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Tony Allen vs. The Bulls

Last week I started a three part series on Tony Allen. You should check out Part 1, which looks at his 2007 season up through his knee surgery and Part 2, which examines his summer, training camp and first month of the season. Today I'm focusing on Allen's efforts in one game - the December 27th match up with the Bulls. It's a bit tedious but does highlight some of the challenges Allen faces as well as a few of his successes. Enjoy.

With 1:16 remaining in the first quarter Tony Allen checked into the game.

1st Offensive Possession - After passing the ball in bounds Allen hung out on the wing before rotating to the center of the court, just above the three point line. From there he received a pass from Paul Pierce and swung it to James Posey who knocked down a three. Of note: Though he did nothing spectacular I was happy to see Allen mesh with the offense and make the right pass.
1st Defensive Possession - Allen was matched up against Ben Gordon. The Bulls tried to set Gordon free with a pick but Allen ran over the top and got a hedge from Posey, which allowed him to recover. Gordon passed the ball away. From there Allen kept an eye on Gordon and the ball from the wing position. When Chris Duhon drove by Rajon Rondo Allen stepped toward him and waved in a weak form of help defense. Duhon hit a shot in the lane. In his defense Allen chose to stick with Gordon, a more dangerous offensive threat, and it looked like it was actually Scot Pollard's responsibility to help. Of note: When Gordon did give the ball up Allen almost deflected it. He can really be a menace, waving his arms, disrupting passing lanes.
2nd Offensive Possession - Offensive foul on Paul Pierce.  Of note: Nothing.
2nd Defensive Possession - Allen went under a screen set by Aaron Gray and appeared to get a piece of Ben Gordon's shot. Of note: Getting around Gray's screen is no small task. The guy is huge. And Allen did a nice job recovering as scorers like Gordon see the green light when their man slips under a screen.
3rd Offensive Possession - Allen was the first man down the court, watched Pierce take it to the rim, and got in position to rebound as Pierce got the bucket and the foul. Of note: Pierce, angry about the foul call on the previous trip down the court, had no intention of passing. However, Allen positioned himself well on the baseline to take it to the rack if Pierce decided to draw the defense and dish.
3rd Defensive Possession - With less than 24 seconds on the clock Allen found himself isolated on Ben Gordon at the center of the court. Gray came with another screen. Allen went over it but lost Gordon in the process. Help forced Gordon to pass to Tyrus Thomas for a deep shot that the Celtics would probably take every time down the court. The first quarter came to a close. Of note: The pick can roll is hard to guard. That said I'm not convinced that was Allen's best effort at it.
4th Offensive Possession - Defensive three seconds on the Bulls. Foul on Nocioni. Turnover by Eddie House. Of note: Nothing.
4th Defensive Possession - Chris Duhon got to the free throw line after a foul by Pollard. Of note: Nothing.
5th Offensive Possession - Tony Allen ran off a screen set by James Posey, eventually got the ball near the wing and blew by Thabo Sefolosha. Sefolosha was whistled for the foul on the floor and Allen missed a lay up. The C's took the ball out of bounds and House committed another turnover when he threw Allen the worst bounce pass ever. Nothing Allen could do about it. Of note: My heart jumped in my throat when the whistle blew and Allen continued towards the basket. However, unlike last January he barely elevated and simply missed a lay up instead.
5th Defensive Possession - Allen chased Sefolosha around and then doubled the Swiss guard with Pollard's help. This left Pollard's man, Gray, open and Sefolosha hit him with a pass. Pollard then sent Grey to the line rather than give up an easy lay up. Of note: Nothing really.
6th Offensive Possession - Allen took a hand off from Glen Davis and then hit Posey for an open three. Of note: Once again good job playing within the offense.
6th Defensive Possession - Dunk by Tyrus Thomas. Of note: Nothing
7th Offensive Possession - Allen was not involved in the double screens nor did he score the bucket. Posey did. Of note: He helped maintain the spacing. It may seem like a small thing but shows maturity in Allen's game.
7th Defensive Possession - Atrocious shot by Kirk Hinrich that hit the top of the backboard. Of note: Nothing
8th Offensive Possession - Turnover by Ray Allen. Of note: Nothing.
8th Defensive Possession - Gray got the ball on the block with Glen Davis on his back. Allen's man (Sefolosha) was in the opposite corner of the court allowing the former Oklahoma State stand out to position himself in the middle of the paint in help defense. When Gray threw a pass to Sefolosha that almost sailed out of bounds Allen recovered. Sefolosha caught the pass, gathered and drove towards the hoop. Allen stuck with him and put a hand in Sefolosha's face as the Swiss guard missed a shot. The Bulls got the rebound, Davis blocked a shot attempt by Gray and Allen grabbed the deflected ball. Of note: Nice job not giving up base line. Although I vaguely remember the Celtics giving up base line. Maybe that was last year's scheme.
9th Offensive Possession - After grabbing the ball from the blocked shot
Allen dribbled to the middle of the court. When nobody stopped ball he took it all the way to the rim. He missed the shot but was fouled in the process. He knocked down both freebies. Of note: Good to see him attack the basket and hit his free throws.
9th Defensive Possession - HInrich turnover. Of note: Not much. Although Allen, amongst others, stepped to Hinrich when he was in traffic, which may have forced the errant pass.
10th Offensive Possession - Missed it. ESPN was too busy showing the replay of Allen fouling Chauncey Billups at the end of the Pistons game. Of note: Don't know.
10th Defensive Possession - Glen Davis foul. Then another Davis foul. This time Joakim Noah went to the line. He made the first and missed the second. Allen grabbed the board and quickly threw it to House who walked it up the court. Of note: Allen did step to Duhon because his man, Sefolosha, was slow getting down the court.
11th Offensive Possession - Posey hit a three from the wing. Allen hung out on the opposite wing. Of note: Spacing
11th Defensive Possession - Missed Bulls shot. Of note: Allen was the first Celtic down the court.
12th Offensive Possession -  Glen Davis turnover. Of note: Nothing
12th Defensive Possession/13th Offensive Possession - Eddie House unsuccessfully tried to draw a charge in the lane. Allen then ripped the ball away from Deng, raced down court and layed it in. Of note: Shame on the Bulls for not hustling back. Also the crowd was half expecting a dunk as was I when it happened live. I was relieved and then a little disappointed that he still does not feel comfortable or able to play above the rim.
13th Defensive Possession - Davis sent Noah to the line again. Once again Noah made the first and missed the second. Allen kept it alive and Sefolosha was credited with a tip in. However, I swear Allen inadvertently scored it. Of note: Good to see him battle, regardless of the results.
14th Offensive Possession - Hung out in the corner by the Celtics bench and then missed a three with the shot clock running down. It was an open look and a good shot. That's what happens when Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen are on the floor. Ray Allen got the rebound and kicked it to Posey who air balled a three. Of note: Tony Allen's game blew up last year when the Celtics did not have a lot of offensive options and he had the ball in his hands a lot. Now he will have to mesh with the offense, which is clearly not running through him. In fact in the lineup that was playing during this possession - Ray Allen, KG, House, Posey and Tony Allen - the former Oklahoma State star is probably the fifth option.
14th Defensive Possession/15th Offensive Possession - Allen fronted Sefolosha and battled for position as the Swiss guard tried to post him up. Eventually the Bulls lobbed it over Allen, the help defense came and Sefolosha missed the shot. Garnett came away with it eventually and threw it to Allen on the wing. Allen drove to the corner then took it to the hoop and jumped up before kicking it to Posey at the top of the key. Ray Allen earned an offensive foul. Of note: Shades of out of control Tony Allen.
15th Defensive Possession - KG grabbed an errant shot and kick started a fast break. Of note: Lax box out but who cares? KG was in the game.  
16th Offensive Possession - Rondo was fouled on the break and went to the line. Of note: Nothing.
16th Defensive Possession - Three seconds on Noah. Of note: Allen was the first man back on defense.
17th Offensive Possession - Hung out on the wing/corner opposite the ball and at one point even did the lick your hands and wipe your sneakers trick before heading to the hoop on a missed KG shot. Contested the rebound but two Bulls had position. Of note: Not much.
17th Defensive Possession - Chased Sefoloha around, played some help defense flew by Sefolosha as the Swiss guard tried to get a shot but stepped on the base line. Celtics ball. Of note: Allen probably got caught out of position a bit here but the results were good. Although it was a bit disheartening to see him wildly fly through the air on a pump fake by Sefolosha before the turnover call.

Pierce checked in for Allen at the 5:21 minute mark in the second quarter. He had played for 7 minutes and 55 seconds. At the 1:40 mark in the second quarter Allen checked back in for Pierce.

18th Defensive Possession - The Bulls were at the line and Allen watched Rondo grab a board. Of note: Nothing
18th Offensive Possession - KG went to the line. Of note: Nothing
19th Defensive Possession - Gray hit a shot. Of note: Nothing
19th Offensive Possession - Allen got the ball on the wing, threw it to KG, cut to the basket, took a handoff, leaped and saw his lay up get blocked by Deng. Of note: It was a tough shot. But I do wonder what explosive Tony Allen would have done.
20th Defensive Possession - Gray beat everyone down the court and got a dunk.  Of note: Let's never talk of this again.
20th Offensive Possession - Perk went to the foul line. Of note: Allen ran the point a bit but threw it to House.
21st Defensive Possession - Duhon hit a three. Of note: Allen was matched up with Nocioni.
21st Offensive Possession - Allen hung out in the corner again, took a pass from Rondo, blew by Nocioni, got in the lane and missed a lay up. Of note: Once again, what would explosive Tony Allen have done? Halftime.

Allen checked in for Paul Pierce with 1:14 left in the third quarter.

22nd Defensive Possession - Allen was whistled for a foul on Nocioni as he fronted the Argentinian in the post and then pushed off.  Of note: Nice fight there.
22nd Offensive Possession - Celtics turnover. Of note: Not much.
23rd Defensive Possession - Bulls turnover. Of note: Nothing
23rd Offensive Possession - Allen got the ball around half court, bolted for the lane and fed Davis who was fouled and sent to the line. Of note: Controlled aggressiveness. Nice.
24th Defensive Possession - Allen strayed from Nocioni who then hit a three. Of note: Like Hubie Brown says teams get looks like that when they trail by more than 20.
24th Offensive Possession - Nice move and score by Tyrus Thomas. Of note: The third quarter ended.

My DVR only caught a part of the fourth quarter. However, my favorite play occurred in the first minute of action. Tyrus Thomas grabbed a board and inexplicably dribbled up court. Once he crossed half court Allen poked at the ball and deflected it to House. House immediately threw it to a streaking Allen who took two steps and leaped for a dunk. In the process he even swung on the rim a bit but landed without incident. The crowd loved it. A few minutes later Allen grabbed a rebound, went coast to coast and earned a trip to the free throw line. I didn't get much after that, although I recall Allen breaking free for a few more dunks and the bench absolutely loving it. In the end Allen finished with 12 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals in just under 23 minutes of time. As we saw the other night Allen might not be ready for the elite teams in the league. But his steady play was definitely a factor in Paul Pierce logging only 27 minutes last night. That and the Bulls falling behind big. But Allen played 9 of his minutes in the first half. Also he has the luxury of playing his way into shape, gaining confidence and learning from his mistakes (see Billups pump fake) because the Celtics are off to such a great start. I am rooting for him.

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