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.

Blakely's five thoughts from the Green and White Scrimmage

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Blakely's five thoughts from the Green and White Scrimmage

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BOSTON – As has been customary with the Celtics in recent years, their open practice on Friday night featured a pair of 10-minute scrimmages pitting the “Green” team of starters against the “White” team of reserves.
 
The White team, which apparently has been kicking the Green team’s butt for a good chunk of camp, emerged with a 33-26 win. And the Green team had to rally to win the second scrimmage, 24-18.

Similar to summer league, you can’t read too much into what happened and what didn’t happen on Friday night.
 
That said, there were a number of clear and undeniable positives for the Celtics to take from the game and hopefully build upon them going forward.
 
 
5. Al Horford's leadership established
 
The first player’s voice that the 6,000-plus fans at the TD Garden heard from was Al Horford and don’t think for a minute that was just happenstance.
 
For all the scoring and rebounding and defending that the Celtics will look for Horford to do, it is his ability to lead this team that separates him from most of his NBA brethren.
 
The fact that he’s a four-time All-Star speaks to what he has done in this league as a player. But even more telling is that was the fact that he’s been to the playoffs every year he has been in the NBA. And during that span of nine years, he has been pivotal in leading Atlanta beyond the first round – a primary goal for him and the Celtics this season – five times.
 
 
4. Celtics defense could be an elite unit this season
 
The Celtics were a top-10 defensive team last season, and have every reason to believe that they’ll be even better now. Boston has a trio of Pit Bull-like defenders on the perimeter in Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier and All-NBA first team defender Avery Bradley. Throw in Jae Crowder’s defensive versatility at the wing along with a pair of upper echelon rim-protectors in Amir Johnson and Al Horford and the Celtics no longer are a team that can put a couple good defenders on the floor at one time. They actually have the depth now to go with a ‘Big’ all-defensive team or a ‘small ball’ all-defensive team which provides the kind of versatility that should result in Boston being a top-3 defensive team this season.
 
 
3. Marcus Smart poised for breakout season
 
Smart seemed about as comfortable as we’ve seen him on Friday, showcasing his range as a shooter while still being able to get after it defensively. Based on what he has done in terms of improving his game, Smart seems more likely to play off the ball than on it. With his size, strength, athleticism and ability to defend multiple positions that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If Boston does indeed have one of those magical-type seasons, Smart is a player that has the potential to help significantly. He understands the Celtics’ system inside and out, and is doing what young players on the rise should do – show growth as a player.
 
 
2. James Young playing best basketball at right time
 
These are some pretty stressful times for James Young, but you wouldn’t know it by the extremely cool demeanor he has exuded. Although it has only been a few short days of training camp, James Young has stepped up his game knowing anything less than his best could result in him being waived and potentially on his way out of the NBA. During the first Green-White scrimmage on Friday night, Danny Ainge said there were five guys essentially fighting for two roster spots. He didn’t single out Young specifically, but it’s no secret that the 21-year-old who is heading into third NBA season is among the players in that group. To Young's credit, he's doing a lot of those little things such as playing solid defense, getting deflections and making "hockey assists" to show he belongs in the NBA and more significantly, should remain a Celtic. 
  
1. Terry Rozier's tremendous strides
 
Rozier was the star of the two scrimmages the Celtics put on in front of about 6,000 people at the TD Garden Friday night. He scored, got assists, rebounded … he did it all. What impressed me the most about him was his defense on Isaiah Thomas. Rozier loves Thomas and respects the hell out of him. But Rozier  has made no secret about wanting to get more playing time this year, and is out to snatch some of the minutes from anyone ahead of him, Thomas included. We saw the tenacious potential Rozier has as an on-the-ball defender, but he seems to have taken that up a notch from his rookie season. And the confidence he has in his shot-making is undeniable. We saw that in summer league and it’s good to see that he brought it with him into training camp. Ditto for his decision-making and leading of the team at the point which are also areas in which he has improved but still needs to continue to get better at on a more consistent basis. There’s no doubt at this point Rozier will play this season and likely get a lion’s share of the minutes vacated by Evan Turner’s departure to Portland.