NBA: Donít expect Allen to stop shooting
By Jimmy Golen
BOSTON ó The Boston Celtics expect Ray Allen to rediscover his shooting touch before the Big Three becomes the Big Two and championship No. 17 becomes a pipe dream.
The Celtics advanced to the Eastern Conference finals and took a 1-0 lead over the Detroit Pistons without much scoring from Allen, an eight-time All-Star closing in on 20,000 career points. In Bostonís 88-79 victory Tuesday, Allen had just nine points ó none of them on outside shots.
iIíve scored a lot in my career,î Allen said after staying late, as usual, to practice his jumpers at the Celticsí practice facility in Waltham on Wednesday. iBut itís good to be in this position, where Iím not going to let itî affect the rest of the game.
The Celtics acquired Allen on draft day last summer to start the offseason overhaul that led to the most dramatic turnaround in NBA history. With Allen and mainstay Paul Pierce in the fold, Kevin Garnett agreed to the unprecedented 7-for-1 trade that completed their conversion from a 24-58 record in 2006-07 to an NBA-best 66-16 this year.
The three All-Stars invited comparisons to the original Big Three of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish, who won the last of Bostonís league-record 16 titles in the 1980s. But as the playoffs heat up this time, Pierce and Garnett are carrying the scoring load with little help from Allen.
From the last game of the first-round series against Atlanta to the first game against Detroit, Allen is averaging nine points on 31 percent shooting. After scoring in single-digits only six times during the regular season, has done it five times in 15 playoff games, including an 0-for-4 in Game 1 against Cleveland ó his first shutout since he was a rookie in 1997.
iRayís a part of the Boston Celtics, and the Boston Celtics are winning,î Garnett said, dismissing the idea that Allen needed emotional support. iIím sure itís not his first shooting slump, and itís definitely not his last.
iSo I donít have any sympathy for Ray Allen. I think heís playing great basketball.î
The Celtics wasted no time trying to get Allen involved in Game 1, running a play for him on the very first possession; he missed. Allen missed another jumper but the next time down kicked it out to Pierce for an assist and then drove to the basket for a layup.
Before the quarter was over, he would add an emphatic dunk that left him swinging from the rim to avoid the players below him. But he also fired up an air ball on a 3-point attempt and hasnít made one of those in three games.
iIím not worried about it. Iím really not,î Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. iWeíre winning games, and Rayís making plays.î
In fact, none of the Celtics would express a concern about Allenís slump ó iif you want to call it that,î Garnett said.
And none of the Pistons would consider the prospect of leaving Allen open and challenging him to beat them.
iRay is a good shooter, and heís going to shoot the ball, no matter what,î Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. iI donít treat him what heís done over the week; I treat him what heís done over his career.î
Detroitís Richard Hamilton wouldnít even wait for the end of the question before shaking his head, emphatically, iNo.î
iYou can never think that heís going to keep missing,î he said before Detroit practiced at Emerson Collegeís downtown gym Wednesday. iIf you start leaving him open, he can get hot.î
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