Boston Celtics

Allen beginning to get back on target

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Allen beginning to get back on target

BOSTON Ray Allen remains day-to-day for the Boston Celtics.

But it seems everyday is bringing him just that much closer to being the late-game, dagger-shooting Ray Allen that Celtics fans have come to embrace and this time of year, expect to come up with big plays.

He certainly did in Boston's 115-111 overtime loss at Miami in Game Two of the Eastern Conference finals. They'll need more of Allen's clutch shooting on Friday in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals against Miami. Boston trails 2-0 in the best-of-seven series.

Rajon Rondo was on a different level than anyone else that night, finishing with a career-high 44 points to go with 10 assists and eight rebounds in what was one of the greatest games played by a Celtic in the postseason.

But it was the 3-pointer by Allen late in the fourth quarter that tied the score and ultimately, forced the game into overtime.

"Miami doesn't leave me often, but they left me that time," Allen said.

The 6-foot-5 guard, still dealing with bone spurs in his right ankle, has been in the midst of his worst postseason in terms of scoring (9.8) and shooting from both the field (39.7) and from 3-point range (27.9) in addition to a just 61.3 percent from the free throw line.

But in Boston's Game 2 loss, Allen's 13 points were the second-highest scoring output he has had in the playoffs this year. More important, he was moving with the kind of fluidity that has seldom been seen during this postseason run by the Celtics.

For them to come away with a victory, Allen will need to build off of what was about as close to the Ray Allen of old that the C's have seen lately.

"The whole game I felt good," Allen said. "I had really no issues moving around the floor. As the game went on, it was almost like if I forget about it, then it's a good thing, and I forgot about my foot, and eventually I just kept playing and I didn't have any issues."

And that bodes well for both Allen and the Celtics heading into a must-win game Friday night.

30 teams in 30 days: Grit-and-Grind days are over in Memphis

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30 teams in 30 days: Grit-and-Grind days are over in Memphis

We’ll take a look at all 30 teams in the next 30 days as they prepare for the 2017-2018 regular season, which is when the real fireworks begin! Today's team: The Memphis Grizzlies. 

Memphis is no different than any other NBA team when it comes to making changes.
 
It’s an inevitable part of the NBA.

 
There are changes, and then there’s losing Zach Randolph and Tony Allen to free agency.
 
They didn’t lose the face of their franchise.
 
They lost its backbone.
 
And when you throw in the departure of Vince Carter, the Grizzlies are getting younger and more athletic and maybe just as significant, further removed from the physical, rough-and-tough brand of basketball they played for years.

You’ll have to go to YouTube to see Grit-and-Grind anymore.
 
Still, this isn’t all that surprising when you consider they brought in a new coach last year, David Fizdale, who came from Miami but also spent time on the bench as an assistant in Atlanta and Golden State.

Those teams played a more position-less, free-flowing brand of basketball compared to the Grizzlies.
 
So what we’re starting to see now is a Memphis team that will eventually look and hopefully play, more akin to what their coach envisions.
 
While the DNA of this team has changed dramatically, the Grizzlies will still be among the teams battling for one of the last playoff spots in the West this season.
 
They return Marc Gasol who still ranks among the best centers in the NBA. They also have point guard Mike Conley Jr., who unfortunately still holds the title for the best veteran player to not be named to an NBA All-Star team.
 
He’s coming off his best season as a pro when he averaged career highs in scoring (20.5 points per game) and shooting (45.9 percent from the field, 40.7 percent on 3’s) along with 3.5 rebounds, also a career benchmark.
 
In addition, Conley’s 6.3 assists per game were just 0.2 assists away from tying his career best in that category.
 
But for Memphis to surprise many and extend its playoff run to eight years in a row, the Grizzlies’ inside-outside tandem of Gasol and Conley, will need help.
 
A healthy Chandler Parsons would be a huge boost.
 
One of the more versatile wing players in the league, injuries have left Parsons a shell of the player that he once was.
 
He has had each of his past three seasons end prematurely due to injuries, so it’s hard to imagine Memphis will be banking on him to be healthy enough to make a major impact on the team this season.
 
They added Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans, both from Sacramento, to the roster this season.
 
Both come into training camp competing for a starting job.
 
The Grizzlies also have high hopes for 6-9 forward Rade Zagorac, a second-round pick in 2016 acquired from Boston who spent an additional year overseas before coming over to the NBA.
 
The new faces will be critical to the success of Memphis in those post Grit-and-Grind era.
 
Key free agent/draft/trade additions: Ben McLemore (Sacramento); Tyreke Evans (Sacramento).
 
Key losses: Zach Randolph (Sacramento); Tony Allen (New Orleans); Vince Carter (Sacramento).
 
Rookies of note: Rade Zagorac; Ivan Rabb; Dillon Brooks.
 
Expectations: 33-49 (fourth in the Southwest Division, 11th in the West).
 

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