Boston Celtics

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.

30 teams in 30 days: Another struggle in New Orleans for Boogie and The Brow

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30 teams in 30 days: Another struggle in New Orleans for Boogie and The Brow

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 New Orleans Pelicans. 

Anthony Davis has waited patiently for the New Orleans Pelicans to assemble a cast around him that could be competitive in the West.
 
Still waiting...
 
The Pelicans have more big-name players on their roster this season, but those players, by and large, are well past their primes. And that will likely result in yet another playoff-less season.

 
New Orleans’ best hopes of bucking the odds and become a competitive, playoff-caliber team will hinge on how a couple of former Celtics perform.
 
Tony Allen and Rajon Rondo, both members of Boston’s 2008 championship team, will be looked upon to provide solid play as well as veteran leadership.
 
Rondo, now 31, a four-time All-Star, was in and out of the Chicago Bulls lineup last season before emerging in the playoffs with a pair of strong performances against the Celtics, which put Boston in a 2-0 series hole despite the first two games being at the TD Garden.
 
However, the point guard broke his right hand in Game 2 and was unable to return, which proved to be a major turning point as Boston went on to win the series in six games.
 
In Allen, the Pelicans add one of the best perimeter defenders in the game. And while he is 35, he doesn’t come with the kind of wear and tear you typically associate with a player his age.
 
That’s because Allen has not ever been a player to log major minutes. This past season in Memphis, Allen averaged a career-high 27.0 minutes per game.
 
Despite playing limited minutes, it still didn’t keep him from being recognized for his defense, which has led to him being named to the NBA’s All-Defensive first or second team, six times (first team in 2012, 2013 and 2015; and second team in 2011, 2016 and 2017).
 
Those veterans will be important, but the key to making this work for New Orleans lies in how well Davis and DeMarcus Cousins mesh.
 
Acquired just before the trade deadline in February, the Pelicans were just 7-10 with Cousins in the lineup and 4-4 when he did not play.
 
However, that came on the fly, which is why there’s optimism in New Orleans that Davis and Cousins will work together even better with a training camp under their belts.
 
Ultimately, the Pelicans have to field a team that can be competitive, if for no other reason than to appease Davis.

While Davis has shown no signs of wanting to play elsewhere, you have to wonder just how much patience will he have with a New Orleans team that has made just one playoff appearance in his five NBA seasons.
 
Of the other 13 lottery picks from his draft, only one (Kendall Marshall) has made fewer playoff appearances.
 
Anything short of a playoff appearance will only lead to more questions about Davis being traded.
 
"I understand it's a business, but if I don't hear anything from Dell [Demps, the Pelicans general manager] or my agent, I don't pay attention to it," Davis told reporters this summer, regarding the rumors about being traded to Boston. "Once I first heard [the rumors], then I heard it again, then I heard it again, I just wanted to make sure. I found out it wasn't [true], and that was the beginning of the summer, so I haven't paid attention to it since."
 
Key free agent/draft/trade additions: Tony Allen (Memphis); Rajon Rondo (Chicago); Ian Clark (Golden State).
 
Key losses: Tyreke Evans (Sacramento); Tim Frazier (Washington); Terrence Jones (Qingdao Doublestar of Chinese Basketball Association); Langston Galloway (Detroit);
 
Rookies of note:
 None.
 
Expectations:
31-51 (fifth in the Southwest Division, 14th in the West).