Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ray Allen in Full Playoff Hero form for Win Over New York

BOSTON – There has been frustration. There have been some quiet complaints and some lengthy explanations about the lack of movement in the offense. There was even the time in late March when Ray Allen, upset over having played 36 minutes in a loss to the Pacers and getting just eight field-goal attempts, walked out of the locker room without speaking to reporters after the game—a rare brush-off from one of pro sports’ most professional participants.

After a night like the one Ray Allen had on Sunday here at TD Garden, though, it’s easy to push all that tumult and tension aside. That’s because Allen was in full playoff-hero form in Game 1 against the Knicks, scoring 24 points on 9-for-15 shooting and knocking down the game-winning 3-pointer with 11.6 seconds to play, helping the Celtics avoid an upset with an 87-85 win.

The Boston Celtics sat three of its Big Four and fell into the third seed in the Eastern Conference.

That’s not to say that Ray Allen hasn’t been worried about shooting—or not shooting, as it were—over the past month or so. He’s been a muffled marksman of late, an awkward position for the game’s all-time leading 3-point shooter. Game 1 marked Allen’s first 20-point outing since March 19, a span of 12 games. That’s the longest run of sub-20-point games he has had since 1999. Allen averaged 12.3 points over this stretch, and simply wasn’t getting many looks at the basket, averaging just 9.7 shots per game.

Allen has linked his struggles to the Celtics’ overall struggles, especially their sudden inability to move the ball. That was a problem again in Game 1, but Boston was able to fight through it.

But there’s no question that as the Celtics fell into a late-season swoon, especially on the offensive end, Allen’s inability to get his scoring going was the most glaring weakness. Boston was 18-4 in the regular season when Allen topped 20 points. Finding a way to get him back on track is a necessity for this team’s postseason success — especially when there is a big shot that needs making, as with Ray Allen’s clinching 3-pointer. (Reference)

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