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Just routine nerves

Veteran Allen has ways to cope

By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / May 14, 2010

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Ray Allen can identify the nerves. The Celtics guard may be in his 14th NBA season, but the playoffs still spark a feeling in him that he has to work through before every game. It’s critical at this stage of the postseason.

In the days leading up to Game 6 last night, Allen said, he and his wife had a discussion about working through heightened situations and eliminating the tendency to panic.

“When we’re in tough situations, the one thing that you can rest on is the fact that you prepared for any situation that goes on,’’ said Allen. “I told her, Game 1 in Cleveland, I was nervous. I couldn’t breathe barely running out on to the floor because the situation was overwhelming. You’re starting the playoffs. Same thing going into Miami.’’

Allen is known for his meticulous preparation on game day, and during this postseason he has been among the leading contributors. He was averaging a team-best 18.3 points a game, while chipping in 3 rebounds and 3 assists a game.

To get through the uneasy feelings on game day, Allen uses the time before tipoff to make last-minute adjustments. Yesterday, Allen arrived at TD Garden just before 4 p.m. and was the only one on the floor taking shots.

“I get up more shots, run harder, try to get all of that bad wind out of me so I’m not worrying about my wind,’’ Allen said. “Then you go to preparation. Think about all the things you need to do, defensive schemes, offensive execution, all those things, so when you go out there, it’s second nature and you don’t worry about it.

“But when you do first go on the floor, you feel the atmosphere, you feel the sensation of the atmosphere growing, and you just tell yourself, ‘Run harder, do a little extra, don’t allow it to overwhelm you.’ ’’

This is the seventh time in his career Allen has played in the playoffs, and in the first round against Miami, he recorded his 1,600th career playoff point and 300th postseason assist. There have been times when he has struggled in the postseason, but the key is to not overthink the preparation process.

“You have to learn to clear your mind,’’ Allen said. “Everybody prepares differently but you do have to focus. Sometimes you just allow the time to pass and laugh and joke, have a good time and think about other things.

“If you think too much, you will go out and have some anxiety when you go out on the floor. It’s good to displace that a little bit.’’

Monique Walker can be reached at mwalker@globe.com.

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