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Celtics notebook

Performance gets him Tony award

Allen takes a bow for stifling James

By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / May 14, 2010

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He was already LeBron James’s unofficial stalker, but in last night’s 94-85 series-clinching win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Celtics’ Tony Allen made it his duty to be Rajon Rondo’s personal running partner.

In the second quarter, James was hiding in the corner away from the action, waiting, as it turned out, for Delonte West to throw him a lob for an alley-oop.

West sent the pass, but Allen made sure the ball never made it into James’s hands. He intercepted it, then gave it to Rondo to start the break, then sprinted up the floor behind Rondo, who found Allen for an easy layup that made it 33-23.

Allen was havoc personified for 26 minutes. He finished with 10 points, 3 steals, and 2 rebounds, far from the triple-double James put up, but exactly what the Celtics needed.

“That’s my role on this team,’’ Allen said. “I’ve got to be just as aggressive as he is. For the most part, I took that challenge. He still had a great night offensively all around. My whole thing is to contain him and listen to my bigs in transition.’’

Allen was part of the committee that had to somehow make the two-time league MVP look human. As he has all season, Allen embraced the job.

“At the end of the day, everybody has a role,’’ Allen said. “[Coach] Doc [Rivers] said before the game, ‘Do your role and do your role 100 percent.’ Everybody took that challenge, and we were fortunate enough to get that win.’’

Wear and tear
Ryan Paganetti and Andrew Daskalakis had seats behind the basket near the Cavaliers bench, in plain view of James.

Paganetti, a 17-year-old Bedford native, wore a custom-ordered New Jersey Nets jersey with James’s name and the No. 6, which James will wear next year. Daskalakis was wearing a New York Knicks jersey — same name, same number.

They were Celtics fans with a plan.

“We were just trying to think of something we could distract LeBron with,’’ Paganetti said. “If we could disrupt him, maybe we could help Boston.’’

Every time James stepped to the free throw line the Garden serenaded him with chants of “New York Knicks,’’ a reminder that this could be the last game he plays with the Cavaliers, should James opt out of his contract this summer.

“That was probably the loudest chant,’’ Ray Allen said. “I was sitting on the bench during one of them, and I told Glen [Davis], I said, ‘There’s no way he can make this free throw.’ That is pressure when you step up. It’s not like he doesn’t hear it and his teammates don’t hear it. That’s the beauty of playing in the Garden.’’

Coming into focus
The Celtics had convinced themselves that they were a team built for the playoffs and that no matter how much they struggled, they would be ready by the postseason.

Rivers said part of the difference is that the nature of the postseason — one opponent for up to two weeks — forces players to sharpen their focus.

“During the playoffs I think it’s easier to be consistent in some ways. It’s easier to get the best out of your guys because it’s one team, one focus,’’ he said.

Magic next
Rivers said before last night’s clincher there was one team hoping to see the Celtics and Cavaliers go seven games, the Orlando Magic, but they didn’t get their wish.

The Celtics will be at Orlando Sunday for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. The game is at 3:30 on Ch. 5. The remainder the series is on ESPN, each start at 8:30 p.m.

■Game 2 — Tuesday at Orlando

■Game 3 — May 22 at Boston

■Game 4 — May 24 at Boston

(if necessary) ■Game 5 —May 26 at Orlando

■Game 6 — May 28 at Boston

■Game 7 — May 30 at Orlando

Tickets, please
A limited amount of Celtics’ playoff tickets for Games 3, 4 and 6 against the Magic at TD Garden are on sale today at noon by visiting celtics.com, calling 1-800-4NBA-TIX (800-462-2849), or at the TD Garden box office. There is a four ticket limit.

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