Be careful when giving Tony Allen props. He might be asking you for a favor.
Allen held up his fist to a Celtics staffer in the locker room after tonight’s game, and the employee gave him a fist pound. Then Allen explained what he actually wanted the employee to do: Button his sleeve. You see, TA’s hands were full.
“I’ve got to get ready for these newsmen,” Allen joked as a crowd of reporters gathered around to interview him.
If he keeps contributing like he did tonight, the newsmen will be hanging around a little more often. Allen had 11 points and 3 rebounds in 17 minutes for the Celtics in his first audition to replace James Posey as the team’s sixth man. He also contributed to the defense that held LeBron James to 9-of-21 shooting.
“He was terrific,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “I thought he was terrific in the second half. I thought in the first half he had a great matchup that we liked, but he didn’t show any patience in getting to it. So he turned the ball over, took a couple rough shots. In the second half I thought he allowed the ball to get to him, he allowed our spacing to develop, and it gave him room.
“And we’re confident with Tony. We called that isolation with LeBron guarding him. I don’t care who’s guarding him, it’s tough to guard Tony Allen off the dribble. But it’s better when he has space and he can see things. And it was great. A great night for him. And he needed that.”
Recovery from a knee injury limited his effectivness last season, but Allen impressed in the preseason. If he can put it all together, he has a shot at replacing at least some of Posey’s production.
“He’s probably the same physically,” said Rivers. “It’s the mental part. Listen, I thought last year for Tony was very difficult. No. 1, when he plays more minutes he’s a better player. Well, we had Ray (Allen), Paul (Pierce), and Pose (James Posey). He didn’t get minutes. No. 2, he was fighting, trying to come back from an injury. So it was set up for him almost to struggle last year. And now that he’s healthy a year out and he’s getting playing time, I think he’ll be fine.”