Allen still Boston's go-to shooter in the clutch

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Allen still Boston's go-to shooter in the clutch

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON The ball may not lie, but numbers sometimes do -- especially when it comes to Boston Celtics guard Ray Allen.

One of the hottest shooters in the NBA this season, Allen was having one of those nights when nothing seemed to be falling for him.

And there were the Celtics, in a tie game with about 24 seconds to play.

Paul Pierce had 22 points at that point.

Shaquille O'Neal had his first double-double.

Kevin Garnett was re-introduced to his 15-20 foot jump-shot.

So who were the C's looking to shoot the game winner?

Ray Allen, of course.

And like he has done so many times, Allen, who was 1-for-7 shooting at the time, was money when it counted.

His 22-foot jumper with 24.5 seconds to play gave the C's an 84-82 lead, and would prove to be the game-winning basket.

"That's just Ray," Pierce said. "You've seen him do it a million times. He's such a great player, such a clutch player, I can't even describe being out there with him, I love playing with him."

Coach Doc Rivers said the play was drawn up for Allen to take the shot. And if he wasn't able to, Pierce was the second option.

"Ray just makes shots, you know?" Rivers said. "He's one of those guys, he can go 0-for-10; you know the one guy that believes he's going to make it is Ray. And the second group is our team. When we drew it up, you could tell, they thought it would work and they went with it. It was great."

While Allen's ability to consistently deliver big shots in pressure moments has been a huge plus for the Celtics, even more impressive is the willingness of his teammates to allow him to take that shot.

Before Allen and Garnett arrived in Boston in 2007, everyone knew who was going to take the final shot for Boston in the closing moments of a tight game. Without fail, it was Pierce.

Garnett was that guy in Minnesota.

"Now you got a situation, you got guys who can come through in the clutch," Pierce said. "It's just such a relief when you got guys who can make baskets for us."

And it doesn't matter how that player is shooting prior to that final shot.

As Rivers drew up the play, he said he had no hesitation calling Allen's number, even if he had misfired on six of his previous seven shots from the field.

"No. No. Ray is a shooter," Rivers said. "Shooters make shots."

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

Blakely: Celtics not as feared as they were last season

Blakely: Celtics not as feared as they were last season

BOSTON -- On more than one occasion Monday night, the Boston Celtics were a discombobulated bunch with some players thinking they were running one play, while others were thinking the play called was something totally different.
 
You see that stuff in the preseason and to a certain extent in the regular season for a lot of teams. It is in those moments that we’re reminded that this Boston Celtics team is a work in progress on so many levels.
 
Because of that, we all need to hit the pause button when talking about them as a team inching closer towards Eastern Conference supremacy.
 
After the first month of the season, they have yet to show that they are going to be better than last season’s 48-win ball club.
 
The big problem a year ago was the offense bogging down and for the most part, not making shots. This year, it’s the team’s defense that has let them down on many nights.
 
And with that comes a sobering reminder this crew is good, but at best are maybe top-five in the East.
 
As a team on the rise, beating teams you’re not supposed to has to happen with some semblance of regularity.
 
There were only three teams on the Celtics’ docket this season thus far that they should have been beaten by without there being any argument: Golden State, San Antonio and Cleveland.
 
They were beaten in all three, two of which (Golden State and Cleveland) had final scores that did not indicate the level of dominance they had over the Celtics.
 
The average margin of defeat in the three games was 9.3 points, but two of them (San Antonio and Golden State) were at the TD Garden, which is supposed to be the equalizer for upset-minded teams.
 
But in each game, Boston put up a decent fight only to fail to emerge victorious.
 
The struggles against the upper echelon teams of the NBA has nothing to do with not having a superstar or a great rebounder or any of the kazillion reasons/excuses offered up as to why they’re not better.
 
It’s hunger.
 
It’s effort.
 
It’s about being blinded by the internet clicks that tout them as one of the best teams in the East, and them not seeing the danger that comes with embracing all that patting on the back.
 
It makes you soft.
 
It makes you fat and happy.
 
And maybe most significant, it creates a false sense of arrival before you’ve left the tarmac.
 
That’s where the Boston Celtics are right now: a team that seems to have forgotten why they were the team nobody wanted to play last year.
 
It wasn’t that teams feared playing them. It was the fact that they knew playing the Celtics would be tough, and it would force them to play a lot closer to their full potential than they were used to if they wanted to win.
 
It was because everyone knew that to beat the Celtics, you don’t have a choice but to play hard because you damn well knew they would.
 
Not anymore.
 
They bring that toughness to the game in small doses, like an intra-venous drip full of hope and promise, providing just enough to life to keep their fans optimistic but not nearly enough to kill the noise of their haters and critics.
 
And while the season is still young, the Celtics need to start racking up some quality wins.
 
Right now, their most impressive win is a toss-up between beating Charlotte 104-98 on Oct. 29, or a 94-92 win at Detroit on Nov. 19.
 
Boston plays at Orlando on Wednesday, a team that’s likely to be back in the lottery again. But after that, they travel back to Boston where they’ll host Toronto -- a game that they desperately need to not only to pad their win total but also provide a much-needed boost of energy and confidence going forward.

The Celtics have to find that hunger, that collective desire that we’ve seen in the past which has propelled them to greater heights than we’ve seen thus far.
 
Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford… you can go down the roster and the mission for all of them has to be the same: play harder, for longer, and be smarter about it, because this team has too much collective talent to be just three games above .500.
 
At 12-9, Boston is third in the East and trail conference-leading Cleveland by three games for the best record in the conference. But then you look at the teams behind the Celtics and realize that they’re only two games out of having the ninth-best record in the East.
 
It speaks in part to the season still being in its infancy stage. But it’s also telling as to how Boston does not have a huge margin of error when it comes to losing winnable games.
 
And as we’ve seen thus far, the Celtics can play with any team in the NBA and hold their own.
 
But beating them is a totally different narrative that this squad has yet to write.