When the Miami Heat acquired Ray Allen via free agency, speculation mounted surrounding the potential for an offense of legendary proportions. With the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh under contract, adding the most decorated three-point shooter in NBA history would certainly push this team over the top.
The truth of the matter is, the three-point shot is only part of the equation. Allen finally gives LeBron the clutch shooter he has always needed.
Although James' shortcomings in clutch situations are often overstated, there is no way around how brilliant Allen has been with the game on the line. Whether in Milwaukee, Seattle or Boston, Allen has been the go-to player in the final minutes of close contests.
Whether during the regular season or the playoffs, Allen has proven time and time again why he's the most decorated jump shooter of all time. Now with one of our generation's great facilitators by his side, one can only expect Allen to produce at an even higher level.
LeBron is a master of the drive-and-dish. Allen is a legend with the catch-and-shoot. Could there be a more perfect pairing?
With the game on the line, there isn't a better one in the NBA. A direct reason why Allen will mask James' greatest deficiency and provide The King with the player he has always needed.
A consistent spot-up shooter in the clutch.
Previous Batch Golden, Not Quite Clutch
During the 2012 NBA Playoffs, we learned one very important fact about the Miami Heat. Even when their stars weren't shining, their three-point shooting was lethal enough to pace the team to victory.
Mike Miller, James Jones, Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers assured us of that truth.
What the team lacked, however, was the type of player who could be turned to by default during clutch situations. This is why their previous batch of sharpshooters may have been golden, but they weren't quite clutch.
Enter Ray Allen.
Through 14 games of the 2012-13 NBA season, Allen is shooting 50.0 percent from the field and 50.0 percent from beyond the arc during the fourth quarter. With less than three minutes in the fourth, Allen is shooting 70.0 percent from the floor and 62.5 percent from distance.
Already Coming Up Big
Of the Miami Heat's 11 victories thus far in 2012-13, eight of their victories have come by 10 points or less. Three of those wins have come by one possession, while another has come in overtime.
In each of those games, Allen has hit momentum-shifting shots.
Against the Nuggets, Allen completed a four-point play with six seconds remaining. This brought the Heat from a 116-115 deficit to their eventual margin of victory at 119-116.
That capped off a fourth quarter in which Allen scored 12 of the team's 32 points.
Allen has also hit the game-winning three against Cleveland, a key three-pointer during a comeback win over Houston and the game-deciding jumper against Atlanta. That's only a small portion of what he's done through 14 games.
Against the Spurs, Allen was at it again. Allen scored five points in the final 22 seconds, including a three which brought the Heat from one point down to a lead of 100-98.
Nine seconds later, Allen would hit two free throws to secure the Heat's victory.
Clutch Burden Alleviated
The statement that LeBron James is not a clutch player is completely false. In fact, James is one of the better players in the NBA when it comes to the final minutes of a game.
LeBron just isn't an elite shooter when the game is on the line.
LeBron will dominate defensively and make the proper passes in said moments, but his shots rarely fall. Although Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh fill said role to near perfection, James has never had a teammate quite like Ray Allen.
A stone cold killer in the clutch whose jump shooting is virtually automatic.
During the 2011-12 NBA season, James shot 38.6 percent from the floor and 27.3 percent from beyond and the arc during clutch situations. Allen, meanwhile, went 44.4 percent from the floor and 50.0 percent from three in said scenarios.
In other words, James is no longer burdened with what has marred his game most severely.
What Allen now provides James with is the proper threat on the perimeter to open driving lanes in the closing seconds. This will allow LeBron to either take it to the hole for a high percentage look or kick it out to an open Allen whose man collapses on the dive.
As the video above alludes to.
In other words, it won't be LeBron taking a jump shot with the game on the line. It will be a player who is virtually automatic as he looks to convert his clutch attempts.
The legendary Ray Allen.