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8.27.2009

Why Didn't Doc use Ray Allen at the Point in the 2008 Playoffs?

On the few occasions when the Boston Celtics got down big during the 2007-08 NBA season, Doc Rivers deployed what I like to call the KG and the Four Guns lineup. It consisted of KG at the 5, James Posey at the 4, Pierce at the 3, Jesus at the 2, and E.House at the point. That lineup rescued us from a couple of memorable deficits, one of them being against the Lakers in game 4 of the 2008 NBA Finals.

This year I'm excited to see whether Doc uses a modified version of this lineup, with Rasheed Wallace replacing James Posey at the 4. As I peruse Celtics' message boards, I see a few fans are anticipating a slightly different variation, with Perk at the 5, Sheed at the 4, KG at the 3, Pierce at the 2, and Ray Allen at the point. This is an interesting idea, and one I really like in certain situations (when we're down big or in a dog fight at the end of a game).

But if this is such a great idea, one might ask, why didn't Doc use Ray Allen at the point during the championship season?

It is a fair question, because like the championship season, the Celtics still only have five dependable jump shooters: Pierce, Jesus, KG, Sheed, and E.House. The reason that deploying a back court of Pierce and Allen this year might be more tempting is because Perk has established himself as one of the premier post defenders in the NBA, whereas in 2008 he was still a question mark. When a game is on the line, getting stops is no less important than scoring the ball. In fact, it might be more important in terms of grabbing control of the final minutes.

So keeping Perk in despite not being a jump shooter has its merits.

One objection is that you don't have the destructive one on the floor, Rajon Rondo. I agree that this is a problem. But if his jumper is still iffy this year, I'm not sure we can risk having him get the ball at the end of the game and being forced to shoot it because his defender is doubling someone else. Another objection is that Ray Allen isn't a point guard. No, he is not. But is he any worse a point guard than Danny, DJ, and Jerry Sichting in 1986? Is he a worse ball handler than Derek Fisher?

Bottom line is that this lineup will be a lineup Doc is tempted to use, and here's to hoping he succumbs to the temptation a few times.

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