Boston Celtic shooting guard Ray Allen remains out with an ankle injury and every day his status becomes more and more unclear. Allen was first injured in a Celtic win over the Washington Wizards in late January and he has repeatedly re-aggravated the injury over the course of the second half. With Allen in the lineup the Celtics have one of the best benches in the NBA with the sharpshooting Allen, defensive stud Mickael Pietrus, and shot blocking extraordinaire Greg Stiemsma the first off the pine for coach Doc Rivers. However, as long as Allen remains out, the bench is way thinner and some other Celtic is going to have to step up. The man most eligible for the this role is veteran Keyon Dooling.
The Celtics bench is packed with old pros. Other than Allen they aren't particularly deep in terms of high end talent, but they have a bevy of savvy veterans who are capable of coming off the bench cold and contributing. Dooling, Marquis Daniels, and Sasha Pavlovic top this list. They are all smart players who play strong defense and can contribute even when they haven't seen meaningful minutes for weeks at a time. While they wont ever light it up off the bench like Allen can, they wont come in and hurt the team either. They aren't spectacular, but they are reliable. However, as long as Allen remains out, one of this trio is going to have to be more than reliable. With the bulk of their bench scoring sidelined with an ankle injury some other bench player is going to have to start knocking down shots.
Daniels is a crafty, clever player, who makes more shots that look like they can't possibly go in than anyone not named Rajon Rondo. But he's really not a jump shooter and definitely does not have three point range. Pavlovic does have three point range, but he's mired in a miserable shooting slump, and every jumper he takes is off by more than the one before. Dooling on the other hand, has been a pretty good three point shooter over the course of his twelve year career, and last game buried two huge third quarter long balls that helped keep the Celtics within striking distance when the game seemed to be getting away from them. The Celtics are going to need more of this from Dooling going forward. With Allen unavailable someone on the Celtic bench is going to have to consistently knock down corner threes. With Pietrus struggling to find his range, and Pavlovic looking like he couldn't throw a rock in the ocean, this task falls to Dooling.
Practically every team that has ever won a playoff series had players who came off the bench and knocked down shots. One of the major reasons why the Antione Walker-Paul Pierce Celtics of the early 2000s had some playoff success, upsetting the favored Detroit Pistons in 2002 and Indiana Pacers in 2003, was because players like Rodney Rogers and Walter McCarty knocked down corner threes. The 2008 Celtics would never have gotten their championship without big shots from Eddie House and James Posey. For the 2012 Celtics, with Allen's status uncertain, Keyon Dooling is the next man up. The Celtics were 0-19 from three-point range in the series before Dooling hit those two from corner. With the rest of the bench shooters struggling, the onus is on him. The Celtics can probably get by Atlanta with Dooling being inconsistent, but after that they are going to need a consistent shot in the arm off their bench. Dooling has shown throughout his career that he can score the rock. He has to come through if the Celtics want to have any shot at succeeding without Allen.
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