Blakely: Should Allen return to starting lineup?

Blakely: Should Allen return to starting lineup?
May 9, 2012, 9:10 pm
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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.