Despite ankle injury, Allen far from irrelevant for Celtics

726852.jpg

Despite ankle injury, Allen far from irrelevant for Celtics

PHILADELPHIA The video doesn't lie.

Ray Allen runs from one baseline to another, using screens like he always has, to get open.

He finally gets to the spot on the floor he's searching for.

But there's a problem.

Whoever the Sixers have guarding him, is right there as well.

The ankle issues that have plagued Allen this season, have him running a step slower than he used to, which in turn has made him easier to defend.

"It's simple," Rivers said. "All you have to do is watch the game. He can't get away. Ray and (Indiana Pacers great) Reggie Miller, even Reggie when he was 38, spaced himself on the floor with his movement. Right now, when you watch it, the guy is standing right next to him."

Even though Allen can't get free like he or the Celtics are used to, there's no mistaking the positive impact he has on the Celtics most of the time he's on the floor.

"That's one of the things we keep showing Ray, to keep his spirits up," Rivers said. "No, you're not getting shots. You can't get away from guys right now."

But when you look back at Brandon Bass' career-high 27 points in Boston's Game 5 win, Allen's presence was indeed a factor in Bass' breakout game.

In a conversation with Allen, Rivers told him, "Brandon got a bunch of lay-ups, because you were on the same side that he was rolling. They're not going to leave you.'"

Rivers added, "the one thing he can still do, he can make an open shot."

But getting those open shots, at this point, remains a challenge especially against a Sixers defense that has emphasized trying to take Allen as much out of the offense as possible.

Allen didn't help matters when he suffered a rolled ankle injury in Game 5, an injury he says won't keep him out of tonight's game.

"It feels good now," Allen said. "I don't have any issues with it now. I'm glad I took myself out when I did. At least that gave it a chance to calm down."

Now Allen's focus is on doing what he can to help the Celtics squeeze out one more win over Philadelphia and with that, advance to the Conference Finals for the third time during the Big Three era.

The pressure of a close-out game is evident.

But Allen, much like a defender flying at him on a 3-point attempt, isn't too phased by the moment.

"It's like anything else, when you put so much pressure on yourself to succeed . . . my approach is to go into it and pay attention to the small details," Allen said. "Hopefully it'll take care of itself."

Allen will certainly have an opportunity to make an immediate impact now that he's back in the starting lineup with Avery Bradley (shoulders) sidelined indefinitely.

The bulk of Allen's career has been as a starter, so the idea of re-joining the first unit isn't one that takes much getting used to on his part.

"There's never an adjustment because you know exactly how to play the game," Allen said. "You know when to shoot, when not to shoot. I know who's on the floor and what they're capable of and how I need to be effective."

First-place Celtics continue to focus on playing well, not standings

First-place Celtics continue to focus on playing well, not standings

WALTHAM, Mass. – When it comes to NBA standings, no Celtic pays closer attention to it than Isaiah Thomas.
 
But the 5-foot-9 All-Star is quick to say that while he’s aware of what’s happening with other teams record-wise, Thomas, like his teammates, isn’t obsessed with it, even with the Celtics (48-26) now in first place in the East following Cleveland’s loss at San Antonio on Monday.
 
“It’s a good feeling,” Thomas said. “It’s still not the end of the year; anything can happen. It’s a nice feeling to be the number one seed for once, but we just have to continue to control what we can control.”

The fact that Boston is even in position to finish with the best record in the East is amazing when you consider injuries and illnesses have forced them to use 13 different starting lineups this season.
 
And the preferred starting five of Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Al Horford and Amir Johnson has played together 31 times and posted an impressive 24-7 record.
 
Celtics coach Brad Stevens has been consistent in his message that while having the best record in the East is nice, he’s more consumed with the team continuing to improve.
 
“It doesn’t mean a whole lot right now,” Stevens said of being in first place. “The whole idea is to make progress, get better every day and stay in the moment. You do that if you’re in last place trying to build up or whether you’re in a position where you’re fighting for seeding. Ultimately, we’ve been able to grow and get a little bit better. But I still think we can play a lot better. That’s where my focus is.”
 
And the same holds true for his players. Thomas knows how unusual this season has been for the Celtics, who continue finding ways to win despite frequently being short-handed.
 
The latest example of that involves forward Jonas Jerebko, who is questionable for Wednesday’s game against Milwaukee because of a sore left knee that limited him in Tuesday’s practice.
 
“It’s a long season. A lot of things can happen whether they be good or bad and we know that,” Thomas said. “We just try to withstand the storm we’ve had a few times this year, and continue to try and stay as positive as possible and we’ve done that. We’re in a good position right now. We just have to continue to take care of business.”
  
And that means steadily improving while piling up the wins, particularly against teams such as the Bucks (37-36), who are among a handful of teams that could potentially be Boston’s first-round opponent.
 
Milwaukee comes in having won 11 of its past 14 games.

“It makes the game that much more important,” said Celtics guard Avery Bradley. “Just like the Miami game. We want to let the teams know now, they go up against us in the playoffs, it’s no mercy. We’re going to play hard. We’re going to bring it every single night. We’re going to play Celtics basketball every single night. Them knowing that, we can scare a lot of teams if we’re playing the right way.”

Jerebko questionable for Wednesday against Bucks

Jerebko questionable for Wednesday against Bucks

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Celtics have spent most of this season playing short-handed and Wednesday’s game against Milwaukee will potentially be another one of those games.
 
Veteran forward Jonas Jerebko has a sore left knee and is considered questionable for the Bucks’ game.
 
“Jonas went through about half of [Tuesday’s] practice,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens.
 
Jerebko has missed two games this season due to illness.
 
Because of Milwaukee’s length at seemingly every position, Jerebko’s ability to play both forward positions will be something the Celtics will surely miss if he’s unable to play.
 
This season, Jerebko has appeared in 69 games while averaging 3.9 points and 3.4 rebounds while shooting 44.1 percent from the field and 35.0 percent on 3’s.