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To answer this question actually begs another question all together: Tony Allen or Ray Allen down the stretch? Now I’m not talking about who should get starters minutes (30-40) versus who should get reserve minutes (12-18).
I’m talking about who do you go with in the end of the second quarter, the start of the third quarter, and the close of the fourth quarter—the clutch moments when El D-Wade will attempt to make some offensive pushes?
After what we have seen in Tony against El Heat and in the last couple of weeks, it’s got to be Tony Allen. It’s obvious: our defense will win this series against El Heat, not our “over-powering” offense.
The priority here is DEFENSE. As the suspended KG said, “… the defense is our backbone.” (referencing the sweet NBA auto-tune commercials!)
Even if he was talking about the 2008 team, this 2010 team isn’t built around outscoring opponents because they’re a transition team that explodes on the break and counts on making use of a compounded amount of possessions.
On the contrary, we have a half-court set offense that relies on lots of screens and smooth ball movement to look for high percentage shots. When you’re a half-court set offense, you need your defense to be even better because when you’re old and slow and pick-n-roll bound, you can believe the other team is going to turn the game into a track meet and run.
I’m not claiming that Tony Allen needs to start over Ray Allen. I’m not saying that Tony Allen deserves to play more minutes than Ray Allen.
But what I am saying is the same damn thing I have been saying for the last three years: Doc, you got to play whoever is playing well. Right now, TA is playing well. Make him lose the privilege of minutes of screwing up by playing him more: if he plays more and plays well, then you’ve got your answer and if he plays more and screws up, bench him! It’s simple…
Doc’s loyalty is perhaps one of his greatest coaching strengths, and of course, one of his greatest coaching weaknesses.
It is ironic in the sense that Tony has climbed his way out of Doc’s Doghouseby by being prepared to step in and be as efficient, effective , and energetic as possible when given his time on the floor…because Doc’s loyalty got him BACK on the floor but now his loyalty to Ray is the same thing that is PREVENTING TA from getting more minutes.
Why Tony makes sense in this series during the CLUTCH moments when El D-Wade will attempt to take over games (end of the second quarter—one last push before the half when all the starters are back in; start of the third quarter after coaches and players have a chance to reassess and reshift the game plan; end of the fourth quarter when crunch time begins) in three easy-to-follow steps:
1. The simple reason: Tony Allen is a better defender than Ray Allen and has proved his might against El D-Wade. I’m not going to say TA has his number, but he makes El-D-Wade work hard for his points. That’s all we can ask for.
2.In the win against El Heat on February 3, TA made that game-sealing steal on El D-Wade to protect a lead and give the Celtics a 107-102 edge. We know El D-Wade is a big-time competitor, which means he also has a big-time ego.
Why not stick TA on him and let El D-Wade want to prove that he can score on Tony all day? Why not let El D-Wade try to take over the game and in the process, completely break down his team’s offense? Like so many other teams, give D-Wade his points but make him work his tail off to earn them. Let D-Wade score his 30-40 points…on 25 FG attempts. Just make sure TA is in his jock the entire time so no basket comes easy.
3. El Heat play a zone defense, and a fairly effective one to boot. What’s the best way to beat a zone defense? Nail your outside shots or attack the rim and force the zone to break and shift. Which one yields higher percentage shots while at the same time sending the defense into disarray? Attacking the hoop.
The Celtics have two great slashers on the team and the beautiful part is the fact that they can both be on the floor at the same time: Rondo and TA. Let them attack for layups and let them attack to kick out for either open shots or to move the ball around the perimeter like a passing drill. Ray can’t get to the hoop like TA. And yes, you’d be given an amazingly tight perimeter defenders in both Rondo and TA in the back-court.
Of course my theory should get thrown out with the weekly garbage if and only if one thing happens: Ray Ray catches on fire and literally just cannot miss. In this scenario, I still can’t say that I think it’s “an obvious choice” to go with Ray, because fundamentally I still believe that Tony has more value in this series than Ray for the reasons outlined above .
Even if Ray (the 2010 Streaky Shooter of the Year) does catch on fire, he’ll still have to guard El D-Wade. I’d much rather see Tony making it difficult for Wade and and not providing as much offensive fire-power than D-Wade and Ray going back and forth. We know who will come out on top of the back-and-forth. In case your memory has failed you in remembering what happens when Ray Ray guards El D-Wade:
We’ll see if Doc listens to me or not on Tuesday.