Some may point to Ray Allen’s blistering 7-9 three point shooting against the Heat last night and say “well if he doesn’t shoot like that, the Heat probably win—it was just bad luck he was so hot.” And it’s true that a player making his first seven threes has only happened a handful of times in NBA history. But Ray Allen isn’t Latrell Sprewell (who once opened 9-9 before finishing 9-14 from deep), he’s the greatest three point shooter ever. So, you might want to put some pressure on him, something the Heat failed miserably to do last night.
Here’s a breakdown of all seven of Allen’s three point makes:
1st Qtr 11:11 – Rondo, Garnett and Allen in “triangle” formation on the left side. Allen cuts off of a baseline screen from Garnett who then posts, Rondo enters the ball into Garnett. As Garnet spins baseline, Dwayne Wade comes off of Allen to help, Garnett kicks to the weakside corner where Allen is wide open. Splash.
2nd Qtr 5:20- Wade drives past Allen to the basket but can’t convert. D3 hesitates a moment to stink face the officials. Meanwhile Allen makes his way up the left wing as Rondo pushes down the left center. Spotting Allen wide open, Rondo drives in front of Ray and drops off the ball a la Nash to trailing Nowitzki and Ray obliges him with a buttery trey as Wade crosses half court.
2nd Qtr 2:45- Out of a baseline out of bounds set, Rondo catches Wade with his back to the ball and passes to Allen, who is standing in the weakside corner, before the out of bounds play even gets going. Wade has his back to the baseline anticipating Allen’s cut across the middle and can’t see the pass until it’s far too late. Ray’s already made 100 of these standstill bombs in warmups.
2nd Qtr 1:45- A minute later, Allen strikes again, this time off of a classic Celtics stagger screens from Shaq and Garnett on the right side. James Jones loses Allen early and cannot contest.
3rd Qtr 9:53- Wade blows past Allen but cannot score over Shaq. Wade looks sullen as Allen, already further up court because he couldn’t stay in front of Wade, takes off. Rondo wheels into the front court, spots Allen with no Miami player within 20 feet, passes it to the man—and boom goes to dynamite.
3rd Qtr 2:04- Pierce and Garnett execute a middle pick and roll from the left wing as Big Baby crashes the left block to make it difficult to rotate to the popping Garnett. Garnett catches but Haslem is right on him as Bosh, who originally hedged from Garnett onto Pierce, races back to cover Davis. Wade also rotates to Davis, leaving Allen wide open in the weak side corner. Davis catches and kicks out to Rondo who has cut into the middle of the floor and who immediately swings to a wide, wide, wide open Allen. Ssschwack!
4th Qtr 7:03- The Celtics claim an offensive rebound (not their strong suit) and in the scuffle for the ball James Jones forgets that he’s guarding a guy who’s already made six threes. Jones sags into the middle of the paint as Allen relocates to the weakside corner (sound familiar?). Rondo finds him using his innate Allen GPS and Ray rings the register one last time.
As you can see from this breakdown, Allen only stroked one three pointer out of the Celtic’s famously cruel (and usually illegal) stagger screen sets. His final attempt of the night, which he missed, came out of this look, but Haslem rotated for a hard contest. As a result, Baby was left open, but Allen couldn’t find him and bricked the shot.
Two of his makes came when Wade failed to hustle back on defense after attacking the basket, two came from Wade rotating, perhaps unnecessarily, to help in the post, and two came from James Jones being James Jones and completely losing the game’s best shooter.
The takeaway? Allen did not make one three over a hard contest. Not that it always matters– Allen has hit his share of leaning 26 footers with a guy in his chest—but when he has opportunity to jog into a transition three or set up unmolested on the weakside, it’s unlikely he’ll miss. Ever.
The Heat shouldn’t see his performance as a fluke. This was Allen doing what he does best, and the Heat defenders showing a disheartening lack of awareness.