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When Marquis Daniels went out for surgery to repair a torn ligament in his thumb, everyone thought that the Celtics’ bench would struggle in his absence. So did I. I thought that without him coming off the bench there wouldn’t be a strong defender or player to score when needed. Of course I was wrong along with everyone else. Tony Allen, or T.A. as Mike Gorman calls him, has stepped up considerably when the Celtics have needed him most.
I thought that coming into the year Allen would maybe play a couple of games and then get hurt again and would never fully have an impact on the team. I thought that Daniels was going to be a candidate for the Sixth Man of the Year Award, along with Rasheed Wallace. Well, I was wrong in a couple of areas.
Tony Allen made a comeback sooner than I thought he would, and Daniels wasn’t playing as well as I thought he might. Maybe that was because of his injury, but he was just not producing like I imagined he would. So far this season, Daniels (in 19 games) is averaging 5.7 points, 2.1 assists, and 2.o rebounds a game while playing an average of 20.4 minutes a game.
Those numbers are down significantly from last season in Indiana when he put up 13.6 points, 2.1 assists, and 4.6 rebounds a game while playing an average of 31.5 minutes. Unless he is able to score more than twice as many points in those 11.1 minutes he isn’t playing in Boston (difference between last year and this year), then it just goes to show his production is far down this year. Daniels has played some strong defense this season, but someone named T.A. plays even stronger defense.
Since Daniels has been out, Allen has been in and honestly I have quickly forgotten about the former Pacer. Allen has played in seven games this season, all of them coming after Dec. 8. In those seven games, he has averaged 6.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.0 assist a game while having 1.1 steals a game. In those contests, he has averaged 15 minutes a game, five minutes less than Daniels and has been equally as good (if not better).
Allen has shown that he is able to play again and that he is finally healthy. I never thought I would see the day when Tony Allen is healthy on the Celtics and is contributing on a daily basis. Lately, he has been one of the players who always comes up in trade talk and maybe now he is showing his worth to the team so they won’t trade him.
So far he has been seemed fearless when attacking the basket, and that was one his strongest assets in his game, along with being a strong defender. Before Allen went down with knee surgery a couple of years ago, he was driving to the basket and showing that he was able to dunk and blow past everyone. Since then he has hesitated to drive to the basket at all, never mind shoot. He has slowed down when it comes to shooting the 3-point shot, and he was smart to do that, since it never went in.
Allen has used the minutes given to him and he has done the best with them, and when Daniels comes back, it won’t be easy for Doc Rivers to just give Daniels his job back. Of course there is always the possibility of having Eddie House playing point guard, Allen at the two, Daniels at small forward, and Wallace down below for what appears to be a very strong bench. Throw Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis in the mix and the Celtics bench is easily the best in the NBA.
So with Daniels “expected” to be out until almost February, Allen will have plenty of opportunity to show the team how much he is worth and why they should keep him around. This past weekend he was able to put up 15 points on 5-for-8 shooting with six rebounds and three assists in only 25 minutes against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Of course most of that playing time was when the C’s already had the game in control, but he was still able to put up those numbers off the bench.
He should continue to develop and become more comfortable as the year goes on and maybe he will be in the running for the Sixth Man of the Year Award or the Comeback Player of the Year. The sky is the limit for T.A. and if he stays healthy then he should see a lot of minutes in the next couple of months.