After weeks and weeks of us here at Celtics Hub dissecting every inch of Ray’s poor play this season, he explodes with 20 points on 8-12 shooting. Last night, his shots looked fluid and back-breaking. I felt this game was in the bag because Ray’s normal fair back-rims and rattles-home were replaced with smooth whip cracks. So this begs the question? Is Ray Allen back? Are his shooting woes over? In short, no.
Ray has been saying for weeks that his shot has felt good coming out of us hands, but lately it hadn’t found the bottom of the net. Perhaps rudimentary mechanics do not apply to Ray Allen. Perhaps the common excuses of ,”it slipped out of my hand,” or “I pushed it,” or “I didn’t get enough lift on it” just do not apply to a guy on his way to break the NBA three point record. The man has been near machine-like for years and the impending record breaking attests.
The only problem is, even machines’ get old. Machines wear down and cease to function as they once did. This may be why Ray Allen can’t (or won’t) admit what is really going on with his shot lately (save for last night). He might not be able to tell you. A car’s check engine light doesn’t tell you what’s wrong with it, it tells you to go see someone and find out. I don’t know about you, but I’m dying to find out.
A broken clock is right twice a day- which means Ray Allen will have games like the one he had last night again- but until I see him perform the way he did last night on a consistent basis, I will not say he is back. I can not say he’s back because he is not. 20 points on 8-12 is a great performance and exactly what the C’s needed from Ray last night. The problem lies in the fact that 20 points on 8-12 shooting should be the normal production the Celtics see from Ray Allen. Those numbers should be expected.
Probably more troubling than Ray Allen’s recent sub par play is that Ray nearly disappeared in the second half of the good game he was having. Last night, all four of Ray’s misses were from the second half and he only got one shot off in the fourth quarter- a desperation heave with 23 seconds left. I realize that the Celtics tried to play out the clock, get high percentage looks, and Ray Allen bombing threes was not in the game plan. My question to you is, should the game plan have changed at all?
The C’s have given away their fair share of leads this year which makes me feel as they do not know how to play with one. Instead of running sets, getting good shots, and fighting for boards, they hand off to the running back and hope he can pick up a few first downs. The Celtics throw it in the paint and let Perkins back his man down for a fade away jumper in the lane. Usually that shot is a pretty high percentage one, but Perk was getting double-teamed and forced to take these out of rhythm and hope for the best. The C’s stopped fighting for loose balls or rebounds in part because of foul trouble, but in part because they felt that, with a lead, it’s important to hustle back on defense and get into position. This doesn’t do squat if Rashard Lewis can drive past you for uncontested lay up.
You know the play I’m talking about- the one I’ve been avoiding for two posts now. The Celtics play 20 seconds of smothering defense, not giving up an inch and it’s all thrown away with an uncharacteristic “Olé” from Garnett. Garnett has this to say about the game:
“No, tonight was definitely not my night. The one thing about me is that I will continue to work and continue to try to get better. Hell, some nights you look good; some nights you look like (expletive). And this was one of those nights I looked like pure (expletive).
“I just played like (expletive). It’s on me.” (Per the Boston Herald)
Doc echoed this sentiment with his own analysis of KG’s play:
“He was late on a lot of stuff, late on our offensive plays. Sometimes you wake up and you just don’t have it. It might have been one of those nights.”
[WARNING: What I am about to type with sound asinine, insane, and hilarious- but scarily warrants:]
If KG is playing poorly (injured?) and you know it, than wouldn’t it be better to put Brian Scalabrine in to guard Rashard Lewis?
Before Scal haters jump down my throat, I need to point out a few things:
1) Did you see the smothering defense Scal put on Lewis in the first half? It was only for one play, but Scal moved his feet with Lewis and made him give up the ball after getting nowhere with a few dribbles and not being able to rise up over him. We needed Scal to do that on one more play, but he wasn’t given the opportunity.
2) Scalabrine could do no worse than what KG did. Garnett essentially let Lewis go straight to the bucket, which is uncharacteristic for so many reasons. KG believes in nothing easy, so I’m surprised there wasn’t a hack or even a grab on that play. The usually vocal Garnett also didn’t even muster a peep as he watched Lewis scoot around him for an easy layup. Shouldn’t Scalabrine have been given the chance to be embarrassed?
I don’t know if I just get weepy when I see the usually strong Garnett get blown by on a drive to the basket- or if I just can’t stand watching him hobble through a whole quarter of basketball and claim it had nothing to do with his knee. Whatever it is, Garnett and Allen are making me feel pretty low. I remember watching Larry Bird retire and not understanding why he would ever stop playing (okay I was six, leave me alone). The Celtics were a “young team” for so long that I haven’t gotten used to the thought of any of my beloved players hanging it up. Most of my favorite Celtics over the last ten years have been role players that more of less stopped getting phone calls- Walter McCarty, Eric Williams- so their exodus was much easier to take/ gloss over.
Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen are not done yet, but their days as elite players are numbered. Call it naivete, call it denial- call it blatant homerism if you want, but I didn’t think this day would come this year. Unfortunately, I can see Garnett and Allen declining sharply this season and into next season.
Someone, anyone, leave me some words of encouragement.