Ainge regrets not re-signing Allen

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Ainge regrets not re-signing Allen

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

WALTHAM When Danny Ainge makes a personnel decision, it's rare that even with hindsight, he looks back on it with regret.

But the decision to not pursue re-signing Tony Allen with more vigor last summer was one that Ainge admits he wouldn't mind a do-over on, if possible.

At the time, Ainge had originally offered Allen a shorter-term deal than the three-year, 9.7 million contract he agreed to with the Memphis Grizzlies.

The perception has been that the Celtics didn't step up financially to bring Allen back.

"We offered Tony the same deal he ended up getting in Memphis," Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, said on Friday.

However, that offer did not come until after the Grizzlies' offer.

Ainge's initial offer was for fewer years than Allen was willing to accept.

By the time Boston stepped up and matched the Grizzlies' offer, Allen began to think more about the opportunity to start fresh in Memphis as opposed to coming back to the Celtics and remaining a backup to Ray Allen and Paul Pierce.

Ainge recognizes that Allen may still be a Celtic had he made his final offer initially, "but we were trying to maintain our (salary cap) flexibility," he said.

Kevin Garnett, who will make 21.25 million this upcoming season, and Ray Allen who is expected to pick up his option for this upcoming season that will pay him 10 million, are both coming off the Celtics books prior to the summer of 2012.

The Celtics didn't want to re-sign Tony Allen to a contract that went beyond two seasons.

"It wasn't about money, it was about years and flexibility," Ainge said. "We wanted to keep a lot of cap flexibility and that was the issue."

Since leaving Boston for Memphis, Tony Allen has distinguished himself as one of the league's premier defenders which is evident by him being named to the NBA's All-Defensive second team this season.

One of the main pitches the Grizzlies made to woo Allen was an opportunity to establish a name for himself instead of remaining in the shadow of Allen and Pierce.

In Memphis, Tony Allen has become more of a leader both on and off the court and was instrumental in the eighth-seeded Grizzlies upsetting top-seeded San Antonio in the first round of the playoffs.

After Friday's 95-83 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder (they prominently feature another cast aside former Celtic, Kendrick Perkins), Allen and the Grizzlies are now one win away from a trip to the Western Conference finals.

"I'm more vocal," Allen said of his leadership role with Memphis. "As if I was Kevin (Garnett) or Paul (Pierce). They were the most vocal guys (in Boston). I kind of just looked at what they were doing. They were the realist. If something was going wrong in a game, they'd speak on it and they don't let it get out of hand. That's pretty much what I do with our guys."

Said Ainge: "I don't think Tony always liked his role here in Boston. I don't think we understand how hard it is playing behind Ray and Paul, because they're so good."

If Boston had offered three years initially, Ainge believes there's a good chance that Allen would be a Celtic now.

That still may not have been enough for the Celtics' season to be alive right now.

"I don't think he's a savior for a team," said Ainge, who added, "I think he's a good player."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Celtics-Cavs Game 4 preview: C's expect an aggressive LeBron

Celtics-Cavs Game 4 preview: C's expect an aggressive LeBron

CLEVELAND -- Marcus Smart made shots, Jonas Jerebko (10 points) outscored the entire Cleveland second unit by himself, and Kevin Love’s hot hand in the first half cooled off considerably in the second.

It was on so many levels the perfect storm for the Boston Celtics in Game 3 which ended with Avery Bradley getting a friendly bounce or two – OK, it was four bounces to be exact – that would be the difference in Boston’s 111-108 Game 3 win, which cut Cleveland’s lead in the best-of-seven series to 2-1.

But that perfect storm is now a thing of the past, which is why the Celtics are battening down the hatches for Hurricane James – LeBron James – in Game 4.

James scored just 11 points in Game 3 on 4-for-13 shooting.

Certainly, Boston’s defense had a role in James’ struggles.

But after looking to be a facilitator at the start of the game, James never flipped the switch to become a terminator.

So, as his teammates struggled with their shots in the second half, James didn’t ratchet up his aggression level to get buckets and in doing so, was just what the Celtics needed to get a much-needed victory.

Had Boston lost Game 3, this series being over would have been a mere formality with no team in NBA history has ever rallied from a 3-0 series deficit to advance to the next round of play.

But the Celtics are very much alive and well with a chance to even up the series at 2-2 with a victory tonight.

If they are to somehow find a way to beat the Cavs on their home floor a second straight game, it’ll most likely come after fending off a strong surge from James.

This season, James has been an offensive power following games in which he has scored less than 20 points in a game.

In the following game after he scores less than 20 points, James has averaged 27.8 points.

And his record in those games during the regular season was 10-3.

“He’s going to be aggressive,” said Boston’s Avery Bradley. “LeBron James understands how to play the game and he understands what his team needs from him. He’s most likely going to be a lot more aggressive. It’s our job to make sure we defend him as best we can; take other guys out of the game.”

Like Tristan Thompson who had 18 points but only took four shots (he made 3) to get it, as most of his scoring came from the free throw line after getting fouled.

“He had 12 free throws or something like that? He’s playing well for them,” Bradley said. ‘We have to try and limit him to less rebounds. It’s going to be hard. If we’re able to do that and guard the 3, I like our chances.”

Boston’s Al Horford anticipates seeing not just James but the entire Cavs roster try to be more aggressive at the start.

And that means as good as they did in Game 3, they’ll have to be even better tonight.

“On the defensive end, we feel there’s definitely a lot of room for improvement,” Horford told CSN. “We just have to come out and play.”

In Game 3, Boston fell behind by as many as 21 points but for the most part stayed within arm’s reach of the Cavaliers which was a major improvement over Games 1 and 2 in Boston.

And as the Celtics continued to climb back into Game 3, James’ lack of impact plays remained a mystery.

And while there are some who are quick to put Sunday’s loss on James, not surprisingly his coach sees things differently.

“We're all to blame,” said Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue on Monday. “We lost; it happens. For a guy who played great for five straight months, he's got to have a bad game sooner or later. He's human. He didn't shoot the ball well. It wasn't his ordinary game. But Kevin (Love) and Kyrie (Irving) had it going early and they played well, so it kind of got him out of rhythm a little bit in that first half. That's no excuse. Like I said, they played well, but we've just got to play better, be more physical.”

After reviewing the video from Game 3, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was once again impressed with James for the most part making the right basketball play most of the game.

“When you've got guys that are all on fire the way they are, the right basketball play is to find them,” Stevens said. “He just made it over and over.

Stevens added, “The guy is a tremendous basketball player. He makes the right play over and over, and he thinks the game, he sees the game. He's a really good defender. He can read situations. So, I thought he was pretty darned good. But like I said (following Game 3), I'm not going to be critical of the best player in the world.”

Indeed, Stevens has far more important things to worry about, like bracing his players for the impending storm known to all as LeBron James.