He's the one Celtic star you tend not to hear much about, even when he's playing well. The one who always seems to go overlooked. The one who just quietly takes the floor and does his job — very, very well.
He's Ray Allen. And on Thursday afternoon, Celtics head coach Doc Rivers had nothing but kind words to say about the way his 34-year-old shooting guard has played in this postseason. Not just offensively, but he's also been an unsung hero on the other end, stepping up to offer a helping hand defensively against Cleveland superstar LeBron James.
"He was good," Rivers said of Allen. "He was very good. Ray was so simple that he kept it within the team confines defensively."
While Paul Pierce has been the primary defender on King James in this series, he's needed plenty of help. There have been picks and screens that have kept Pierce off his man, and foul trouble has been a factor in keeping the Celtics' captain off the floor altogether.
When that's happened, Allen has accepted the challenge of taking on LeBron — just as he took in Dwyane Wade in the Celtics' first-round series against the Miami Heat. Allen has been candid but modest about the job.
"It's like the 'big dog, little dog' syndrome," Allen said. "The little dog is so bad because he thinks he's doing a great job and having a tough bark, but his big brother's behind him. When I'm guarding LeBron, and when I was guarding D-Wade, I'm feeling good about myself because I'm containing him, but what I know is happening behind me is I've got three, four guys standing there, and he's got nowhere to go. It takes a team. There's no one guy that's going to stop him."
On defense, Allen was a big reason that LeBron struggled Monday night in Game 2, putting forth a mediocre 7-of-15 shooting effort.
On offense, Allen just keeps hitting shots. He's made 14-of-29 in the first two games of this series, and 47-of-92 overall this postseason.
"Trust me, the other team appreciates what he does," Rivers said. "And we appreciate it. You know, even when he's not making shots, we appreciate it. Because there's somebody standing next to Ray all the time. One of the reasons [Rajon] Rondo is so good is that the more he drives on Ray's side, the more he's going to be open. Because they're not going to leave Ray. It gives him space."
Allen may not be making a lot of headlines, but perhaps it's best that way. Maybe it's best that he's the Celtics' secret weapon.
"Let's keep it that way," Rivers said. "Let's not talk about him. Let's talk about Danny [Ainge]'s fines."
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