There’s a commercial running on ESPN and NBA TV during the playoffs showing Ray Allen launching countless jumpers. He takes shot, after shot, after shot but the elbow stays the same. The message: unbroken habits lead to broken records.
That motto is the very reason why Allen is considered the best 3-point shooter in NBA history. His form is immaculate and his confidence never wavered. And now you can add resilient and tough-minded to his resume.
After a pitiful performance in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals in which he scored just six points and was 1-for-4 from behind the arc and missed four of his seven free throw attempts, the Ray Allen of old has resurfaced and the Celtics have erased an 0-2 deficit in this series and are now two games away from reaching the NBA Finals.
“With him it’s just balance. When you have a bad foot, ankle or anything your balance is off and you could see that in Ray. The ball is going left a lot. He’s one of the greatest shooters of all time. Ray is gonna try to figure it out, we’re gonna try to figure it out,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said of his shooting guard, who is nursing a sore right ankle. It’s an injury that forced him to miss 17 of 22 games in one stretch this season.
Prior to Game 2 of the conference finals, Allen made just 13 of his 43 field goals and 6-for-28 from 3-point range. Both are far below his standards. He’s a career 45% shooter from 3-point range and nearly 90% from the free throw line.
“It’s real simple — health,” said former Orlando Magic sharp-shooter Dennis Scott, who now works as an analyst for NBA TV. “We know Ray is not 100 percent. You look at his career you know he’ll knock down wide open shots, contested shots. But you don’t see the spring, you don’t see the bounce, you don’t see that rhythm we’re used to seeing Ray Allen has.”
Brent Barry says Allen’s injury is not only affecting his shot but it is impacting parts of his game. “He went 3-for-7 from the free throw line [against Miami in Game 1]. He hasn’t missed four three throws in a game since 2006. He’s gotta get it going, otherwise Doc is gonna have to go elsewhere and do other things.
“But Ray is going to fight through it. He’ll be there early and often, hopefully he gets going.”
Allen has gotten it going again, scoring 13 points (including a huge 3-pointer) in Game 2, 10 in Game 3 and 16 in Game 4. The Celtics were able to win two of the last three games in the series because Allen’s shot has significantly improved and it has opened up the floor for Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Rajon Rondo. Allen was 4-for-11 from behind the arc in 46 minutes Sunday in Boston, a game the Celtics badly needed to win to put a little heat on Miami and guarantee at least a Game 6 in Boston.