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Ray Allen’s Improbable Streak

 

Offensively, the Celtics put together a hell of a performance last night. Paul Pierce turned back the clock, putting together a tidy 27 points. Kevin Garnett provided himself as a reliable outlet in the post, hitting 4 of 6 shots in the paint on his way to 18 points. Rajon Rondo attacked the hoop with terrific aggressiveness, hitting 9 of 12 buckets, 6 of which came on layups.

Collectively, the team shot 56 percent, and it was the first time this series the C’s got above average nights from more than two members of The Big Four.

Nonetheless, with the team’s success there is one Celtic storyline that is falling under the radar and that is the outside shooting struggles of Ray Allen.

We all remember how he set the NBA Finals record with 8 3-point attempts made in game 2. Yet it has been easy to overlook just how much Ray has struggled with the deep ball over the rest of this series.

Consider this. After last night, Ray has now missed his last 18 3 point attempts. For Ray, it’s a good thing the Celtics are going to LA, because that’s where Allen left his shooting stroke, last hitting a 3 in the 3rd quarter of the Celtics Game 2 victory.  

Now I am sure a lot of people have missed 18 consecutive 3 point attempts in their NBA careers. Hell, I bet Antoine Walker did it multiple times. We aren’t talking about just anyone here though. We are doing about one of the best 3 point shooters in NBA history.

 I did some quick research through Ray’s game logs to see if I could find any compare slumps. After three full seasons of wearing Green I couldn’t find any string of games in his Celtic career that came close to Ray missing that many 3 point attempts. In fact, I think it’s a safe bet to say this is likely Ray’s longest 3 point shooting slump of his Hall of Fame career.

A couple things to consider from this development.

1) The Lakers are doing a much better job defending Ray.
Give credit where credit is due here. Ray has had some open looks, but not nearly as many as he accumulated throughout game 2. The Lakers are a strong team defending from beyond the arc, tops of the league during the regular season, so Ray’s struggling a bit shouldn’t be a huge shock.

2) The Celtics Aren’t Reliant on the 3 Ball

I talked a lot about this in a post before the series started:

Unlike 2008, the C’s don’t have to be reliant on the 3 ball in their offense.

Allow me to explain further. You see, for most of this regular season the C’s weren’t a great 3-point shooting team. They were though, terrific at taking shots inside the arc.

In fact, they led the league in that department, hitting their shots 52.3 percent of the time from two-point range. They also took a higher percentage of their field goal attempts as 2 pointers than almost any other team in the league as well, checking in with 79.8 percent of their shots as 2’s throughout the season.

Those trends have continued this postseason, with 78.5% of the C’s shots coming from 2 point range with the C’s hitting 48 percent of those attempts. Not as strong as the regular season, shooting wise, but still very solid numbers.

Noting this, it’s easy to see the C’s are not an offense predicated on shooting the 3 ball. All of their 3-point shooters are capable of creating their own shot inside the arc, and quite simply the team doesn’t have that many three-point shooters.

Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Rasheed Wallace and Rajon Rondo a couple times a game. That’s it. To compensate, the C’s have a bench of players like Wallace, Glen Davis and Tony Allen that are capable of creating their own shot, either in the post or driving to the basket. It can be limiting at times for the C’s when their limited number of outside shooters aren’t hitting, but also gives the team more reliable options of scoring the ball as a whole.

Fast forward to five games through this series and you can see the C’s gameplan has been predicated on shooting from the inside thus far. The C’s have only taken 13.6 3 point attempts per game, meaning a whopping 82 percent of their shots this series have come from 2 point range, hitting 49 percent of those 2 attempts.

Thanks to this, the C’s have been playing to their strength in this series, for the most part being unaffected by Ray’s cold shooting, minus his game 3 stinker. Besides Ray, the rest of the C’s have hit their 3′s at a 36 percent, choosing their spots well in taking them, which has helped Boston win multiple games this series.

3) If I’m the Lakers, I’m afraid about Ray over the rest of this series.
There’s two ways of looking at his struggles. One is to be happy about Ray being in a slump and hope you can continue to clamp down on him for the next two games. The Boston fan inside me though knows you can’t keep a great shooter like Ray down for this long, especially with Derek Fisher as his primary defender.

If you told the Lakers before this series started, they would have held Allen to 37 percent shooting from the field and 27 percent from 3 point range they would have taken it in a second. Now that they’ve done that and are still down 3-2 in this series is a sobering reality.

A shooter keeps shooting and Ray Allen is…..well he’s due. He has also come up big countless times this postseason away from TD Garden, especially in the Cleveland series.

I trust Ray to break that consecutive miss streak early on Tuesday Night and if he gets going early, while being surrounded by a similar kind of offensive production we saw out of KG and The Truth in Boston, the Lakers will be able to dust off their golf clubs by mid-week.

  • George

    You said before the series that regression to the mean was our friend with Kobe. It’s also our friend in this case with Ray, too then. Hell though, I’d be just as happy seeing him stick a few more of those turn-around bankers & under the basket layups. I think he’s due for a night of 4/6 from deep on Tuesday. Whether that has any bearing on the outcome of the game is anyone’s guess though.

  • Jay P

    Ray’s defense on Kobe has been amazing, and I don’t think there’s anyone in Basketball that could expend that kind of energy defensively, and then turn around and run through all the screens he does offensively.

    The guy basketball runs a marathon every night. Now I’m not saying this to argue that it is the reason his shot has been off. I just want to make the point that with or without his shots falling (and I too believe they well, at least a lot better than 0-18) he’s still valuable to the team. And teams will always respect his shot.

    You can see a very clear example of this in last nights game, when on a Rondo drive Vujabitch refused to help into the lane, and leave an open Ray Allen in the corner. Result: Easy lay-in for Rondo. This is the value of Ray Allen, defenders are not going to help off from the wing, and it opens up a lot of lanes.

  • http://celticshub.com Stephen

    I have been a bit dissapointed with Ray’s performance,however I am willing to cut Ray some slack here. Besides the 3rd quarter of yesterday’s game Ray has done a pretty damn good job on the defensive end. Kobe was lighting up one opponent after the other through the Western conference playoffs to the tune of some 52% shooting and that includes the 3 ball. What is Kobe shooting in this series? Maybe just above 40% overall. Chasing Kobe around is clearly affecting Ray’s production on the offensive end mostly because Ray isn’t getting the normal lift on his jumpshot . His legs are tired, but if Ray continues to force Kobe in to tough shots I think we could all care less whether or not Ray breaks out again on the offensive end. Who would have thought that Ray would effect the outcome of a series on the defensive end like he has thus far. Something tells me that at some point during game 6 that Ray is gonna come up big!!!!!

  • Bibek

    I wont be too worried about Ray. I dont think the defense is making him so. He shot 18 times. may be he is not full of confidence. he will gain it slowly. remember ray has been getting lot of time on court despite his poor shooting. im sure doc knows something that we dont. besides celtics are not one man dependent team.

  • Jay P

    He’s getting time because of the situations I mentioned above, defenders wont help off him, no matter how many shots he’s missed. They know what he’s capable of, and he will always help with spacing.

    Confidence is never an issue with Ray, he has a shooters mentality. He has complete amnesia with past shots, and prepares the same for every single game like clock work. No matter how many shots he’s missed, he’s 100% sure the next one will go on.

    There is no explanation for Ray’s 27% shooting from 3-pt other than complete statistical anomaly. He’ll be fine, and he continues to help this team in so many other ways that don’t appear on stat sheets.

  • urbeltic

    The fact, in my opinion, is that Fish is playing tough gritty defense, fighting over/through/around screens, and flopping with reckless abandon. A dastardly combo. A slump is a slump, but you got give credit to the Fish man for his D.

    That said, I loved the two under the basket shots Ray had last game…where he caught the ball under the hoop and basically shot over his head backwards. It shows howmuch the Lakes are overplaying him off screens.

  • Coolin

    Like everyone has said his defense has mattered the most in this series. As long as he gets the Celtics 12-14 pts. in Game 6 and gaurds Kobe like he has been, than that is all I will want and expect out of him. Keep Kobe around 40% shooting and that is even better than Ray going for big numbers.

    On the other hand I do expect Ray to connect on a few threes tomorrow.

  • inolongerhatemarquisdaniels(causehenolongerplays)

    I think Ray is more comfortable in hostile territory… I’ve heard him say that he rather knock down a big three on the road than at home

    @ J P- Ray is streaky… has been throughout his Celtics career anyways. I dont believe that he has complete amnesia about previous shots though… Its hard to be impervious to past failures and I think he blocks out the negative with greater ease than the vast majority of NBA players

    However, he is not flawless by any means- Case in point- missing 3 fts in a row against Miami… A fluke, perhaps, but you could see it in his face… he was stunned, mystified, and frankly him missing the 3rd wasnt all that surprising to me cause his typical composure and routine before every ft was absent

    I think Ray has been viewed by most as the 4th most valuable member of this Celtics squad… Granted, I’m a little biased but I think his role is the most integral role to the Cs success… Yes rondo is the quarterback and yes PP is the rawest scorer but Ray makes everyone on his team just so much better… His unselfishness is great

    His best 3 point opportunity last night came and instead of taking the shot he dished to PP for a corner 3 cause it was the correct basketball play… that type of unselfishness cannot be undervalued…. (I bet PP would have taken that shot more than half the time)

    Ray along with KG I think are the guys that really make this team roll…. obviously everyone is important and I dont mean to take anything away from the truth or Rondo… its just that they are flashier than the other guys and if one of the Cs win the mvp it’ll most likely go to either Rondo or Pierce

    KG and Ray are great even when their greatness isnt reflected on the stat sheet… whereas Rondo’s and Pierce’s greatness often does show up in the box score

    KG can shoot 2-11 with only 4 boards and he will still find ways to help his team to win… His assists / blocks / and steals make him in my opinion the most dynamic big man in the NBA

  • Coolin

    @ inlong: When Ray Allen is open and Paul Pierce has the ball he dishes to Ray 75% of the time. He knows how important it is to get Ray open looks. It sometimes makes me mad, but Paul is a team player and is not out there to get his numbers. Paul to an extent is almost too unselfish sometimes.
    That three that Paul had in the corner in Game 5 he first dished to Ray and then Ray dished back to him.

  • Coolin

    @ inolong: If anyone is selfish with the ball it is Ray, he has a hard time giving it up once it is in his hands. I don’t dislike Ray, but you are obviously seeing him from a whole different perspective than I do. As long as he keeps up his defense I will be happy with him.

  • Nick C.

    I think that Ray’s mere presence spreads the floor for the Celtics, even when he’s not hitting 3′s. He’s kind of the Randy Moss of the Celtics’ offense. I think Allen could explode with the defense perhaps focusing more on Pierce and Garnett in Game 6

  • trindog

    I love the fact that Ray isnt letting his shooting slump effect the rest of his game. His mid range game is on, his defense has been superb, and he always seems to make the right play. His mere presence on the court is big for the Cs because he provides spacing on the court. he could be 0 for the series and LA would still be afraid to double off of him because they know he is capable of hitting the next shot

  • eric

    Ray Allen has had the Celtics best plus/minus differential over the last 3 seasons and he was best in that department by a mile in 2010. That shows exactly how important he is to the team and why Doc keeps him playing even when he’s in a slump. He does make everyone play better and spaces out the floor better than anyone. The magic of this team success is the mixture of weapons and styles the big four bring to the table. It’s very difficult for any team to be able to stop everyone at the same game. We always have someone who can carry the load and that makes the Celtics a brilliant team and great example of team work.

  • dslack

    His son was hospitalized in the last game. From how he performed pre/post trade deadline, we have a good idea that his shooting % responds to his mental/emotional state. I hope his son is okay now; I can’t imagine going to work in those circumstances (then again, I’m not paid nearly $20M to go to work).

  • Shooter

    His son being ill might have something to do with it, but i can def see the difference in his release in game 2 and games 3-4-5.

  • Evan

    @Shooter: I know what you mean but if you’re so detail-oriented you would notice his release from his first few shots–and as his confidence in his shot grew during the first half–you would notice the change in release throughout the game. He started as he always does, and as they kept falling, his release became more and more confident. Anyway.

  • brian

    @Nick: fantastic analogy of ray allen to randy moss. I couldn’t think of two personalities that are more different, but both present a constant offensive threat that cannot be ignored. Ray is far more than an offensive threat though, no need to repeat what’s already been said above.

    This series has truly been a team effort. Just about everyone who sees action has had moments of brilliance and disappointment, but the team balance and depth is what has given them the 3-2 edge.

  • Perry

    Ray hit some timely baskets in game 5, and was part of that amazing group that won game 4. JP makes great points about his ability to space the floor, and the energy he’s sacrificing on defense. As long as his FGA continues to come within the offensive sets we shouldn’t stress over his 3 point shooting percentage.

  • Marc

    Ray Allen is my favorite player, and i think his going to get his 3-point shots back and in game 7 his going to hit those open shot at the three point line….

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