Allen on D&H: ‘So much room for improvement’
|04.12.10 at 2:17 pm ET|
Celtics guard Ray Allen joined Dale & Holley on Monday to discuss the team’s outlook as the C’s prepare for the playoffs to start next weekend.
The Celtics have been wildly inconsistent in their play this season, and that was no more evident than last week when they followed up a big win over Cleveland with losses to the Knicks and Wizards (with a win over Toronto sandwiched in between). The ugly display against Washington on Friday did not please fans at TD Garden, who booed the Green for their lackluster effort.
“It’s disappointing anytime your home fans boo,” Allen said. “Obviously, nobody on the team wants to lay an egg out there on the floor. It snowballed in the wrong direction. I remember being in the game and it was tied and I came out, and before you know it they went on a run and were making shot after shot and we just couldn’t make a bucket.”
Allen was asked about the high expectations for this team, as the Celtics have had harsh critics all season long despite winning 50 games. He said that in sports, players always think they can do things better. “Even in ’08 when we won 15 games in a row it was like, ‘Well what do we do next?’ And we just keep working and focusing on the process that we are going through and get better,” Allen said. “Even at 50 wins we are really thinking that there is so much room for improvement. Each guy can get better. But there is never room for disenchantment or for anybody to be discouraged. Especially fans and the media, we have an uphill battle for us. Even if we won 60 games it would be an uphill battle [in the playoffs].”
Allen also was asked about the unity of this team, with constant mentioning of team meetings and reports throughout the season questioning the team’s desire. He said that this squad is even closer than the ’07-08 title team, “but the complexity of guys change and I don’t make excuses for anybody, but I know [Rajon] Rondo even more now and I know Kevin even more now. So we are getting to know each other and everybody has each other’s back.”
A full transcript of the interview is below. To listen, click here.
At the beginning of the year Doc Rivers got rid of shootarounds. Has this new system been comfortable for you?
For me, I get up pretty early anyway. Some days when we didn’t have shootarounds I was up taking the kids to school, so I was always up anyway and it didn’t really make a difference for me one way or another. I think we all felt the same way; everybody on the team was on the same page. And body-wise we all had to find a new routine or new rhythm. I know Doc was taking responsibility but for us we take responsibility just as much because we still have to go out there and play when the game starts.
We talked to you early in the season about all the trade rumors. But now with the deadline well past, how do you assess this season? It has been pretty interesting I’m sure.
Guys, that is part of the NBA business I believe. Every step of the way throughout the year you are dealing with some type of situation or scenario, whether it is All-Star Weekend, the trade deadline, or the playoffs. It is just typical business. For me, I have been in this situation before when I was in Seattle. I was in the last year of my contract and they were discussing whether I was going to be traded. So I’d dealt with it before; it wasn’t anything that was new to me. What people were assuming was that it was bothering me, which it didn’t because I have been in basketball long enough to understand how it goes. I knew coming into the season that my contract was very attractive to a lot of teams that wanted to jump into the free agency pool this summer. So that is just part of it. To me, if you look at what we are doing if you are ever around our practice facility — it was unfortunate that Eddie House got traded, we hate to see him go — but nobody talked about it. We didn’t worry about it. Once we were in the locker room we just did our job.
You said it didn’t bother you, but did it bother your family? Did they say, “We don’t want to get traded.”
No, not once. My wife, she is a special, special woman. We talked about it and we even talked about next year. She said if I got sent to Alaska to play basketball she is going with me. Regardless of where I go, she is not in it for where I am or what I am doing, she is in it for me and for the kids. I always knew that I had that support so regardless of where I go we are going to be fine and we are going to be taken care of.
Friday night was about as ugly as I have seen it, at least since the Big Three has been here and the fans sort of let you have it. I read some comments from KG but what did you think about it?
It’s disappointing anytime your home fans boo. Obviously, nobody on the team wants to lay an egg out there on the floor. It snowballed in the wrong direction. I remember being in the game and it was tied and I came out and before you know it they went on a run and were making shot after shot and we just couldn’t make a bucket. We had good looks and shots went in and out and it just steamrolled in the other direction for us. I hate seeing that; it is frustrating to be a part of, but the one thing I would say is it’s so much easier for us when the fans encourage us to get on a good foot and keep it moving and turn it around. Just encourage us to keep going and turn things around. Booing’s hard [to take], but at the end of the day, we have to go out and do our job. We have to worry about what we need to do for ourselves personally and for our team.
It seems that lately many of what Doc calls the 50-50 balls have gone the other way. Can you see here, at least in the minds of the fans, where effort can be questioned?
I know each of the guys and I know how bad each one of these guys wants it and how much work we put into it to prepare for games. We just sometimes have to be less tentative on the floor and just attack. In games like that we have had a passive mentality. I don’t know what for, but we have great talent on the team and we have guys that work hard and want it bad enough. I just believe that once we step out there and just do it and don’t worry about looking over your shoulder and whether you are coming out of the game or whether the other guy has a hot hand — we just have to attack. That is why I never get discouraged. You can always get the next play and make that next play better.
How do you feel about team meetings and players only meetings? It seems like you guys have done a lot of talking and thinking and analyzing yourselves this year.
It is always interesting. We did the same thing last year, guys. This year it hasn’t been any more, but now I guess more wants to be talked about. Kevin [Garnett], myself and Paul [Pierce], last week we just hung out in Boston after a game and there was a lot said about that like, “We had a team meeting.” And we didn’t have a team meeting, it was just us hanging out. But that happened last year and the year before. It is a long season; you’ve got to blow off steam and do different things. But people see things and they want to talk about, ‘Oh, we had a team meeting on the plane or in the locker room.’ We have done that since I have been here. I don’t question it or overthink or worry about it. When you are part of a team — Doc said something to us about a month ago which makes a lot of sense. He said that, ‘As a team, you guys have to do a better job of touching each other more and not feeling sensitive or uncomfortable about it. Just touch your teammate and let him know that you are there and you’ve got his back.” That is something that we have to subscribe to.
It doesn’t appear that ubuntu is alive and well on this team. Are there are factions here or problems on this team that prevent it from having the unity we saw in 2008? Do you think the team is as close as it was in ’07-08?
We are closer. If you reflect back on the team in ’07, we have a lot of guys now that in comparison to then have kids. So you are not spending as much time together, not that that is a reasonable excuse. But the complexity of guys change and I don’t make excuses for anybody, but I know [Rajon] Rondo even more now and I know Kevin even more now. So we are getting to know each other and everybody has each other’s back.
For all of the s0-called “struggles” of this team, you guys have won 50 games with two left. In some ways, you are almost the victim of your own success where 50 wins doesn’t seem as big a deal as it used to.
Well, I think that is sports and that’s life. I look at the great things that have happened to me in my life time and I look at the bad things and we have a tendency to take for granted the great things that happen because we almost expect them. For me I say let the good times continue to roll no matter how they roll in. But if you look at the Lakers on the other side of the country they are in some dismay now because they are talking about how they are not playing as well as they would like and they are struggling and all those things are going wrong because they set the bar for themselves high as well. In sports you always think that you can do things a little bit better. You can do more and players can be better — you can get an extra rebound or an extra point. There is always something. For us, we wouldn’t be at the top of our game if we didn’t find a way to get better. Even in ’08 when we won 15 games in a row it was like, ‘Well what do we do next?’ And we just keep working and focusing on the process that we are going through and get better. Even at 50 wins we are really thinking that there is so much room for improvement. Each guy can get better. But there is never room for disenchantment or for anybody to be discouraged. Especially fans and the media, we have an uphill battle for us. Even if we won 60 games it would be an uphill battle. Playoffs are not easy for us; you think about being in that building for another two months to win a championship and it is not easy for anybody, but the reward in the end is what we are all playing for.
This is a veteran team with championship experience in some cases. Do you feel confident when the playoffs come next week you guys can flip that switch?
You guys ask me questions that to me, at the end of the day, that is the only choice we have. We are going out to play basketball and our basketball lives depend on it. Getting out there and forcing what we need to be going on out there as a team and as individuals — yeah, things are not always going to go our way for us. We know that we are going to be in some precarious situations out there on the floor whether it is defense or offense, whatever it is. But that is the playoffs. Each team is here for a reason and each team has players that are getting paid and want to win a championship. That is the beautiful thing about it. It is a competition and we want to be better and fight harder than any other team.
If you go to the office of any NBA GM they could probably give you stats on shooting guards in their 30′s. But I look at your numbers and you are playing well at 34. Do you do anything differently then you did when you were 24 or 25?
No, I don’t do anything different now. I have never been a big hangout guy when we travel or even at home. Now more so than ever I relax even more. You think about the things that really make your body feel great, which is getting massages obviously and getting the proper amount of sleep. I believe now more so than ever my body is at the positive side of the spectrum even more than when I came into the league because I don’t drink and I’m not hanging out a lot. So in the summertime I am not getting too out of shape and it doesn’t take much to get back into shape when the season starts. So right now I am playing from all those great days when I took care of my body early in my first five or six years in the NBA and it is coming back to me now. I have a better grasp of the direction I’m moving in and how I want to feel and how I want to look. We talk about ages, you look at Jason Kidd and he is still being productive in Dallas. Just being able to play at the level he is playing at, sometimes you can’t be a number on it. You can’t put a face on it, you just have to judge it by each individual because there are always anomalies in society.
You look thinner and more svelte coming into this season. Did you do anything different this year?
Yeah, because you guys know two years ago I was fat and I had to cut it down. In September when I was in Connecticut, and I have done this in the past, but this time I ratcheted it up more. I really burned a lot more just running and treadmill stuff harder than what I have done in the past. For whatever reason once I hit the gym — and I had been doing this all summer — but once I got into September I really turned it up where each morning I was in there really burning a lot of calories and I got my body fat down pretty low then. So once I hit training camp my body was ready for it and as thin as I already was I dropped a tremendous amount of body fat early. Sometimes it is not good to be so low, but at least I knew conditioning-wise I was in a pretty good place. I was prepared and my body was ready to deal with anything that was thrown my way.