3 Reasons Ray Allen Is Key for the Miami Heat's Repeat of Last Season
Boston fans certainly felt a bit betrayed, as Allen left the Celtics for the very team that had knocked them out of the playoffs in the two previous years. People understood, however, that the veteran guard simply wanted to give himself the best possible chance to win another championship.
Early in this NBA season, Allen's 18th, it appears that his role in Miami might be a lot more important than people had thought. Through five games, the 37-year-old is averaging more than 28 minutes and over 14 points per contest.
Rather than play the role of the veteran that will ride the bench and hope to come out of it with a ring, Allen looks more like a vital piece of the 2012-13 Miami Heat. Here are three reasons that Allen's arrival in South Beach could be key to the Heat's bid to defend their title.
The Heat's Three-Point Shooting Has Room to Improve
The Heat weren’t a bad three point shooting team last season—they just didn’t try all that much.
Miami averaged just 15.6 attempts per game from beyond the arc, and made a respectable 5.6 of them. Their percentage was actually among the 10 best in the league, but they were 23rd in attempts.
The addition of one of the best three-point shooters in the history of the NBA might change that a little bit. Allen probably won’t be jacking up eight threes a night like he did during his prime years in Seattle, but even if he knocks down one or two a game, it will boost the team’s perimeter shooting and add a lot of scoring over the course of the season.
Miami is clearly giving Allen the green light thus far—the sharpshooter is averaging more than four three-point attempts per game through five contests, and the Heat have made the third most of any team from beyond the arc.
Allen Gives Heat a Great Last-Shot Option
With all the talent in Miami, one would think that the last thing the Heat would be looking for is another candidate for last-shot duty in close games.
Lebron James has been endlessly scrutinized for his willingness to pass up that last shot, however, and it’s a coaching nightmare to try to choose between James and Dwayne Wade when the game is on the line. Unless the shot goes in every time, the decision will be criticized.
What if Allen was the designated guy for those shots? He’s been that guy for years on other teams, and scientists are 98 percent sure that there actually is ice water flowing through his veins.
The Heat could run a play for him in every buzzer-beater situation and, if the defense catches on, Allen would have options like James, Wade, Chris Bosh and even sharpshooter Mike Miller to dish to. When every guy on the floor is a capable big shot threat, what’s not to love?
Allen's Has Veteran Leadership
Allen has been in the NBA for a long time. He’s a very intelligent player and he knows how this game—and this league—works about as well as anyone who still competes on a nightly basis.
He has played out what most would describe as the definition of a respected, successful career. Regardless of how Celtics fans feel right now about him jumping ship for Miami, at the end of the day nobody would deny that Allen ranks among the NBA’s classiest players.
In his first season in Boston, Allen experienced winning an NBA Championship—an experience he now shares with the current members of the Heat. An even more crucial experience Allen has already undergone is the difficulty of defending that title. This is something that, aside from Wade and Udonis Haslem, the Heat have yet to experience.
Allen’s Celtics were an elite team for at least two years after their 2007-08 championship, and yet they failed to win another title. It’s clear that Allen came to Miami because he wants one more title before he retires, and he couldn’t have arrived at a better time for the Heat.
We know the Heat are the team to beat in the NBA right now, but that just puts even more pressure on the defending champions.
The guidance Allen can give to guys like James and Bosh, who are set on winning not one, not two, not three, but as many championships as possible will be invaluable this season.