Ray Allen has been a pillar of durability since joining the Boston Celtics in 2007, missing just 16 games during his first four seasons in Boston. Preparation and diligence kept Allen’s body younger than its age, and so history’s most prolific three-point shooter masked the ankle injuries that impacted the end of his Seattle Supersonics tenure.
Unfortunately for the Celtics, those balky ankles have become balky once more. Allen missed Boston’s past three games due to ankle issues, and Jackie MacMullan hinted on WEEI Tuesday that the ankles should require surgery at some point.
What does that mean for the Celtics now? Possibly nothing, if Allen can hold off the surgery long enough (and well enough) to remain playing and playing at a high level. But if Allen does require surgery or a longer period of rest, the Celtics will be left to fill the hole left by one of the world’s finest shooters.
Avery Bradley has started the previous two games and performed solidly, admirably, even career high-ably. But he’s made just three trifectas in his career, a pace that means he won’t catch Allen’s three-point total for another 902 more seasons. Bradley can’t come close to spacing the floor like Allen can, and his lack of size on the perimeter could cause problems for the Celtics against certain teams if he and Rajon Rondo are paired in the same back court. (The other side of that, of course, is that Rondo and Bradley could become the pressure-defense tandem from hell, and their quickness in the open court could pose serious issues for bigger back courts.)
Mickael Pietrus is Boston’s other option to take Allen’s minutes, or at least he will be whenever he returns from a concussion. The 6-foot-6 Pietrus provides better size at the shooting guard position, can defend two and sometimes three positions, and, like most humans with a heart beat, shoots from the perimeter at a better clip than Bradley. But moving Pietrus into the starting lineup would take away from Boston’s second unit, leaving Keyon Dooling as the only sharp-shooter coming off the bench — if you can call Dooling, he of the 28.6 percent three-point shooting and 38.2 percent field goal percentage, a sharp-shooter.
The Celtics, benefiting from Bradley’s solid play and two opponents who might not be favored against the Kentucky Wildcats, have been able to overcome Allen’s loss in recent days. But if he is forced to miss a long period of time, the ripples will be felt.