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NBA / Jun 8, 2010 / 10:00 am

The Jekyll & Hyde Of Ray Allen

Ray Allen covers Dime #11

Much has been made about the surprising way Boston stole Game 2 Sunday night. Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol combined to dominate the Celtics’ frontline with a combined 46 points and 13 blocked shots. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were about as timid and unemotional as they’ve ever been in the playoffs. But, it was Rajon Rondo providing the dirtiness and Ray Allen, biblical in his shooting prowess, who smoothly snatched the game – and maybe the series – out of the Lakers’ grip.

After breaking down what Rondo needed to do to change his level of play in Game 2, let’s dissect how Jesus turned around his game in the Celtics’ win.

As Ray Allen noted after Game 1, he wasn’t all that concerned with the way he played during the opener. He said it felt like he wasn’t even out there. That’s a fair assessment: foul problems limited him to 27 minutes, 11 off his playoff average, and a dozen points after coming in with a 17.3 playoff average.

Contrary to what many Southern Californians will say, that was an atypical performance for perhaps the best shooter ever to walk the planet. It was almost predictable Allen would get it going quickly in Game 2. His intensity was apparent even three hours before the game while warming up.

What makes Allen so special is his ability to hit deep shots from virtually anywhere, in any position and off any move. Most long-range shooters prefer to rub off screens on their right shoulder because when they rise up to shoot, it is much easier to remain on balance and bring the ball into the shooting position.

Allen is money coming both ways. Not only that, but he showcased throughout his career, especially in Milwaukee and Seattle, that he can shoot it off the dribble as well.

The problem the Lakers ran into on Sunday was that while Allen is a spectacular jump shooter coming off screens, pin-downs and off the dribble, he is downright scary as a standstill one. And that’s exactly what they allowed him to be in the first half.

Besides the first three that he hit, in transition and off of a Glen Davis screen, every long-range shot Allen made was catch-n-shoot. Some of that was poor defense, but more of it was caused by Rondo’s aggressiveness. Three times in the second quarter, Rondo found Allen open in transition for threes. In fact, it was comical how similar all three plays appeared: Rondo rebounds, Rondo pushes it up the center of the court, Allen runs up the right side, Rondo finds him, Allen takes a split second to release the shot, Allen is wet. This was supposed to be the NBA Finals; instead, it looked like a three-on-two fast break drill.

In the half-court, Boston’s bigs are some of the league’s best screeners. It is a well-known fact that Garnett has gotten away with hundreds of illegal screens throughout his career and seems to have passed along this trait to Kendrick Perkins. All joking aside, there were multiple instances in Game 2, often on the same possession, where Fisher was decked as he shadowed Allen.

Kobe Bryant was also burned. While he did do a great job for the most part guarding the sharpshooter, Bryant tried to go over the screen one too many times (one of the worst things a defender can do when checking a dead-eye shooter). Allen faded into the left corner and got a wide-open three.

Actually, no one could stick with Allen last night. Shannon Brown got burnt not once, but twice on the simplest aspect of guarding a shooter: keeping a body on him. With Boston up 39-28 late in the second quarter, Brown not only left Allen’s side, but did it to help on Perkins on the block. Allen sidestepped to the left wing and got a wide-open shot.

Then, in the third quarter, Brown did it again. L.A. had finally come all the way back from a 14-point deficit to take a 66-65 lead when Allen made his record-breaking eighth trey of the game. Davis picked up an offensive rebound and with Brown stupidly crashing into the lane, kicked it out to Allen. Once again alone on the left wing, it was only a formality that Jesus was going to cash in.

To their credit, the Lakers did play him better in the second half. Their bigs, particularly Bynum, did a great job of hedging out and limiting Rondo’s passing lanes. Also, Derek Fisher did whatever he could to stick to his hip.

But realistically, there was probably nothing the Lakers could’ve done in Game 2 to cool Allen off. In Game 3, expect Fisher to continue to be extremely physical with him. Depending on how the referees call it, the Lakers’ point guard will hold, scratch and grab as often as possible. Bryant should only see spot duty on Jesus; he gambles and tries to go over screens too often. While he is a great defender, he often has lapses of concentration and looses trace of Allen after the first few trips down.

Perhaps the biggest key for L.A. will be slowing the Celtics fast break chances. In the Garden, Boston thrives off their runs. These are normally keyed through Rondo’s attacks that lead to open shots for Allen and Pierce. While the Lakers’ have been poised and efficient on the road throughout these playoffs, they will have to be at their most proficient in Boston.

Allen’s shooting gave Rondo the space he needed to post another triple-double. That shooting is essentially the only way Boston can stretch out the Gumby-length of L.A. If he can continue to shoot like he did in Game 2, and in the 2008 Finals, Boston’s offense should work smoothly.

Through the first two games, we saw the Jekyll & Hyde of Ray Allen. However, both sides should expect Allen to perform at a level closer to Sunday night rather than Game 1 the rest of the series. Limiting him in Boston will be essential for L.A. to bounce back.

What do you think?

Follow Sean on Twitter at @SEANesweeney.

Follow Dime on Twitter at @DIMEMag.

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  • Heckler

    it aint no Jekyll n Hyde act. every great player in this series will have their stamp on a game. or maybe even two. Ray Allen had his in game 2.

    Ron Artest will have his stamp on a game. Lamar Odom will have a stamp at some point. so will Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. even Derek Fisher and Rasheed Wallace will have their imprint on a game or at least an important sequence.

    aint no surprises here. def not jekyll n hyde.

  • Ian

    nash is the best shooter in the league

  • shourjo

    Wouldn’t have called KG or Pierce timid necessarily. KG picked up fouls with overzealous defense. He was poor on the offensive end again. The term I would have gone with would be more like ineffective. Similar story with Pierce who got alot of deflections and tips. It was Pierce who dove to the floor to tip the loose ball past the half-court line after Fisher got blocked by Rondo. Again, he was ineffective on the offensive end, clearly, but seemed to have brought it on the defensive end. Again, timid is poor word choice. If you want to keep writing content for a living, considering checking your local bookstore for a thesaurus and/or dictionary.

  • http://dimemag.com Sean Sweeney

    @Heckler Ray Allen is typically consistent. However, the difference between how he played in Game 1 and 2 allows for a description like Jekyll & Hide to work.

    @shourjo Ineffective would work, but so does timid. If you don’t think KG was timid for much of the game, especially in the 4th, then I don’t know what to tell you. The same with PP, even though he wasn’t as bad. How does playing hard defense mean they couldn’t be timid on offense? Timid = lack of confidence/showing fear if you want to go by the definition. I believe that it works for the way those 2 played Sunday.

  • Shakers

    It’s been surprising how the C’s best lineup has included Sheed and Baby. A Rondo, Ray, Pierce, Davis, Sheed five spreads the floor and allows Rondo to do his work. Instead of trying to go big and poorly match the size of LA, it’s made more sense to counter with shooters.

  • GFrank

    And It was written “Jesus would Bruise the head of the Serpant (Black Mamba)”

  • SWAT

    hmm sounds like ur a bit biased Sean…

    “All joking aside, there were multiple instances in Game 2, often on the same possession, where Fisher was decked as he shadowed Allen.”
    so fisher does not flop at any given moment-whn rondo blockd him from behind fisher tossed himself on the ground and rolled around like lee harvey oswald was in the stands. cmon dude-fish is one of the dirtiest players. ask scola.
    and miss me with the blaming the refs ish. bottom line the lakers shot double the free throws the celts did.
    and jekyll and hyde-not really. ray was more a victim of circumstance-jekyll and hyde was a doctor who brought the misery upon himself by drinking a potion.

  • http://dimemag.com Sean Sweeney

    @SWAT I said the C’s set a ton of illegal screens, but that comment about Fisher being decked wasn’t at all a call to the refs. It was in fact a compliment to how the C’s set in and physically punish defenders this way. Hence, why I said “all joking aside” before the comment.

  • SWAT

    lol im just bustin ur chops fam…but u didnt answer about fish…do u think he’s dirty? honestly, him getting “decked” is sweet justice to me. i do think doc needs to utilize his bench more bcuz the stars were dog tired by the end of the game.

  • http://dimemag.com Sean Sweeney

    @SWAT Fisher is definitely a dirty player. And he’s a great flopper too, haha. I’m assuming coming home now, the Celtics bench will be more of a factor…

  • http://dimemag.com Sean Sweeney

    @SWAT About the dirty comment: I think you could make a case about a lot of veteran players being dirty so I really don’t think Fisher is out of the norm. To me, I would normally describe them as old vets who seem to know when/how to pick their spots…rather than dirty.

  • Tom

    You are damn right that Fisher grabs and holds and those two quick fouls on him for mauling Allen early in the game were huge, because there’s no way that guy is sticking with Allen if he doesn’t have a handfull of his jersey (or arm, for those wondering why Ray wears the sleeve). I haven’t loved the officiating in this series either, but I give the refs credit for making those early calls because Boston’s entire offense is predicated on Ray opening up the floor, and he can’t do that when he’s being continuously fouled. As for the flip side of the coin, the moving screens, two things: 1) EVERYONE does that to a certain extent – Boston is just more aggressive than most, 2) Perkins is whistled for a moving screen every game he plays in. He will push the envelope until the ref makes the call and then he knows just how far he can go. That’s just smart basketball and it’s entirely in the hands of the refs to police that. it’s not like they don’t know (as I said, no exaggeration, he gets that call every game). Finally, one thing no one is talking about in Game 2 is what Allen’s outburst did for the Celtics offense in the second half. Did you see the Lakers forced to scrap their defensive strategy and put Kobe back on Allen, so Rondo could go to work? Did you see the LA bigs flying out to contest Ray off of every screen opening up lanes to the hoop? Ray is so adept at not forcing the issue (he didn’t feel the need to go for 50 points like most stars would), and he’s a great passer when it comes to dumping the ball off to a big rolling to the hoop. There was one sequence where everyone ran Ray’s side of the floor and Paul Pierce was left completely alone on the other side. He missed a bunny because he was probably so shocked. The adjustments Ray forced and his willingness to be a decoy and a passer in the second half were almost as impressive as his shooting in the first.

  • Tom Merritt

    I don’t believe that Ray Allen should be regarded as a great shooter and he’s far from being the best shooter ever. He is a streak shooter. A great shooter does not go 0 for 13 in a finals game.

    I wish it were possible to see what Joe Hammond of Harlem would have done in his prime in Ray Allen’s shoes. In my opinion, Joe Hammond is the greatest shooter that ever lived. I’ve tried to study them all since 1956.

    Years ago when I played I thought I was a really good shooter but I was a streak shooter like Ray Allen. I never could break through that. From everything I’ve heard and read about Joe that did not apply to him. He was consistently great all the time.