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Celtics notebook

Defenses are taking notice

Allen point totals are down lately

Avery Bradley scores 2 of his 8 points the high-percentage way, dunking one late. Avery Bradley scores 2 of his 8 points the high-percentage way, dunking one late. (Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff)
By Gary Washburn
Globe Staff / January 19, 2012
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Celtics guard Ray Allen posted four 20-plus-point games in his first seven contests this season, conjuring up memories of the vintage scoring he did in Milwaukee and Seattle. In the subsequent five games, Allen has been limited to 8.8 points per game and 8.8 shots per contest.

Although Allen always has been a target of opposing defenses because of his 3-point prowess, lately he has been blanketed by two defenders near the 3-point line, especially Monday night against Oklahoma City, when he attempted just seven shots and two 3-pointers in nearly 39 minutes.

Allen was scoreless in the first half in last night’s 96-73 win over the Raptors at TD Garden, and finished with 6 points on 2-of-7 shooting. In the past five games, he is shooting 16 for 44 from the field (36.3 percent).

“I don’t think they play me any different than they have played me,’’ he said before the game. “I know that they’re focused on keeping me from getting to my spots, but that’s always been the case. That’s no different.’’

Allen said his lack of shot attempts can be directly attributed to the Celtics’ lack of rebounding and defensive struggles, which limit fast-break opportunities.

“When we get to transition opportunities and we score in the fast-break situations obviously it’s because we got defensive stops,’’ he said. “It’s hard to get those stops if we’re not rebounding. But when we get those stops, we rebound and we run, still we’ve seen teams in the last two weeks, when we scored on them, they ran and scored back on us. That’s always a lesson for us.

“If I’m not open that means somebody is because they had to contribute another guy to me. That means Kevin [Garnett’s] open or Jermaine [O’Neal’s] open or [Rajon] Rondo is open on the kickback. I’d like to find ways to get easier looks and make sure I stay involved with what our offense is doing but sometimes coming off screens is good enough because we find the open guy.’’

Allen said he is trying to stay aggressive, and that there only has been one occasion this season when he has passed up an open 3-pointer.

“I think we’ve seen about every coverage you’re going to play [against Allen],’’ said coach Doc Rivers. “There’s only a certain amount of ways you can play him. There’s games he’ll get shots, but nothing’s changed.’’

Center stage

Team president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he is not concerned with the Celtics’ erratic production at center. O’Neal struggled to begin the season but recently posted his first consecutive double-digit rebounding games in two years.

After making a splash in the first few games, Greg Stiemsma has seen his playing time slashed dramatically. Chris Wilcox, signed to be a backup center, has scored 11 points all season because of nagging injuries.

“We haven’t really seen Chris yet but what we’ve seen from practice and training camp we liked what we saw,’’ Ainge said. “And Stiemsma, I think he’s got some holes in his game but he’s got some really good things that he brings to the table, too. I don’t think that’s the issue at all. I think the center position is the least of our issues.’’

With O’Neal picking up two quick fouls last night, Rivers brought in Stiemsma, who scored 2 points and had two rebounds in 14 minutes, his most extensive playing time in two weeks.

Dooling closer

Guard Keyon Dooling did not participate in shootaround. He did take the court, however, to take jump shots and work on some defensive drills, his first on-court action since injuring his right knee.

Dooling said the injury is to his medial collateral ligament but said he doesn’t know more specifics. Last night was the fourth game he’s missed with the injury. He wants to return tomorrow against the Suns.

“It’s frustrating because I want it bad, to be able to help the team,’’ he said. “[Tomorrow] is my target game, but I don’t know. Hopefully I’ll continue to progress. As soon as I’m able to play, I’ll play. If I’m able to move and slide my feet, I’ll play.’’

Dooling said he is able to run forward, but lateral movement is more difficult.

“A big part of my game is lateral quickness as far as defense,’’ he said. “If I can do that halfway decent, I should be ready to go.’’

Wilcox stalled

Wilcox did not participate in shootaround and may not be back tomorrow. He has missed the past three games with a strained left calf . . . Sasha Pavlovic was working out during the shootaround and appears at close to full health after battling a sore left wrist for most of the season. Pavlovic last appeared Jan. 6 against the Pacers . . . Toronto center Aaron Gray (heart abnormalities) made his season debut in the first quarter. He pulled down four rebounds in 19 minutes . . . Former UMass standout Gary Forbes led the Raptors with 18 points in 19 minutes. Forbes, an undrafted free agent who signed with the Nuggets last summer, was signed to an offer sheet by Toronto that Denver did not match . . . The Raptors’ former No. 1 overall pick, Andrea Bargnani, missed his fourth consecutive game with a strained right calf. Ed Davis started in his place.

Gary Washburn can be reached at gwashburn@globe.com.

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