Tony Allen: 'I don't see the same team from 2008'

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Tony Allen: 'I don't see the same team from 2008'

BOSTON -- Tony Allen reached behind himself and pulled out a folded number 42 Boston Celtics jersey from his stall in the Memphis Grizzlies visiting locker room at the TD Garden. The lower corner of the white uniform from the 2010 NBA playoffs was speckled in dark red.
"It's one of my jerseys they had," Allen said proudly. "It kind of almost brought me to tears today, but I had to hide it a little bit. There's blood on it, so you know I was scrapping with it."
Scrapping. It was part of Allen's all-out mentality he and the rest of the Boston Celtics embodied during their title runs, winning it all in 2008 and falling just short two years later in Game 7 of the NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Three seasons later, Allen was seated in a victorious Grizzlies locker room on Wednesday night. He scored 15 points to help hand the Celtics a 93-83 loss, dropping them to 14-17.
Allen has never doubted the drive of his former team.
"You can never test the heart of a champion," he noted.
But with only Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Rajon Rondo remaining from the 2008 title group, he also saw a different squad than the one he lifted the trophy with on the parquet.
The teams Allen played on had the type of depth that doesn't come together every season. From gritty perimeter defenders to sharpshooters to intimidating bigs in the middle, there were x-factors that jumped out to him.
"They're missing a lot of pieces," he said. "Obviously you've got a lot of guys that have fulfilled those roles, such as J-Terry (Jason Terry) in substitution of Ray (Allen). They've got one (defensive-minded guy), (Avery Bradley), but I can't really say that he's a hundred percent just yet. (Bradley returned from double-shoulder surgery against the Grizzlies.) I don't think they've got the center like Perk (Kendrick Perkins). It's kind of hard finding a guy like that, a guy who clogs up the paint, talks trash to you, and actually backs it up. But they're just missing a lot and I don't see the same team from 2008."
Allen believes a key to the Celtics success will be role players stepping up in doing whatever it takes to win. While the 2008 squad was headlined by future Hall of Famers, it was the entire team that pushed them to victory.
"They're missing a lot of their key pieces that they had," he said. "Those guys have to try to find a way because those other guys aren't here anymore, so once somebody steps up to those roles and holds themselves accountable and be those guys they're missing, that's when you'll get back to it."
"Boston has shown so many ways to win," he continued. "You take the year that we didn't get (James) Posey back. That following year, they put me in that position and we went all the way to Game 7. We lose Perk in the NBA Finals (and we almost won).
"Boston knows how to win."

Celtics-Heat preview: Do C's need to bounce back from a win?

Celtics-Heat preview: Do C's need to bounce back from a win?

BOSTON – The final score on the Jumbotron Friday night said the Celtics beat the Phoenix Suns 130-120.
 
But there was a clear and undeniable sense of loss on the part of the Celtics, even if Friday’s victory was their third in a row and sixth in the past seven games.
 
The Celtics (47-26) hope to continue on their winning ways tonight against a Miami Heat team currently among a handful fighting for one of the last playoff slots, but are doing so without Dion Waiters (ankle) who has been instrumental in their surge after an 11-30 start to the season.
 
Beating the Heat (35-37) will require Boston to play better than they did against the Suns, a game Boston won, but in many ways had the feeling of defeat.
 
Yes, Devin Booker’s career-high 70 points was very much a blow – a huge blow – to the pride of a team that takes tremendous pride in its defense.
 
But the sense of a loss came in the form of purpose while playing as close to their potential as possible.
 
The Celtics fell short on both fronts Friday night.
 
Being just one game behind Cleveland (47-24) for the best record in the East, the Celtics understand getting as many wins as possible is the mindset right now.
 
But coach Brad Stevens knows that while winning is important, how the team plays is even more valuable.
 
“Like I’ve said before, I’m surprised at where we are record-wise because we’ve got to play at a higher level for 48 minutes,” Stevens said. “We just don’t do it.”
 
Is this Stevens’ way of trying to motivate his players after a not-so-great performance?
 
Or is he seriously concerned that his team isn’t as good as their record?
 
The Celtics, by their own standards, and to those of us on the outside looking in, know they are a better team than the one we saw on Friday night.
 
Not having Avery Bradley (sick) certainly hurt Boston’s efforts defensively.
 
Still, a Friday night’s game wore on, Booker’s confidence only grew and the Celtics’ desire to shut him down or at least slow him down, began to dissipate like an ice cube in hell.
 
And that’s a problem - a big problem - for a team that has to be connected at both ends of the floor for an extended period of time in order to play at the level their capable of and, most important, give them the best shot at emerging victorious in the postseason.
 
That’s why Stevens isn’t too caught up in the team’s chances of catching Cleveland, or whether they go into the playoffs riding a fat winning streak.
 
“I’m not going to get caught up in winning a couple of games in a row and all that stuff,” Stevens said. “I want to get caught up in playing well. We’ve shown ourselves capable of playing well, we have not sustained it throughout a game. And it’s been pretty consistent.”
 

Win vs. Islanders 'a nice building block' for Bruins

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Win vs. Islanders 'a nice building block' for Bruins

BROOKLYN, NY – It wasn’t particularly entertaining and it won’t be all that memorable down the ride aside from the timing and importance of the meeting between the Bruins and Islanders. But it was a solid 2-1 team win for the Bruins over the Islanders at the Barclays Center on Saturday night with the B’s grinding all the way down to the end while protecting a one-goal lead through much of the third period.

Nearly everybody across Boston’s roster contributed in the major victory over the team trying to bypass them in the wild card standings, and it was a beautiful thing. Anton Khudobin stepped up when Tuukka Rask couldn’t start Saturday night’s showdown with a lower body issue, and Riley Nash supplied both Boston goals from a fourth line that’s played some of their best hockey lately.

It was unlikely heroes all around for the Black and Gold in the tightly-wound contest, but that diversity of talent and production can be a very good thing for a team looking to make that playoff push.

“You have to stay with it. You have to stay in the moment and stay with the game no matter what’s happening during the game. That’s how you get results, and that’s how you find ways to persevere through adversity,” said Patrice Bergeron. “We just got back to playing stingy, especially in the neutral zone. We got away from it the last few games, and it was nice tonight to be back playing a low-scoring game like what we’re used to playing.”

When it was all said and done the Bruins only allowed 19 shots on net and also killed off six penalties in the kind of grinding defensive showdown that you haven’t seen all that much out of the Black and Gold lately. It was exactly what Cassidy was looking for to snap the four-game losing streak, and once again start pushing the Bruins upward into the playoff chase.

“That’s the type of win that goes a long way in the room when your goaltender is battling hard and fighting that hard to see pucks and find pucks and your D are blocking shots. And you kill that many penalties. It was a nice building block for us,” said Cassidy. “From the goalie on out, everybody was in there [in the win]. It was a tough game. It was a nice Bruins win. We had been doing it with offense earlier, and we’ve got to be able to do it both ways. You need to be able to win 2-1 hockey games, and it had been awhile.”

Now it’s simply up to the Bruins to be feeling good about their latest win while going back to basics, and looking for more next time around after ending their worst losing streak of the season.