Allen feeling balanced

Celtics too good to leave behind

By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / October 1, 2010

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NEWPORT, R.I. The thoughts were there, and he bounced between them.



There were reasons for Ray Allen to leave. He was looking at opportunities he hadn’t had in three years. Before he came to Boston, he was taking 20 shots a night, scoring 25 points a game. Whether he was in Milwaukee or Seattle, it was his team, his ball.

Last year, for the first time since 1999, he wasn’t an All-Star. Leave Boston this summer, and he could play in a city where the ball would belong to him again.

The thoughts bounced around.

“Selfishly, I could have went somewhere and put up a lot more shots and possibly had a greater chance of making a couple more All-Star teams,’’ Allen said. “But it’s just too much belief in the way we do things.’’

Ultimately, he chose to stay with the Celtics, signing a two-year, $20 million contract. He’ll take about 12 shots a game, score 16-18 points a night. He might make another All-Star team. He might not. But the tradeoff is the possibility of a championship, the chance to continue something special.

“You just don’t give up a great situation,’’ he said.

With all the new characters in the Celtics locker room, Allen’s straight-laced demeanor has almost fallen into the background in training camp. His personality is present but subtle.

“He’s still Ray,’’ said Kevin Garnett. “Still being a politician at times. Still acting like he’s Wikipedia. That’s Ray. That’s who he is.’’

It’s been said time and again that, of the Big Three, Allen has sacrificed the most. His numbers dropped, he has seemed pigeonholed on the perimeter. But he accepts it.

“I’ve never been a big ego,’’ Allen said. “I know what it is that I need to do to help the team win. I know what I’m capable of doing.’’

But it’s easier to sacrifice at some times than others. Last season, Allen was a completely different player from one half of the season to the next. For the first three months, he struggled from the field (45 percent) and the 3-point line (33.9 percent). But once the pressure of the trade deadline passed, the shots started falling (51.3 percent from the floor, 39.2 percent from 3-point range).

The simplest logic said the stress of hearing his name in trade rumors bothered him, especially in January. But Allen said his struggles had less to do with outside uncertainty and more to do with a diminished role in the offense.

“I played the game the same way,’’ he said. “Being a part of this team, ‘playing freer,’ it all depends on what my teammates are doing. Sometimes we were in our own ways.’’

Occasionally, he would point it out. He would say he was a barometer for the offense.

When he was on, by his assessment, the offense reaped the benefits. When he sprinted around the floor and found shots, two defenders would pop out and someone would wind up open. Either that, or the man assigned to guard him all night would get gassed trying to stick with him.

“It was evident last year when I got involved that it opened a lot of things up for everybody else,’’ Allen said. “That’s why I can’t float around and get lost in the fray.’’

At times the offense drifted away from him. Coach Doc Rivers could tell Allen wanted to be more involved.

“Ray’s like every scorer, he wants the ball, and that’s something you always have to deal with, with every scorer,’’ Rivers said. “But he’s a low-maintenance player. He’s a pro, and he’s the type of guy you want on your team.’’

Allen wanted a compromise, something between demanding the ball and understanding his coach’s perspective.

“When I’m out there on the floor, I know that I’m not going to give ground to anybody,’’ Allen said. “I’m very stubborn, but at the same time, I’m very compromising. I just understand, being a part of the team, what that means: giving of myself to make sure this can be the best team possible.’’

If Allen looked more relaxed in the second half of the season, it was because he was able to strike a balance.

“I feel like the second half he had a better flow or Doc put more of an effort to make sure Ray was implemented in game plans,’’ Garnett said. “There was a little extra amount to make sure he was OK.

“And I think we as a team, you always sacrifice for the betterment, and for us to be better, we have to have Ray be who he is. I thought Ray was more relaxed in the second half because of some of those things that we did.’’

He could have left. Maybe for Miami. Maybe to a young team in rebuilding mode. He chose to compromise.

“You don’t give up a lineup that we had for individual success,’’ Allen said. “We’ve all had that. I want to be able to say that I’m looking up and I have guys that I can count on every single night.’’

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