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Credit Doug Collins with making a defensive adjustment on Allen after devoting considerable energy to keeping him under wraps throughout the series. Instead of face guarding and trailing him aggressively off his screens, Philly treated him like an afterthought, yet Allen still shot 4-for-11 and made only one of five from behind the arc.
Allen’s value throughout the series has been the simple fact that he’s Ray Allen. With all that attention being paid, lanes were opened for Rondo to drive, Garnett to post and Brandon Bass to shoot. Allen strung together two solid games at the beginning of the series, scoring 29 points, but since then he’s shooting just 36 percent and is 3-for-14 on 3-pointers. If the Sixers continue that tactic in Game 7, Allen has a chance to turn in a vintage performance, but only if his body allows it.
“They allowed Ray to get loose and he just didn’t make shots,” Rivers said. “That will be good for Ray coming into the next game now that he knows that he’s going to get shots now. Hopefully he can get his feet under him and get some rhythm.”
If not, Rivers needs to find someone else to carry those minutes.
Ray Allen is my key to a Game 7 victory. Not an engaged Rajon Rondo. Not establishing Kevin Garnett in the post.
The 76ers are ignoring Ray Allen. Flat-out ignoring him so they can focus on Rondo, KG, Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass.
Ray is obviously hurting. I give him a tremendous amount of credit for playing through the pain. But he still needs to make shots. Just a handful to keep the defense honest and ease the pressure on the other four Celtics on the court.
I know Ray is a major liability on defense, but the team defense can overcome his individual shortcomings.
Just make shots.
Related link: Herald – Celtics caught off guard
On Page 2, the Sixers have little Game 7 experience.
“We’re going to be prepared,’’ vowed Williams, who knocked down some key shots down the stretch in Game 6 to foil any Celtics hopes of a comeback. “Obviously, it’s going to be a madhouse in Boston. But it’s one game.
“We feel like we have the same chance they have.’’
The only current Sixers who have played in a Game 7 are power forward Elton Brand and deep subs Sam Young and former Celtic Tony Battie.
“It’s going to be tough,’’ said Brand, who has played his best ball of the playoffs the last two games, at both ends of the floor. “They’ve been through it a few times. We haven’t.
“It’s going to be loud,’’ said Collins, who has never coached in a Game 7. “The other night [in Game 5], we got a little rattled during the third quarter.
“We can’t let that happen again. We can’t get away with dead minutes on the road. Not in a Game 7.’’
I'm fully aware the Celtics are battered, bruised and exhausted. But a loss in our house on Saturday night might kill me.
The rest of the links:
ESPN Boston – Celtics vs 76ers: Game 7 history lesson | Which Rondo will show up? | Globe – Their play is the thing | Celtics must make good use of their time | Herald – Garnett must get down low for Celtics to win | Young Sixers rely on endless confidence | Celtics know thy enemy well |
Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images