Ray Allen missed the final nine games of the regular season and the opening two playoff games because of bone spurs in his right ankle.
Allen slumped to a 3-for-7 free throw shooting performance in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against Miami. But he had converted nine successive tries since then entering Thursday night’s Game 6, including an 8 for 8 in the Celtics’ 94-90 win in Game 5 Tuesday in Miami.
Allen also has been effective rebounding.
“That’s just Ray doing whatever he can to help the team,’’ coach Doc Rivers said before Game 6. “I don’t appreciate his offensive rebound attempts, I can tell you that. Because, you know, this team, if you go for an offensive rebound and don’t get it, then you’re guaranteeing them a fast break. So, defensive rebounds have been terrific. And we want to keep stressing that.
“When we talk about team rebounding, we talk about it all year. There’s nobody on our team that we don’t hold accountable for not going to the defensive glass. We have to do it as all five. It’s always good when a guard gets a rebound because it gives us a chance to have a fast break, and he’s been great at it.’’
Rivers has a Game 7 approach from Game 5 on.
Asked about the perception of Thursday’s game as deciding the series either way, he replied, “Whatever it takes for our guys to have a sense of urgency, I’ll take it. Whatever it is, I’ll take it, so that’s terrific. If this game, your last home game this series - I don’t really care about it, at the end of the day we have to play. And whatever gets our guys going, if that’s it, then that’s great. But at the end of the day, they throw the ball up, all that stuff is forgotten. You have to compete, you have to execute, and you have to play hard.’’
Rivers on facing a Heat team that includes Chris Bosh: “It doesn’t affect us. We’ve been saying all year we don’t change our offense. He had a very good rhythm [in Game 5], I was surprised how good he looked, actually.
“We’ll go small at some point, I guarantee that. Bosh may be the only big at times on floor for them, too. Other guys, like [Shane] Battier will be at ‘4.’ That still allows us to go small. I won’t be surprised to see Bosh and [Udonis] Haslem on the floor, and that will give us the choice: Do we want to stay big or go small and see what we have? I always say in that situation, at least for us, the game will dictate.’’
With six minutes remaining in Game 5, Rajon Rondo had converted only one field goal, a lefthanded follow of his own miss. But Rondo then hit two key shots and directed the Celtics’ offense in a 22-12 closeout.
“That’s been a great area of growth,’’ Rivers said of Rondo’s composure. “One of Rondo’s biggest opponents is, Rondo is so hard on himself. He wants to be great every play, every possession. He has a couple bad moments and he gets down on himself and then he would have a bad seven minutes or a bad game. Now, he pulls himself out of it quicker. That’s growth.
“Fourth quarter, he made play after play. And it was a great example of him being resilient. At the end of the day, I always talk to the player, I talk to the staff, and all the credit goes to the player. At some point, he makes that decision and goes that direction.
“He’s emotional. I’d rather have emotion than low energy and have to get them started. If they’re emotional, they care, and I would rather have a bunch of those guys.’’
Greg Stiemsma has been chosen for the US select team that will train against the Olympic team.
“There’s not a lot of bigs out there,’’ Rivers said. “He’s put in the time, he’s such a team player, he’ll be terrific. He’s skilled. I’m just hoping his foot is healed. I think it’ll be a great experience for him.’’
Rivers on Celtics trainer Ed Lacerte: “He’s our MVP, we call him that all the time. When you go in that training room, it is packed. Even the guys who are quote-unquote healthy, they’re in there. Without him and his sense of pride, I guarantee there’s no way we’d be here.’’Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at email@example.com.