EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 18, 2010

Sixth Man Tony Allen wants to return

By Michael Muldoon and David Willis

BOSTON — Celtics free agent guard Tony Allen left no doubt he'd like to be back next season.

"I'm a Celtic. I was born a Celtic. Doc (Rivers) is like my father.

Danny (Ainge) is like my uncle. Only the future knows what it holds. But I want to be here."

Allen, who yesterday was named the team's Sixth Star Award winner, has been here five years, but he apparently isn't the best with names.

He was overheard shouting to a team employee, "Bald man. Bald man. I need some socks.''

It hasn't been an easy ride in Boston for the former Oklahoma State All-American.

He's had a slew of injuries including the blown out knee after the infamous "after the whistle" dunk. Then there was the 2005 Chicago bar fight in which somebody was shot and last year him needing extra security for a game in Chicago due to a supposed death threat.

But the Windy City native has carved out a solid career for himself and could be a key in the series vs. the Heat. Ray Allen will certainly need some help trying to slow down Dwyane Wade.

Rivers said the first word that comes to mind with Allen was perseverance.

"Each year we've had to make the decision to bring him back,'' said Rivers. "He wasn't playing (much this season) but we noticed his attitude changed.''

Marquette reunion

No word if Butch Lee was at the Garden last night, but at least two legendary Marquette guards were.

Doc Rivers had a terrific three-year run at the Milwaukee school and later Dwyane Wade led Marquette to a final four.

"I called the priest (at school) and he said pray,'' said Rivers with a laugh.

That's about as good of advice anybody had on how to stop Wade, who averaged 33.7 points in his three regular-season meeting with the C's.

Matchup that wasn't

Rajon Rondo is one of the flashiest guards in the NBA with all his no-look passes and fake behind the back passes leading to pretty teardrop shots.

But everybody takes a back seat to Rafer Alston when it comes to the jawdropping schoolyard moves.

Known as "Skip To My Lou," he spawned the And 1 tour.

But the hotheaded Alston, who had been a point guard for the Heat, was suspended for the season when he went AWOL in March. Supposedly he was tending to his twin sister, who was suicidal. But when he didn't contact the club, they cut ties with him.

Back in action

Heat center Jermaine O'Neal, who in his early years with Portland was nearly traded in a blockbuster deal to the Celtics, has had yet another injury-plagued campaign.

He only played three games after hyperextending his knee on March 26.

But he was back last night and contributed eight points and seven boards in the first half.

Rondo playing ill

Rajon Rondo wasted no time getting in on the action last night, scoring the first points of the game on an impressive up-and-under layup. It relived some of the concern over his health, as he has been dealing with flu-like symptoms in recent days.

"At least he was able to hold liquids down," said Celtics head coach Doc Rivers prior to the game. "He wasn't for a while. For the last couple days, he wasn't able to keep anything down. That isn't good for him."

Rondo, of course, was in the starting lineup. And Rivers noted the time of the year helped his cause.

"This is the playoffs,:" said Rivers. "The adrenalin gets going and you make it through."

Rivers said his point guard had been ill early in the day but obviously by the 8 p.m. tip he was much better.

Rondo wasn't the only one dealing with illness. Key bench players Tony Allen and Glen "Big Baby" Davis, who Rivers called the "card-playing crew" were bothered by similar symptoms. Both were in the lineup.

Rivers said the card-playing trio should wear gloves during future card games.

"We're around each other so much, we are on planes together where the air is recycled," noted Celtics guard Ray Allen. "We have to keep ourselves sanitized. Its important for us not to get sick, especially this time of the year. If you get some type of head cold or stress cold, it can take a lot out of you."

Ray takes challenge

Ray Allen knows he has his work cut out when he is charged with guarding Heat superstar Dwyane Wade.

"He's probably the most aggressive cover I have," said Allen. "The way he aggressively gets to the basket, he definitely presents a unique challenge."

Even now, three months from his 35th birthday, Allen remains the

Celtics' most consistent defender, even against the likes of the jet-fast 28-year-old Wade.

Allen will also have to deal with the pesky Wade when he has the ball.

"It doesn't change my job if he is running," said Allen. " When I'm moving up and down the court, if my guy is running from side to side with me, that's good for us when others have the ball."

Life imitates art?

The Celtics' pregame video featured a motivational speech delivered by Sylvester Stallone in the movie "Rocky Balboa" (aka "Rocky 6.")

It seems, unintentionally, to be appropriate. Like Rocky in the latest of his films, the Celtics are a once great champion fighting father time.

Oh, and (spoiler alert) Rocky loses to the much younger and more dynamic opponent at the end of the movie.

• • •

Join the discussion. To comment on stories and see what others are saying, log on to eagletribune.com.