting Al Horford and Marvin Williams back in the starting lineup, reverting back to the starting lineup they had at the start of the regular season.

Will the Celtics follow suit?

Not likely, but it's certainly worth giving some thought if you're Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

The C's have been a much better team with more balance since moving Ray Allen to the bench and inserting Avery Bradley into the starting lineup.

But Bradley is not himself now with a left shoulder injury continuing to only get worse as he plays more.

The C's have plenty of options to turn to if they opt to sit Bradley and replace him with a healthier alternative: Sasha Pavlovic. Mickael Pietrus. Marquis Daniels. Maybe Keyon Dooling.

All have had moments this season when they have come up big for the C's.

But they all fall short of providing what Allen has provided throughout his illustrious Hall of Fame-bound career.

And with Allen's right ankle injury appearing more and more like a thing of the past, Allen is in the right place health-wise, at the right time for the Celtics.

His play since coming back has been reminiscent to the Ray Allen we saw at the start of the season, who on many nights kept the C's from completely sinking off the radar.

"We might not have won any games had he not been making shots," C's president of basketball operations, Danny Ainge, told CSNNE.com. "He was shooting the best of his career through the first 25 games. The team wasn't playing great, so people forget the impact that Ray was having for us early in the year."

Again, replacing Allen with Bradley has been one of the best moves made by Doc Rivers this season, easily.

But if Bradley continues to struggle physically on the floor, that will take away from his strong play defensively.

If he's not able to bring it on the defensive end like the C's are used to, replacing him with an offensive weapon like Allen at this point in the series could be exactly what the C's need to put away the Hawks.

And while it remains highly unlikely that the Celtics would make such a move right now -- especially when you consider that Allen is playing as many minutes or more coming off the bench than he did as a starter -- Boston has to exhaust all options at their disposal.

Bringing Ray Allen back into the fold as a starter?

That should be one of them.

Thomas strains right groin, says he'll 'be fine for Wednesday'

Thomas strains right groin, says he'll 'be fine for Wednesday'

The bumps and bruises continue to pile up for Isaiah Thomas, adding a new one to the group during Boston’s 107-106 loss at Houston. 
 
The 5-foot-9 guard said he strained his right groin in the second quarter, but added that the injury won’t force him to miss any games. 
 
“I’ll be alright,” Thomas told reporters after the loss. “I’ll get treatment. I’ll be fine for Wednesday (against Orlando).”
 
The injury appeared to have happened shortly after Houston’s Trevor Ariza hit a 3-pointer that put the Rockets ahead 55-45.
 
At the time it didn’t seem all that serious as Thomas, who had 20 points on the night, came down and drained a 3-pointer. 
 
But after the game, Thomas acknowledged his groin did bother him during the game in which he played 33-plus minutes. 
 
“A few drives I didn’t have the lift,” said Thomas, who finished with 20 points. “It is what it is. I’ll figure it out.”
 
Thomas, who played in all 82 regular season games last season in addition to each of Boston’s 21 games this season, has dealt with an assortment of injuries including but not limited to, a swollen middle finger injury on his left (shooting) hand. 
 
Thomas, an All-Star last season for the first time, has played at an elite level that should once again position him to be represent the Eastern Conference. 
 
Following Monday’s game, Thomas is averaging a career-high 26.0 points per game which ranks ninth in the NBA along with 6.1 assists. 

Smart: 'Can’t blame the officials for the outcome of the game'

Smart: 'Can’t blame the officials for the outcome of the game'

The fact that the James Harden of the Houston Rockets went to the free throw line 18 times which was more than the entire Celtics roster (12 free throw attempts total) certainly fired up conspiracy theorists among Celtics Nation. 
 
But what seemed to draw the most ire was what appeared to be a 3-pointer by Avery Bradley late in the fourth quarter that was initially called a long two-pointer. 
 
And after it was reviewed by the good folks in Secaucus, N.J., they allowed the ruling to stand because there wasn’t enough proof in the many replay angles for them to overturn the original call. 
 
The missed lay-ups by Al Horford and Isaiah Thomas in the closing seconds stand out, obviously. 
 
But the 3-pointer that wasn’t a 3-pointer was one of the more talked-about topics in the Celtics locker room afterwards. 
 
“From the angle we saw, it was a three,” Boston’s Marcus Smart told reporters after the game. “We definitely thought it was.”
 
Said Jae Crowder: “I thought it was a three. Nothing we can do about it now.”
 
It was that kind of game for the Celtics, one in which plays that could go either way more often than not, went against them. 
 
And while Bradley’s questionable two-pointer certainly was a factor in the game’s outcome, as was the free throw discrepancy and the late-game misses, ultimately the blame for Monday’s loss falls upon the Celtics players who were still in position to win despite all those setbacks.

They simply didn't get it done, when it mattered.
 
Smart, who had 13 points off the Celtics bench, understands that fans like to blame the officials when a game ends like Monday’s loss to Houston. 
 
“Officials, they did their job,” Smart said. “You can’t blame the officials for the outcome of the game. We made some costly plays down the stretch. Give credit to the Rockets. They made plays and executed down the stretch.”