After rough start, Allen takes - and makes - big shots

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After rough start, Allen takes - and makes - big shots

BOSTON Call it the re-run that never gets old; at least not for Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

It's the fourth quarter, the score is close, the ball is in Ray Allen's hands and swish!

"Ray Allen for 3!!!!" is soon heard throughout the TD Garden.

For a player who has made a career out of delivering fourth quarter daggers, there was plenty of reason to believe that on Saturday night, it just wasn't going to happen.

But there was Allen, gimpy ankle and all, coming up with one of the biggest shots of the night as Boston held on for an 85-75 Game 7 victory over Philadelphia to advance to the Conference finals where they'll meet Miami.

After missing eight of his first nine shots, Allen hit his only two shots of the fourth quarter - both 3s - that could not have come at a better time.

"Ray, he never could get it going but he made a couple of big shots, obviously," Rivers said.

But that didn't stop the Celtics from looking for Allen on a 3-pointer that, when he made it, doubled the C's lead to 60-54 at the time.

"To have trust in Ray, after the way he was shooting the ball, to get it to him for him to make it says a lot about Ray and I think it says a lot about our team," Rivers said. "That we trust you for 48 minutes. And I thought that was huge."

Seeing Allen struggle so mightily wasn't that big of a deal. He's a shooter, and it's not unusual for them to go through stretches in which shots simply do not fall.

But making things worst for Allen was the fact that it was clear that the Sixers weren't nearly as worried about defending him on the perimeter as they were in the first four or five games of this series.

Well aware that Allen wasn't moving as well as he's used to because of a right ankle injury, the Sixers often had the defender on Allen to help off and help defend the post area. That led to a number of great shot opportunities that more often than not, Allen makes teams pay for giving to him.

"I had some great looks," Allen said. "Probably the best that I've seen so far in the postseason. I wish I had them back, but they go in when they count. It's almost like I need the fourth quarter I love to get to that point and focus in a little more."

Seeing Allen continue to fire one missed shot after another, did nothing but want Rivers to see Allen continue to fire away.

But there was a point in the second half where the foot soreness that Allen has been dealing with, was getting painfully worst for him.

Rivers knew something was wrong when Allen passed up not one, but two wide open shot attempts - something a scorer like Allen would never, ever do.

When Rivers took Allen out of the game, he went over to him and reminded that, "we're not going to have that (passing up shots).'"

That's when Allen told him about the soreness in his foot.

"He just said, 'my foot's killing me. I need a break. I'm good,'" Rivers recalled. "I told him again, I said, 'You don't ever pass up shots.' The biggest part was Rondo went over there and told him the same thing, which I thought was great for Ray to hear, confidence-wise. And then Kevin (Garnett) went over and told him. I thought that was big for him to hear."

But Allen, arguably the greatest shooter of this generation, may not be as explosive as he once was or have the kind of above-the-rim ability that he once possessed.

Still, he is Ray Allen, a shooter who rarely sees a shot that he doesn't want to take.

"Ray is the ultimate gun slinger," Rivers said. "I mean, really. That's what makes great players great. I was a basketball player one day. And I would've never taken that shot late in the game like Ray, after missing my first 15. A lot of guys you have to have a (courage) to do that, you really do. It was just impressive. And you felt like if he got a shot - I didn't know if he was going to make it, but I knew he was going to take it."

Said Allen: "My lift isn't where it needs to be. At certain times, it's almost like I'm guessing - which I don't like to do - so as I'm coming around, just trying to take all my momentum into the shot."

But when it comes to taking and on most nights, delivering big shots, few have come through as often as Ray Allen. And there's no guesswork involved with that.

Healthy or not, Allen is still an important part of the C's plan even if he's not shooting the ball well. In Saturday's Game 7 win, the Celtics were plus-19 with Allen in the game - the highest plusminus ratio of any player on the floor.

But Allen knows as well as anyone that for the C's to pull off one of the biggest upsets and get back to the NBA Finals, they'll need everyone - himself included - to do what he does best.

And that's making shots, which is the story of Allen's career, a story that the Celtics wouldn't mind being repeated a lot in the conference finals against Miami.

Bradley left off NBA's all-defensive teams

Bradley left off NBA's all-defensive teams

BOSTON – Avery Bradley was one of the NBA’s better defenders this past season, even as injuries limited him to just 55 games played. 

The lack of court time may have been a factor in Bradley being left off the NBA’s all-defensive first and second teams which were announced on Monday. 

Bradley, a member of the NBA's all-defensive first team last season, received 12 first-place votes as part of a 46-point voting total which was tops among the players who did not make the first or second team. 

Golden State’s Draymond Green, Utah’s Rudy Gobert and San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard were the top three vote-getters, which explains why they are the three finalist for the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award which will be announced tonight during the NBA Awards show which begins at 9 p.m. on TNT.

In addition to Green, Gobert and Leonard, the first team also included Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul who was named to his seventh all-NBA defensive team, with this being the sixth straight time being on the first unit. Houston’s Patrick Beverley, a second-team all-NBA defensive selection following the 2013-2014 season, was also named to the first team. 

The second unit included Memphis guard (and former Celtic) Tony Allen, San Antonio’s Danny Green, New Orleans center Anthony Davis with Oklahoma City’s Andre Roberson and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo rounding out the second team. 

In addition to Bradley, other Celtics receiving votes for one of the two all-defensive teams included Marcus Smart (five first-place votes, 21 points total); Jae Crowder (five points total) and Isaiah Thomas (one point total). 

Brown earns spot on NBA's all-rookie second team

Brown earns spot on NBA's all-rookie second team

BOSTON – Drafted with the third overall pick by a playoff team like the Boston Celtics, the expectations for Jaylen Brown were limited as best. 

But the 6-foot-7 rookie showed steady improvement throughout the season, and his hard work was rewarded on Monday with a spot on the NBA’s all-rookie second team. 

Joining Brown on the second team were Denver’s Jamal Murray, Phoenix forward Marquese Chriss, Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram and Dallas’s Yogi Ferrell. 

The first team consisted of Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon and Philadelphia’s Dario Saric who were the only two unanimous selections to the first unit. They were joined by Sixers big man Joel Embiid, Sacramento’s Buddy Hield and New York center Willy Hernangomez. 

Brogdon, Saric and Embiid are the three finalists for the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award which will be announced tonight during the league’s NBA Awards show at 9 p.m. tonight on TNT.

Brown appeared in 78 games for the Celtics with 20 starts, averaging 6.6 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.