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Celtics Notebook

Allen will need offseason surgery

Injured Celtics guard Ray Allen came onto the floor as the team prepared to pose for its annual photo.

Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Injured Celtics guard Ray Allen came onto the floor as the team prepared to pose for its annual photo.

Ray Allen revealed Saturday that he will need offseason surgery to remove bone spurs from his right ankle, the same procedure he underwent in 2007 on both ankles just months before joining the Celtics.

Allen missed the last nine games of the regular season and is questionable for Sunday’s Game 1 of the first-round series against the Hawks. He had a cortisone shot Thursday but said he is only delaying the inevitable.

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“I know it’s weak, but I still have pain in it,’’ said Allen. “It feels better. If I could, I would get surgery tomorrow. If it was the beginning of the season, I would have surgery.

“It’s just inevitable, talking to a couple of different doctors.”

Call to glory days

Ubuntu is back. The word emerged as a rallying cry for the Celtics in their 2007-08 championship season and remained a part of their vocabulary until this season, when coach Doc Rivers nixed it.

“We had too many new guys,’’ Rivers said.

So for most of the season, when the Celtics concluded a workout, they met in a huddle with arms raised and hands together, saying, “Celtics’’ in unison. Now, when the hands go up, the chorus is, “ubuntu,’’ as in the previous four seasons.

Ubuntu has African origins and refers to “humaneness,’’ or “sense of solidarity,’’ according to the website isiZulu.net. The Celtics’ adoption of it as a theme coincided with the 2007 arrival of Allen and Kevin Garnett, plus part-time assistant coach Thierry Kita Matungulu, who is from Cape Town.

Ubuntu also describes a way of life in South Africa, an intangible feeling of common cause. Rivers believes the Celtics’ newcomers are now getting it. And Garnett has been advocating for its revival.

“Kevin understands it best,’’ said Rivers. “He’s the one who was pitching for it all year. And I told him no, I wouldn’t allow it. I didn’t think we were there yet - until about a month ago.’’

Keeping it close

Rajon Rondo led the league in assists (11.7 per game) but he also has been concentrating on limiting turnovers (3.6 per game) in preparation for the first-round playoff series against the Hawks.

“We can’t turn the ball over,’’ Rivers said. “They are great in transition. They like the three, and we have to guard both.

“They spread the floor and try to take you off the dribble. That’s one of our weaknesses and one of their strengths. That’s why all the games are close against them, so we have to do a better job.’’

This season, the Celtics took victories by scores of 79-76 and 88-86 in overtime over the Hawks and lost to Atlanta, 97-92.

Bench marks

The Celtics will be counting on Mickael Pietrus to defend against the Hawks’ reserves, who are led by Tracy McGrady and Marvin Williams.

“Their bench, I think, may be the key to the series,’’ Rivers said. “When their bench plays well, they don’t lose. They have a lot of guys who can score off their bench.

“Our bench is good. With Pietrus back, we can match up a little better if they do go with what we call a ‘small big’ lineup [Joe Johnson, McGrady, and Williams].’’

Rivers said the Celtics will not attempt to slow things down and turn the game into a steady half-court battle.

“They’re a great trapping team,’’ Rivers said. “But you’ve got to be careful. If you think you’re going to post them and win, I think you’d be kidding yourself. If you look at their stats against post teams, they’ve done extremely well, because teams focus on that so much they lose the game. So we can’t do that.

“That’s an area we want to attack through our regular motion - but if you get caught doing that [posting up] too much, they’ll beat you.’’

No rest for them

The Celtics were faithful to their plans to pace Garnett, who averaged 31 minutes per game, never staying in for longer than 41:03.

“I don’t worry about minutes in the playoffs,’’ Rivers said. “I don’t want Kevin to go 40 minutes. But, now that the playoffs are here, rest is out the window.’’

Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at f_dellapa@globe.com.
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