Appreciating Tony Allen
By John Helsley
Eddie Sutton is impacting these NBA playoffs.
The former Cowboys coach may be gone from the game, but his dogged defensive mantra has already shifted Eastern Conference supremacy through his one-time pupil Tony Allen.
While not a starter, OSU-ex Allen nightly fills a crucial role as a stopper off the bench for the Celtics. Boston coach Doc Rivers credits Allen’s defense on Miami’s Dwayne Wade and Cleveland’s LeBron James as crucial to series wins. And he’s back at it again as the Celts’ have bolted to a 2-0 advantage in the conference final against Orlando.
Wanna know how the Celtics made James look human? Allen is a large part of the answer.
NBA writers pin Allen’s Boston rebirth on his willingness to focus on defending. But those of us who watched Allen emerge as a dynamic player at OSU know that it’s a skill mined by Sutton, who coaxed great effort — on both ends — from the Chicago playground product.
Of course, Sutton demanded defensive intensity. But while some players obliged begrudgingly, Allen embraced D-ing up and even fed off the added power a big steal or big stop pumped into his game.
With the Celtics, Allen has struggled with injuries and consistency. There was a point this season when he seemed to be a forgotten piece of the puzzle, landing outside Rivers’ rotation.
But Allen forced his way back onto the floor as a top reserve. Through defense.
“Our whole thing with the bench is focus,” Allen told the Boston Herald. “We’re blue-collar guys and we have to come in aggressive, knowing what the schemes are that we have for the team and playing every possession hard like it’s our last.”
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