Game 4 may be a go for Allen
He’s optimistic after his return
Ray Allen played 37 minutes in the Celtics’ 90-84 overtime win over the Atlanta Hawks Friday night in his first appearance since April 10.
Allen received an enthusiastic ovation replacing Avery Bradley 7:20 into the game and scored on his first shot 32 seconds later. Allen would be the only Celtic to score in the final 5:57 of the opening quarter.
By the end of the contest, though, the Celtics were using Allen “as a decoy,’’ according to coach Doc Rivers. Allen had 13 points but was 0 for 4 on 3-pointers, including a shot-clock airball with the Celtics holding a 4-point advantage in overtime.
But Allen, who had missed 11 successive games with bone spurs in his right ankle, was optimistic about his chances of being available for Sunday’s Game 4.
“The last two or three days it’s probably been the best it’s been,’’ Allen said of his ankle. “I’m coming out thinking it’s going to be good tomorrow and it’s going to be even better Sunday.’’
Allen scored 9 points in 35 minutes in his last game, a 115-107 win at Miami.
“Now, it’s achy, it feels like it’s mad at me a little bit,’’ Allen said. “But I’m in a good place.’’
Before the game, Rivers said of Allen: “I think he just came to the conclusion that the pain’s not going to go away. He has to find a way to play with it and he has to find a way to be effective with it and, you know, he also probably accepts there may be a day or two he can’t play.
“And I think what everyone is trying to do is eliminate it so when he comes back he’s back. I don’t think we’re thinking in those terms anymore. We’re just going to go game in and game out and see how he goes.’’
This was the first time the Celtics presented an injury-free roster since early February.
Rondo comes alive
Rajon Rondo, returning from a suspension after making contact with referee Marc Davis in Game 1, had 2 points and five turnovers in the first half, but finished with 17 points, 14 rebounds, and 12 assists.
“Just a matter of timing,’’ Rondo said. “A lot of turnovers in the first half. I missed a couple of shots but my teammates believed in me and told me to keep going. I felt good about all the shots I took - I took a lot. My teammates told me to stay aggressive. I missed a lot of easy layups but the jump shots I usually try to take at the mid-range game, I accomplished them - I took them but I missed them. There’s going to be nights like tonight where I miss a lot of shots but I try to continue to fight through, continue to grind.”
Said Rivers: “I finally told [Rondo], ‘Just be a scorer, just attack.’ And I thought that freed him up a little bit.
“I thought he was not doing enough early. You know, when you come back, you do one of two things - you either do too much or you try to stay out of the way. And when you have a point guard you really don’t want him to stay out of the way, you want him to run the show. I just thought in the second half he had a better grasp on the play calls, he got back in the rhythm, he was calling the right sets on the floor. And in the first half he was searching for the right stuff to call and that made him tentative, as well.”
The Celtics had difficulty matching up with guard-dominated Hawk lineups, especially after losing Bradley (left shoulder) in the third quarter. Bradley is expected to be available for Game 4, according to a league source . . . The teams have now had two overtime games in six meetings this season. All the margins of victory have been in single digits, with the Celtics holding a 4-point cumulative advantage.
Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at email@example.com.