Tighter schedule won't have Allen bent out of shape
The Celtics season is only four games old, but it already has had its share of disappointment and uncertainty as coach Doc Rivers adjusts to a new cast of characters coming off the bench.
But there is one constant in the lineup.
Each night Allen is there, doing what is necessary. In the Celtics’ 96-85 home-opening win over the Pistons Friday night, Allen’s line was predictable - 17 points, 4 assists, and a steal in 29 minutes - if down a little from the 21 points and 36 minutes he averaged in the first three games, all Boston losses.
With the Celtics facing a compressed schedule and an intense travel itinerary, the question of conditioning is bound to come up, especially for a player who turned 36 in July.
But Allen isn’t a concern for Rivers.
“That’s like the sunset,’’ said the coach with a laugh. “I don’t know anybody in the league who is in better condition than Ray. I don’t know how he does it.
“He plays golf all day in the summer, but then he will go to the gym and work out. If he plays 36, at the end of the day he still goes to the gym.
“It’s a great example for young kids. He does what he wants, but then he still goes to the gym.’’
Allen says his mind-set was firm all summer and fall, despite not playing basketball.
“Those mental tug-of-wars I had with myself - you know, when we got the bad news that the season is not going to start - there is something in your mind that said, ‘Maybe I will lay back a little,’ ’’ said Allen. “But that’s not my lifestyle.
“I try to create a habit of always working out. Just taking care of yourself is what I’ve always done.
Allen remembered the lockout in 1999 when some veteran players came into training camp out of shape.
“I saw that,’’ said Allen, “and I said, ‘Don’t be that guy.’ I want to be the guy on the other side. Even if I weren’t playing basketball, I’d still be working out.’’
When the season was supposed to begin and there were no games, Allen had a choice.
“Normally, I would be playing basketball in November,’’ he said. “I would be playing instead of sitting home.’’
Now he is into a season that will have quick road trips with little time in between, and more back-to-backs than usual. One of those back-to-backs begins today when the Celtics face the Wizards in Washington; tomorrow, the teams play a rematch at TD Garden.
“We’ve played four games,’’ said Allen. “You say to yourself, ‘Have I done enough today?’ You never let go of that feeling that there is more to do. There are so many things you can do improve.’’
Allen feels things will improve for the Celtics. The return Friday night of captain Paul Pierce from a heel injury was a start. The Celtics will get into the flow with an assortment of newcomers in backup roles to Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett, and Allen, who are still the core of a team that has ambitions of extending this shortened season well into June.
And while there are few certainties, one is like the sunset that Rivers used as a reference.
Ray Allen will be there.
Mark Blaudschun can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.