Ray Allen on Celtics Recent Struggles: ‘There’s stretches in everybody’s seasons where you’re dealing with some type of adversity.’

April 7, 2011 – 8:30 am by Michael Bean

When you’re the Boston Celtics, losing four out of ten games is considered a skid. But as Ray Allen will tell you shortly, it happens over the course of an 82 game NBA regular season. I’m a Bill Simmons fan for the most part — particularly when he’s talking about the NBA, a league he’s great at editorializing about and analyzing rather than the NFL, a league he really doesn’t know much more than the casual fan about. If you’ve listened to any of his recent podcasts, you’ve heard him go on and on about how the Celtics’ chemistry has been altered drastically since Kendrick Perkins was traded away to Oklahoma City. Perhaps in the short term, sure. But with all those cagey, hyper-competitive veterans on the roster, plus an unstoppable point guard when he’s focused, I think it’s silly to think Boston won’t be ready to go come playoff time. That time is rapidly approaching, as there are just five regular season games on the schedule for Boston before the playoff begins. Thursday night’s tilt against the Chicago Bulls just so happens to be one of them. Even though the Celtics would have to win Thursday night, plus get help from Chicago over the weekend (the Bulls are currently three games clear of Boston for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference), something tells me you’ll see Ray Allen and the rest of the Celtics approach the game as if it were a Game 7 in a playoff series. Bring on the playoffs! Should be a great postseason battle in both conferences this year.

Allen joined WEEI in Boston to talk about Boston’s Tuesday night win against the 76ers and how it never hurts to beat a playoff caliber team at this time of year, his thoughts on the state of the team’s chemistry since the trading deadline, if the veterans have talked to the new additions about how they go about their business here in Boston, if the team is as frustrated with one another as they seem to have been at times during their recent struggles, his thoughts on getting more involved in the offense earlier in games, the importance of Rajon Rondo having his mind right if the Celtics are to have any chance at going on a deep playoff run, how this year’s team isn’t leaning on last year’s experience of struggling down the stretch only to turn it on again come playoff time, and to share a PG version of a story about Jim Calhoun taking the ’99 UCONN Huskies to a barn down in Kentucky prior to the start of that year’s NCAA Tournament.

On if there’s any added significance of beating Philadelphia on Tuesday night, a team they could face in this year’s postseason:

“I think any time you get wins towards the end of the season it’s a positive, especially going into the playoffs. You’re trying to build a good chemistry, a good rhythm. You’d like to go into the postseason with that good chemistry.”

On the chemistry level inside the Celtics locker room recently:

“I think everybody is just trying to make sure they’re doing their job the way they’re supposed to. The old guys, we’re trying to figure out or make sure we accept the new guys. And the new guys are trying to make sure that they’re learning what they need to do and do it every single day. So that’s the chemistry, and every year you learn that in training camp. We have some intelligent guys coming in so we know that they’re doing what they can to get better.”

If the veterans have talked with the new players about doing things the way they’ve established over the course of recent years:

“Yeah we’ve talked about it a considerable number of times.  One of the most important things for them that they see is, when we travel on the road, you see all the fans that are in the building in the other gyms, and you understand the tradition and the following. And then at home, they see what it’s like in our building, so they understand that they’re playing under a different monster than what they’ve played on before. And they’ve got to make sure that every  night they play hard. And it’s not just about scoring points — it’s about being a better teammate, it’s about playing hard every night, it’s about defense, it’s about just having a passion out there on the floor.”

If the Celtics are as frustrated with one another as they seem to be at times from the outside looking in:

“I don’t think we get frustrated with one another, sometimes you just don’t have the answers immediately after a game. For me personally, talking to the media is very therapeutic because it helps figure out some of the things that you need to continue to do out on the floor that you didn’t do, and you can just get things off your chest. And some nights you don’t have the answer, and sometimes you get so frustrated with yourself, or the game itself, or with losing itself, that sometimes talking doesn’t help. So you’ve just got to get away and kind of sit back and think about what you can do better. So you know, you go through those different emotions every night, and it’s no different than somebody working a regular job. You know, sometimes you come home and you need to get things off your chest, and sometimes you’re like you know what, I just need to go somewhere and think this through and figure it out and think about what I can do better. And I think as a team we do that. We never really get frustrated with each other. We’re a communicating group of guys that whether we’re on the road on the plane after a loss, or we’re at home in the locker room after a loss, we talk about it, we talk about things we can do better. And never do we look at each other and get frustrated. This is probably one of the best group of guys that I’ve ever been around in doing that.”

If he’s frustrated by how few looks he seems to be getting early on in games, and on how important it is for a shooter like him to establish a rhythm earlier on in games:

“Yeah it is important. As a shooter/scorer, you’ve got to develop a rhythm early whether it’s getting to the free throw line, having the ball in your hands, getting an easy layup, a easy pop shot. Those are important because it builds a rhythm, and it builds an offensive rhythm for your team going throughout games getting some easy plays. Typically I don’t like to start a game shooting a 3, but obviously I’m warmed up and my body is in a great place starting a game, so it’s not too tough of a shot for me obviously. So you can slide out of a rhythm early, and you can get back into it. So it’s just a way that you have to take the game. And taking tough shots early is not something we want to do as a team, or I want to do as an individual.”

On just how important a healthy and productive Rajon Rondo is for the Celtics:

“Well he’s the only guy that we have that’s like him. What he does is he gets our offense going and he definitely sparks the defense. Tomorrow is going to be big him guarding Derrick Rose, so we all need to fill in behind him and make sure that we give him support. So yeah, he’s like the head of the monster, the head of the snake so to speak. So we’ve got to make sure his energy is great, his attitude is great, his body language is great, everything. Because he probably takes the brunt of all the pressure, the attitudes that one of us may give, he takes it all on. So we’ve got to make sure we always keep him right because he’s the one who’s going to make sure we keep going deep into the playoffs.”

If he thinks last year’s experience of coasting during the regular season only to turn it on come playoff time perhaps has perhaps crept into their mindset recently, knowing that no matter what happens, so long as they’re in the playoffs they’re as dangerous as anybody:

“No because I don’t think we tried to do it, we were just going through a funky period last year. I think 82 games, there’s stretches in everybody’s seasons where you’re dealing with some type of adversity and so this year it’s hard to say what we’re dealing with, because at some point we’ve always had our backs up against the wall when we were dealing with an injury or two….we never really felt like we were at full strength. So there was always something. And I appreciated the challenge, because that challenge, it wasn’t easy. We didn’t walk from A to Z all season, it was always hard and we learned something about ourselves and we continue to. And that’s why getting to where we did last year was special, and why it hurt so much that we didn’t finish it off. So now we have another opportunity to get back to that place.”

If he’d care to share a story about Jim Calhoun taking his UCONN trip on a field trip prior to the start of the 1999 NCAA Tournament:

“I’ve got a lot of Calhoun stories, you’ve got to refresh my memory on which one it is. The one at Kentucky? Yeah, we were playing at Rupp Arena, that was my junior year. It was like ‘get ‘em out of the hotel, I don’t want them sitting around.’ He always did something. Now I understand it more, because now I travel and I get out and I do certain things just to enjoy certain cities. So he took us to a horse farm in Kentucky, and he was like, ‘guys, you think you guys are doing something?’ And then we walked into this barn, and this big horse came out, and he was just ready. He was ready. He just saddled this thing and he just went to work. And we were like ‘wow!’ Everybody was going crazy, everybody was laughing, it was so funny, and we were like ‘we really ain’t doing nothing.’ That was the PG version.”

Listen here to Allen with Dennis & Callahan on WEEI in Boston

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