Celtics coach Doc Rivers is considering sitting Ray Allen for a game, he told ESPN's Jackie MacMullan on Tuesday. Allen has suffered through bone spurs in his ankles since even before he missed a week and a half in late March to early April, and the pain has seemed to hamper him more and more as the playoffs have worn on. The problem is not likely to go away until Allen can have surgery to remove the loose bodies, but indications are that Rivers hopes some extended rest could at least help.
The rationale behind sitting Allen is straightforward. The NBA created an Eastern Conference Finals schedule that was unfriendly to the injury-ravaged Celtics. Not a single two-day break occurs in the series, even if it goes the full seven games. That means no extra 24 hours at any point for the Celtics to rest their weary bones. Giving Allen a game off would give him up to three days to engage in only the level of physical activity he felt capable of, and none of the grueling activity of a playoff game.
Whether the payoff would be worth it is unclear. Allen has said repeatedly that rest does not have much impact on the pain, only that there are good days and bad days. What his absence would mean for the Celtics is just as uncertain.
Mickael Pietrus would likely start, with Keyon Dooling taking on more minutes. Marquis Daniels or Sasha Pavlovic could also be in line for more minutes in place of Pietrus, who has spelled Paul Pierce at small forward. Rajon Rondo, who is already playing well over 40 minutes in many games, would likely have to push himself even further, since Dooling, his primary backup with Avery Bradley on the shelf, would need to take on a greater role at two-guard. Rookie E'Twaun Moore could get some burn, which is a prospect that should be both exciting and terrifying for Celtics fans.
Pietrus has not availed himself well in the playoffs thus far despite numerous opportunities, with his 3-point accuracy dive-bombing to 9-for-38 in the playoffs and his foul rate skyrocketing to one every eight minutes. Allen, as flat and shaky as his shot has looked, has still managed to shoot a better percentage beyond the arc than Pietrus in the postseason.
Dooling's contributions would be just as questionable. The veteran guard has looked impressive pressuring the ball, creating 50-50 opportunities and diving for loose balls, but the numbers indicate that what the Celtics give away on offense with Dooling on the court more than cancels out his defensive contributions. Those numbers may even out somewhat if Dooling is given more playing time — or the disparity could grow even wider.
Every scenario in which sitting Allen benefits the Celtics includes a massive amount of "ifs." If Pietrus and Dooling can be solid, if Pavlovic or Daniels or Moore provide a surprise spark and then, when all that is through, if Allen can come back and be effective, then giving Allen a game off is a no-brainer for Rivers.
Every one of those "ifs" appears to be no better than a "maybe," though, and when your "ifs" contain "maybes," then your options are far from ideal.
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