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What Are The Celtics Getting From Ray Allen?

Game 5 belonged to Brandon Bass. He, of the 18-point, season saving third quarter, put one of the world’s most accurate jump shots on display, playing with a confidence that allowed him to frolic through passing lanes on defense and snatch rebounds from his own teammates. Bass was the unlikely hero; the much needed savior. It is he who stepped up, and he who deserves to wear the crown until Game 6 tips off on Wednesday night.

But Bass will be the first to tell you he didn’t do it alone. The Sixers are a very good defensive basketball team that’s more than capable of using their athletic advantage on most opponents, stripping away something they’re comfortable with and like to rely on. When they do, windows open, and big games hinge on whether or not unsung fillers of void are able to step up and climb through. Even though he hasn’t napalmed a crowd in quite some time, Ray Allen’s shot remains a legitimate strength for this Celtics team, and the Sixers have not forgotten

It’s been stressed time and time again that when he’s on the court, Allen holds the defense’s attention in the palm of his hand, like a swimsuit model scampering through a frat house. All eyes are on him at all times, and forgetting he’s there could, and probably will, lead to extensive regret. Here are two examples that show just how important Allen can be, even on a 2-7 shooting night.

The first play is a simple one. With Allen in the corner, and Pierce playing dumb on the wing, the Celtics take two of Philadelphia’s defenders right out of the play. The success of the Sixers’ defense is rooted in smart rotations and fabulous help from the weak side. Here, Doc Rivers has placed Ray in a position to neutralize that without exerting any pressure on his brittle ankles. Elton Brand and Jrue Holiday aren’t the same as a five-man swarming unit, and there’s simply no way they can stop Rajon Rondo by themselves. This happened several times throughout the game, but what strikes me about this particular play is how insanely tight Jodie Meeks is playing Allen. As the Celtics run their two man game to perfection, Meeks and Allen stand idly in the corner, looking like two guys patiently waiting in the popcorn line at a movie theatre. This is the respect and fear Ray Allen’s jumper has even when it’s been off for weeks.

The next is a play Kenny Smith highlighted on Inside the NBA. As Rondo attracts the strong side attention, Ray drags Lou Williams from the corner to the wing, giving his teammates more than enough space to operate. The result is Brandon Bass’ 56th dunk of the night.

Monday night, Allen played 20 more minutes than Greg Stiemsma, but scored half as many points. According to the box score, he wasn’t even the most productive “Allen” on the court (LaVoy Allen, Boston’s great unexpected headache, scored 12 points on six perfect shots). It’s been strange to watch Ray struggle in areas where he’s normally a model of perfection. It’s almost like we take them for granted. For crying out loud, he’s shooting 60 percent from the free-throw line! This is RAY ALLEN, we’re talking about. One of the greatest free-throw shooters in the history of basketball. He could shoot free-throws in a gym for five straight hours and miss five or six. Somehow, in these playoffs, he’s missed eight in nine games. It’s made me believe in the existence of Alien life.

Then again, he is human (I think). Even when we’re discussing the greatest to ever do it, a shooter’s touch comes and goes. But here’s where Ray Allen separates himself from most other one-dimensional spot up shooters: He’s one of the game’s purest professionals. If incapable of raining down three-pointers, he finds other ways to contribute, and last night he did just that. The Celtics aren’t running Ray around the baseline through double screens, and a big reason they lost Game 4, I felt, was their insistence on force feeding him in situations where his ankles simply didn’t allow an opening. But on Monday night he made the adjustment; he was spectacular in the tiniest of ways that have most likely already been forgotten.

First I’d like to discuss his defense on Evan Turner. For much of the time these two were on the court, Allen shadowed him, forcing him into uncomfortable shots and making him work for everything he had, on every single possession. Turner attempted 13 shots, tying Brand for the most on his team, but with Allen guarding him he only made one of them, according to Synergy.

Then there was “The Rebound”. A play I’d like to embellish for no defined reason other than I thought it was a great example of someone going outside their normal comfort zone to help a basketball team win a game. Ray plucked one offensive board out of the air in his 33 minutes of play, and the one proved to be quite important.

When it happened, the Celtics trailed by five against a relentless Sixers barrage of shots that never seemed to miss. Boston was doing the doggy paddle as Philadelphia looked to be executing a beautiful butterfly stroke; in order to prevent them from swimming away, at the time, every offensive possession was crucial. Allen read the ball off the rim, darted to enemy territory, and kept the possession alive. (Pierce would eventually end the play with two made free-throws.)

I won’t venture towards hyperbolizing who Ray Allen is and how magnificent his current abilities are at this stage in his Hall of Fame worthy career. He scored five points last night, and missed four three-pointers, a majority of which were wide open and with plenty of time to line up his body. But Monday night was quiet brilliance from a well-mannered man doing his best to help in any way he can. To say the Celtics won Game 5 without his contribution would be to ignore just how valuable this guy continues to be.

Twitter: @ShakyAnkles

  • r4zor

    while on defense, he's nowhere near bradley's level, his contributions despite his injury, is noteworthy. i'm glad an article praising ray allen has finally cropped up. he is a true warrior! same as all celtics!!

  • ash

    Great points and examples. Go ray!

  • Jim

    Ray Allen has the heart of a champion. He is playing hurt and never complains. He is an example for us all. I love the guy!!

    • felix

      absolutely agree. Ray Ray will be a factor sooner or later, especially if they make it to the next round.

  • tbunny

    Here's the problem for the defense: if Ray is running through the pain, and he is, how do they know when he won't drop a couple bombs on them at a critical point in the third or fourth quarter? Answer: they don't.

  • srb

    my brother and I noticed the defense a few times this series. He's making Turner or whoever he happens to be guarding look uncomfortable and just generally making it hard for them to move with the ball. He's really putting in a lot of effort, even after losing both his starting job and his shooting touch for a while.

  • Josh

    Ray's my 2nd fave player ever, but I have been pretty hard on him lately. His FT misses are completely on him, and thats inexcusable. However, His bone-spurry ankles are affecting his J, so I believe Doc needs to run more plays for Ray right when he gets in the game, when hes fresh.

  • High Rollers

    @ChubMP I concur, Doctor. 100%. No matter how shaky his ankles, when Ray and the C’s do it right, #20 is still the cure for an anemic offense. A dropoff in physical capacities simply necessitates a rise in an already impressive overall team IQ. C’s been there, done that. Hoping for the checkmate tonight.

  • NHBluesMan

    so, i couldn't think of any other place to put this comment, but here is good enough…

    I had a realization the other day that the Celtics are like the Avengers….

    Paul Pierce- Captain America, the old school warrior and leader of the group

    KG- the Hulk, because as Atlanta ownership learned, you won't like him when he's angry

    Ray- Hawkeye, the quiet but deadly sharpshooter

    Rondo- Iron Man, some folks question his behavior, but when he's locked in there's no question why he's there

    Bradley- Black Widow (it's the only one that fit) he's underestimated, but his specific skill-set makes him very deadly

    Doc- Nick Fury, the mastermind behind the team

    and lastly….

    Grem Stiemsma- Thor, purely because they're both blonde, have faithful followers in their homeland, and Steamer brings the hammer down with his shot blocking

    Celtics Hub fella's- you should do this as it's own post and complete it with photo-shopped pics

    • High Rollers

      Nice! But I don't think anybody underestimates a Black Widow. At least, I wouldn't.

      Speaking of Agent Zero… who's going to build AB a bionic shoulder or two so he can return to these playoffs?

      • felix

        Doc Brown. With 1.21 gigawatts. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnqtXOi1iaY

        • felix

          and a little plutonium of course.

      • NHBluesMan

        maybe 'underestimated' was the wrong choice of word… i was just thinking of the scenes where she kicks the Russian mob guys asses and tricks Loki into telling her his plan when i picked it

    • Josh

      Hahaha this is disturbingly accurate!

    • janos

      Rondos Superman

  • High Rollers

    That Miami/Indy series is making ours look downright dainty. It's bonkers. Both of those teams are putting on an epic display of whiny and mean, the likes of which I don't think I've seen before. And Legend's throwing out that four letter word (s-o-f-t) about his own team.

    Man, I hope it goes two more games!

    • NHBluesMan

      if the league hands out some suspensions (especially to Haslem) then i think it could go to 7, but Indy needs EVERYONE to step up big in order to win game 6, even if it's on their home floor.

      I'm really hoping the C's get the W tonight so they can get some extra rest, and the MIA/IND series goes to 7 to keep tiring those guys out

    • Anthony

      I'm curious to see how the league handles all the flagrant fouls. DWade already got away with his flagrant foul on Collison a couple of games ago. I would think Haslem deserves 1-2 games minimum and Pittman deserves 7-10 games first time offender or not. Even Artest elbow on Harden could be argued as unintentional but Pittman was malicious with intent to hurt. And I think Stephenson suffered a broken collar bone from that elbow.

      • Josh

        I would comment on Dexter Pittman's foul but his life doesn't deserve my words. Therefore I am throwing this out there: C's win a meat grinder in OT. Hopefully Rondo f**ks around and gets a triple double.

  • CG12

    I'm sure I could wait to address this later, when it gets its own post, but it is a flat-out joke that Rondo made second-team all-defense. The aggressive D he has played in spurts this post-season makes it clear how little effort he puts into it most of the time. He is coasting on his steals per game stats and his reputation from when he actually played defense four years ago. That is what is so frustrating – it isn't that he can't play defense. He just doesn't want to. Avery over Rondo or CP3.

    • The Cardinal

      I was thinking pretty much the same thing but wondering if he goes into coasting mode because of the physical punishment he takes driving to the basket and bouncing off so many picks? I believe he gets beat up worse than anyone I've seen since Allen Iverson, and I really believe he picks his spots to up his intensity because of the constant, nagging injuries and the length of time the C's need him on the floor.

      I'm not making excuses, but I don't believe anyone else in the league gets consistently hammered like Rondo does, so he takes his "moments" when he feels he can. Anyhow, that's my theory.

  • Anthony

    Ray's effort has been admirable this post-season on both ends of the floor.

    I fully expect a "normal" Ray type of game tonite – 15+ effective points.

    Celts WILL close out the series tonite.