Doc Rivers didn’t seem like he had any real medical basis for his belief. Boston’s head coach has spoken several times over the past week or two about the growing concern surrounding Ray Allen’s ankle. But when asked whether uncertainty about Allen’s status made it all the more important that the team’s backup wings performed admirably last night in extended minutes, Rivers ultimately express a small measure of confidence in his sharpest shooter’s health.
“It helps, it doesn’t really matter that they were successful today. They have to be ready by Saturday or Sunday, clearly,” Rivers said. “I think Ray will be ready. I don’t know that. I do think he’ll be ready. But if he’s not, someone else has to be.”
If Allen cannot go in the playoffs, the Celtics will turn to a rag-tag group of has-beens and haven’t-been-yets to fill in the additional playing time — Sasha Pavlovic, Keyon Dooling, Marquis Daniels and/or E’Twaun Moore would all need to be ready each night. While each has had his moments this season, especially Pavlovic, whose pleasant surprise of a season culminated last night, when he decided to take over the fourth quarter of a tie game which the Celtics needed to keep their hopes of home court advantage alive, Allen is by far the best scoring threat of those who don’t normally reside in the starting lineup. He’s also, if healthy, Boston’s best play-making threat off the bench.
It’s scary to ponder life without Allen entering the playoffs. The Celtics have survived — thrived, even — without him, but at some point their bench will need a jolt of scoring. Is anybody else capable of providing that on a nearly-consistent basis? Can Mickael Pietrus find the hot hand in the postseason? Can Pavlovic re-enter the zone he found last night? Can Boston really succeed in the playoffs if Allen doesn’t return and the bench includes a bunch of solid vets, but nobody who can really create any offense?
Before the game last night, Rivers made an odd statement that E’Twaun Moore would impact Boston’s playoff run. Moore has spent most of his season accumulating splinters and DNP-CDs, but Rivers gave the rookie a vote of confidence while discussing who would benefit most from last night’s additional playing time against the Heat last night.
“Looking at some of the things we do execution-wise, it doesn’t matter that the other guys aren’t playing. Some of the guys need to play. Ryan Hollins — he’s probably going to help us at some point. Sean Williams needs to play,” Rivers said. “E’Twaun [Moore], which no one talks about, he’s going to play in the playoffs somewhere and help us in a game. So minutes for those three guys in particular are really important.”
At the time, it seemed like Rivers’ quote on Moore might be directly related to Allen’s injury status. Why else would we ever expect Moore to see action during the postseason? But then Rivers said he expects Allen ready for the playoffs. Though I now can’t help but wonder when Moore will suddenly rise like a phoenix from the bench, the important thing is that Allen is expected to be healthy for the playoffs –even if Doc didn’t seem at all cocksure in his belief.