Game 1 pregame: Ray Allen remains in the starting lineup
|05.28.12 at 12:44 pm ET|
MIAMI — The Celtics honestly don’t know what to expect from Ray Allen on a game-by-game basis, but they’re not ready to make a change. Asked if he considered starting Mickael Pietrus ahead of Allen, coach Doc Rivers said, “No. We’re going to stay the way we are.”
Still, there is concern over Allen who was challenged defensively against the 76ers and will be facing a far-greater problem in guarding Dwyane Wade who scored 99 points in Miami’s final three games against the Pacers.
“It’s tough. Really, you don’t know,” Rivers said. “We don’t know game to game with him. We don’t know how he’s feeling, then we don’t know how he’s going to deal with it during the game. The way we coached him so far, is with the eye that’s how we have to coach him. We have to watch him. If we feel like he’s moving enough to help us, we keep him on the floor. If he’s not moving enough, then we take him off the floor.
“Then the second decision is, do we put him back on the floor. It’s every game — in Game 7, the argument our staff was having. ‘Take him off, take him out, bring him in.’ Honestly, it’s just luck sometimes. We left him in and he made two 3’s. But the hook was close, I can tell you that.”
Despite their injuries, the Heat are not overlooking the Celtics by any means.
“We understand the challenges we have ahead of us,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “They have championship experience. You can not discount that. They’ve proven that in the last two series, everyone was counting them out. They’re exactly where they want to be. Everybody counting them out and claiming that they’re this or they’re that. They’re not. That’s how they’ve been able to win. They grind games. They do it with their defense and they do it with timely offense.”
RONDO THE X-FACTOR
There’s no question that Rajon Rondo has the attention of the Heat as they prepare for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. In three games against the Heat this season, Rondo has averaged 18.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 13.7 assists, including a triple double in a win at the Garden on April 1.
“Everyone talks about how he’s he an X-factor. His greatness is his unpredictability,” Spoelstra said. “He’s a game changer. Probably more than anything he recognizes the time. He recognizes whatever the team needs at the appropriate time, and that could be anything. You can’t predict. It could be a defensive play, a steal, a rebound, an offensive rebound, a 3-pointer when you don’t think he’s a shooter. It could be breaking you down off the dribble. It could be finding any of those Hall of Famers for a wide open shot, but he transcends a definition of a point guard. What he is, is a winner.”
Heat guard Mario Chalmers said the Heat have a couple of different strategies for defending Rondo, but he also said that Rondo’s unorthodox game is a challenge.
“You never know when he’s going to shoot,” Chalmers said. “You have to be ready for whatever he does.”
NO TIMETABLE ON CHRIS BOSH
Much was made of Chris Bosh‘s workout on Sunday when reporters observed Bosh performing drills and shooting free throws with assistant coach Keith Askins and team president Pat Riley in attendance. Bosh has been out of the lineup since suffering an abdominal strain in Game 1 of their playoff series with the Pacers. He did more work on Monday but the Heat are not putting a timetable on a possible return.
“If you’re curious about Chris, he did the next step in the progression of his rehab,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “There still is not a timetable. It was a very light workout on the court. It was more of a progression of a rehab than it was a basketball workout, but I can see how it would be interpreted differently.”
Pressed further, Spoelstra tried to downplay his recent activity.
“I wouldn’t over-read into his workout yesterday,” the coach said. “We’ll continue to reevaluate every day. He’ll continue to do his rehab. When he starts legitimate basketball work I’ll pay attention a little bit more.”
Bosh or no Bosh, the Celtics know they have their hands full guarding Wade and LeBron James.
“In some ways, obviously Bosh makes them better, in some ways, you can say they are more dangerous,” Rivers said. “Those 15 shots that Bosh had, they are going to Wade and LeBron. In some ways, they have the ball more, they are more aggressive, it almost activated them to be more aggressive. Which puts a lot of stress on the defense.”
As for the Celtics’ own injuries, Rivers said:
“We don’t care. We’ve talked about it all year. I think we have as much experience with it as anyone. Our guys don’t care. They understand and we feel bad when guys go out, somebody else steps up.”
C’S AS UNDERDOGS?
Call them whatever you want, the Celtics are way past labels, but if the pressure is on Miami in this round, then that’s fine too.
“I never look at it that way,” Rivers said. “The answer would be, ‘I don’t know.’ We don’t look at ourselves as anything but combatants. We tell our guys, you can call us what want, but we’re going to come play, regardless. That’s the way we look at ourselves. How everybody else looks at us, that’s up to them.”