Greg M. Cooper/US Presswire
The Celtics could have Ray Allen back on the floor Sunday vs. the Knicks.WALTHAM, Mass. -- Celtics guard Ray Allen, who sat out Friday's win over New Jersey due to illness, observed Saturday's practice from the balcony above the team's practice floor, and coach Doc Rivers deemed him probable for Sunday's matinee with the New York Knicks.
"I think he’s probable, but again, he’s still not feeling great," said Rivers. "[Team doctors] think he’s no longer contagious, but we didn’t want to take the chance. We sat him in the Knicks' locker room today and had him use all of their towels -- all the towels they use for practice today will be Ray-induced."
Yes, Rivers had some fun with Allen's illness, something you can afford to do when your team is on a three-game winning streak. But Rivers admitted any illness is a real concern around this team, particularly in a condensed season.
"This is something that the league has instructed us to do if a guy gets sick," said Rivers. "[Nets coach] Avery Johnson and I were talking, if you miss a week, you could literally miss five games. And so, if one guy gets sick and three or four other guys get sick, all of a sudden you’re on a five- or six-game losing streak in a week. So all of that stuff is important this year. It probably should be important all the time, when you think about it, but definitely this year."
A reporter noted how it was ironic that Allen, maybe the team's most health- and nutrition-conscious player, who is fresh off an All-Star break spent relaxing in the Bahamas, is the one that came down with an illness.
Quipped Rivers: "That’s the one thing I told Ray, I said, 'I’m so disappointed. From now on I’m going to drink alcohol and eat meat, because you do all the good things and you get sick. So, what the hell, I’m having a burger.'"
Elsewhere on the injury front, the Celtics held second-year guard Avery Bradley out of their light afternoon workout after he rolled his right ankle in Friday's win. Rivers deemed Bradley doubtful for Sunday's game, but left the door open for him to play being a younger player. Sure enough, Bradley emerged from the training room soon after and declared himself ready to play on Sunday.
"It’s better than [Friday]; I rolled it a little bit, but I’ll be fine [Sunday]," said Bradley. "I just tweaked it a little bit, it swelled up. I’ll be ready for tomorrow."
The Celtics will still be without Jermaine O'Neal on Sunday as Rivers said there's been no new developments as he ponders options for his ailing left wrist. Rivers did laugh when a reporter asked about O'Neal's decision, putting a LeBron-like spin on it.
"The Decision? Yeah, he’s going to have a show to announce it," Rivers said with a laugh as O'Neal contemplates surgery or a cortisone shot that might allow him to grind through the rest of the season. "I think he’s definitely going to see one more [hand specialist], I don’t know when that is."
The Celtics spent the first part of practice watching film and hammering home all the positives from their offensive execution over the last three games. The team also walked through its game plan for Sunday as the 1 o'clock tip makes it virtually impossible to do anything on gameday.
As for the Sunday showdown with the Knicks, Rivers admits it's a big game for both sides.
"I think for both teams, we want to win the game, so it should be a very competitive game," he said. "It’s a very important game for both teams. And I always find that to be good during the regular season. I think every game, like I've said, after the break, is a measuring-stick game, or a grind game from now on. I think our guys have joined that mentality so that’s good."