Tough Mission

Ray Allen was the face of the Seattle SuperSonics for more than four seasons.

After changing shades of green in the offseason, he's now sharing the spotlight with two other superstars while helping the Boston Celtics to one of the best starts in the team's storied history.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Boston -9 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 192 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 91% of bets for this game have been placed on Boston -9 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

Allen returns to Seattle for the first time - and only time this season - as the Celtics continue their first western road trip on Thursday against the rebuilding Sonics.

Allen was traded from Milwaukee to Seattle at the trade deadline in 2002-03. He finished that season as the Sonics' leading scorer, and went on to claim the same honor each of the following four years.

Despite his relatively brief tenure with the Sonics, Allen ranks 11th in franchise history with 7,273 points and third with 869 3-pointers.

The Sonics, though, made the playoffs just once in Allen's time with the club. After securing the No. 2 overall selection in June's draft - a pick they used on Texas phenom Kevin Durant - they began their rebuilding process by trading Allen to Boston on draft night.

That trade convinced Kevin Garnett, who spent the first 12 seasons of his career with Minnesota, that the Celtics were committed to building a contender. Garnett joined Allen and Boston mainstay Paul Pierce in July.

The new-look Celtics have jelled faster than expected, opening the season with just the fourth 23-3 start in franchise history to claim the league's best record.

Allen is scoring 19.3 points per game - his lowest average since the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season - but the 12-year veteran is enjoying unprecedented team success.

Meanwhile, the young Sonics (8-20) have stumbled out of the gate. Durant leads all rookies with 20 points per game, but he's shooting just 40.5 percent from the field - the lowest mark among players that rank among the league's top 10 in shots attempted.

Durant was 8-for-20 with 23 points, six rebounds and four assists as the Sonics lost 89-79 at Portland on Christmas Day.

"It really doesn't seem like Christmas. I'm used to sitting in the house and watching Kobe (Bryant) play," Durant said. "It's an honor playing on a great day like this, but it would have been better if we had gotten the win."

After losing their first seven home games, the Sonics have won four of their last six at KeyArena. The Celtics, meanwhile, own a league-best 9-2 road record.

Allen had a team-high 17 points as Boston beat Sacramento 89-69 in the opener of its four-game trip against Western Conference teams on Wednesday. The Celtics struggled in the third quarter, but held the Kings to 13 points in the fourth to pull away for their 12th victory in the last 13 games.

"If we play like we played in the first half I'm fine with being on the road," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "If we play like we did in the second half the road can be long. We just have to do a better job of executing on both ends."

The Celtics can match their win total from last season with a victory in Seattle. They split two meetings with the Sonics last season en route to a 24-58 finish.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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