Tony Allen was sick tonight- in more ways than one.
Fighting off the flu over the past few days, it was anyone's guess how Tony Allen would be able to contribute to the team tonight. It was clear early on that the Tony Allen we have seen as of late, the one who earned him the Comcast SportsNet Sixth Star Award, was in the building. His energy and defensive intensity was enough to turn down the Heat as the Celtics came away with an 85-76 victory.
Tony Allen also shot 7-12 from the field for 14 points to go with this three steals and two blocks. With the Celtics down 12 points with 6:30 to go in the third quarter, Tony Allen was subbed into the game for Ray Allen. The Celtics then went on a 15-5 run to end the quarter down only two points. During that stretch, Paul Pierce went off for nine points.
"I just wanted to be a little bit more aggressive," said Pierce of his third quarter scoring outburst in which he scored 11 of his 16 points. "Somebody mentioned to me that I only took one shot in the second quarter and then talking to Doc on the sidelines, just told me to stay aggressive. That's what I tried to do... Once I started doing that, defense kicked in. It wasn't about offense really; it is about how we played defensively."
The defensive intensity picked up even more in the fourth quarter, as the Celtics held the Heat to only ten fourth quarter points. It was the type of defense fans came so accustomed to seeing over the past couple seasons for the Celtics. It has been said over and over that the Celtics hang their hat on defense, and that was evident tonight.
"The key for us was Tony Allen's defense on Dwayne Wade," said Pierce. "I thought that he came in and really did a great job on both ends of the court, on offense and defense. It gave us the spark."
"He does everything that you want a guy off the bench to do," continued Pierce on Tony Allen. "You want him to bring energy, just a spark when things aren't going well. I thought he did that on both ends of the court. He made Dwayne Wade play him on offense and on the defensive end. He made him work on the other end."
While Tony Allen deserves a lot of credit, another player off the bench, Glen Davis, stepped up huge tonight like he did last year in the playoffs.
"Tony and Baby (Glen Davis) I thought defensively changed the game for us," said coach Doc Rivers. "Forget the ‘It's great to see Baby finish' and all that stuff."
The Celtics missed some easy buckets in the first half, something that Rivers stressed to the guys at halftime. Rivers was satisfied with where the offense was at, but knew that if they were to win it would be by stepping up the defense especially on Dwayne Wade.
Rivers said in his press conference that he told the players at halftime, "Offensively, I'll take what we have; defensively it'll be Wade in the second half, and we have to move our feet defensively." He went on to say, "And I thought Baby came in and then I thought he was sensational, and Tony was great."
Davis had eight points and eight rebounds in over 23 minutes tonight. His energy and play may have been enough to earn him a start on Tuesday night if Garnett is in fact suspended for throwing and connecting on an elbow to Quentin Richardson's face. Davis started in the playoffs last year in Garnett's absence, but only started one game this season- the last game of the season.