The bodies are dropping like flies in the NBA Playoffs, and the Celtics and Hawks are doing their best to avoid the carnage. Looking ahead to Game 4 tomorrow night, here’s a few updates on the key players involved:
Ray Allen: The shooting guard showed little rust after returning from a 11-game absence last night (beyond a couple misses at the free throw line) scoring 13 points in 36 minutes on the bench. The heavy workload was not exactly expected by the sharpshooter and Allen spoke at length about how he felt and his plans to recuperate moving forward:
“I didn’t think that I would be playing this sooner if I looked at how I felt last week. I think at Kevin at some point asked me, he said, “Do you think you are going to make it back for the series?” And I was like, “It’s not looking like it.” So the last 3 days have been pretty good with some of the things I’ve been doing, physically. In just the last 2 days, its been like night and day for me. Being able to get on the floor and move around and shoot. Being able to get into my routine, I’ve been so off routine for the past 2 months. It’s like me who I am. It’s been tough, you know you are almost from the outside looking in trying to be a part of the team and trying not to be in the way. Being back on the floor I felt alive. I felt like I was back in my own skin and it was a great feeling.”
And looking ahead, how will it respond?
“I believe when you get sidelined with any type of injury, sometimes you allow your body to take over and you just succumb to the injury or whatever soreness or pain you are dealing with. I know mine is real and it still is real but I’ve gotten to a point where I’m able to handle it a little bit better than maybe a week ago. From day to day sometimes I haven’t known kind of how it was going to affect me so in the last 2 or 3 days its probably been the best its been and I’ve been doing some things to help ail the pain I’ve been feeling in my ankle and it’s been great. So from day to day I don’t know somedays. And trying to give you guys answers is sometimes hard to really explain or give answers so it’s been great and I’m happy to be able to say that. And tomorrow’s a new day but again I’m not going to it looking like or feeling like a victim, I’m coming out of the sand thinking its going to be good tomorrow and its going to be even better Sunday.”
Here’s more from Doc on Ray:
“I thought the legs were shot at the end. We started trying to use him for decoy. He was terrific. And like I told you before the game – someone asked me, ‘Would there be a minute restriction?’ I said, “No, because we don’t know when he’ll play again or not.’ You know? So I’m getting everything I can get out of him each game. I’m saying that jokingly, but somewhat true as well. Tonight honestly, we needed him. It’s amazing the difference when he’s on the floor in our spacing, and how much more difficult it is for guys to help.”
And will he do anything today?
”I don’t want Ray in the gym because he would do something; he would shoot, or something. So that’s unusual for us in the playoffs to take a day off, but they need one.”
Clearly, this is a situation where how Ray’s ankle responds to the punishment will determine his availability. The need for Allen will grow by leaps and bounds for Gamr 4 however depending on the status of Avery Bradley. The 21-year-old guard left the game in the third quarter last night with a left shoulder injury. After Celtics PR reported at first Bradley would return to action in the game, they came back moments later announcing he would be out. Here’s Doc on the injury:
“Shoulder. Shoulder went out. And he’s had that problem all year. Usually they’re able to, like a lego, they’ll snap it back in. It wouldn’t go back in. So we’ll find out more Saturday.”
100 points to Doc for the lego reference. Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe has a source telling him that the shoulder injury is merely “a stinger” and Bradley will likely be available for Game 4, but given the fact this is a injury that forced Bradley to miss a couple games earlier this season, it’s certainly something to keep an eye on, but signs are pointing towards him being available in Game 4.
Finally, after his team fell just short without him last night, it appears Josh Smith is more determined than ever to play throughout his painful left knee injury and suit up for Game 4:
With Smith likely back, the C’s will need to step up their effort and energy in order to put Atlanta on the brink of elimination in Game 4.