Game 5 could be Allen's last in Boston
BOSTON -- Celtics guard Ray Allen has watched plenty of game film the past few days trying to identify exactly why he's struggling from the perimeter just days after setting an NBA Finals record for 3-pointers in a game with eight.
But in boiling down his recent shooting woes, Allen insists he wouldn't let the moment overtake him.
"I've been in this situation before, plenty of times," said Allen. "It's the Finals, the biggest stage I'll play on in my life, but the game is still the same. I try to look at it that way, minimize it."
Good thing Allen has blinders on, because there's a whole new batch of hoopla rushing his way in time for Sunday's Game 5, which could be his final home game in a Boston uniform.
With Allen set to be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason and no public indication from the Celtics' front office about a desire to bring him back, Sunday's tilt could well be the end of the latest Big Three era in Boston.
Allen hasn't commented on his future since late January, when, at the center of numerous trade rumors, he expressed a desire to stay in Boston not only the remainder of the 2009-10 season but beyond.
"I'd like to be here," Allen said at the time. "There's no reason to be any other place. I'd love to retire with this organization. [But] that's up to the team. I want to be here. This team has proven over the decades to be a winner, one of the best in sports, and that's what this organization plans to do. I'm committed to it."
The sticking point is sure to be a new contract, both in length and money. The Celtics, presumably, would be looking at something in the two-year range that would run through the end of Kevin Garnett's current deal, and a value much lower than the $18.7 million Allen is making this season.
But Allen, despite his struggles the past two games, clearly has plenty left in the tank, as evidenced by the seven straight 3-pointers he made in Game 2. It will be interesting to see if the attraction of one final payday is enough to lure him away from the comforts of Boston and into the clutch of a cash-bloated team spurned by the biggest names of this summer's free-agent bonanza.
"I think at this point, what I'm making now -- I've made a great living throughout my career," Allen said in January. "I know, going into next year, whatever I sign, it won't be the money I'm making now. I know that."
At the moment, Allen has far more pressing issues than where he'll play and what he'll be paid next season. There's the matter of Game 5, a pivotal contest in a best-of-seven series that's been reduced to a best-of-three after the Celtics and Lakers split the first four games.
Then there's his shooting slump. Allen missed all 13 field goals he attempted in Tuesday's Game 3 loss at TD Garden, and connected on just 4-of-11 shots for 12 points in Thursday's Game 4 triumph.
Allen has missed 14 consecutive attempts from behind the arc. His last make came with 4:39 left in the third quarter of Game 2, a span of 112 minutes, 39 seconds. Outside of his Game 2 barrage, Allen hasn't made a 3-pointer this series. You'd have to go back to the third quarter of Game 6 against the Magic to find his last triple outside of that record performance.
The Lakers have made a concerted effort to deny him 3-point looks since Game 2, and they're doing a tremendous utilizing their length to tip the shots he does get off.
"Personally, it's one of those things where I'm watching it and picking apart the different things that I could have done," said Allen. "I had a lot of good shots, they just didn't go in for me. They're putting in an all-out effort to keep me from shooting the ball, but I just need to get past that, and force someone to step up and help, then make that extra pass.
"It's just an adjustment. You learn from it when you see it, when you watch film. You make yourself better."
Allen found success near the rim in the early going Thursday, then took advantage of the mid-range shots that Los Angeles gave him in the second half. His layup with 10:30 remaining in the fourth tied the score at 66 and ignited a 9-0 burst that included a nice 14-foot jumper from Allen.
In a quarter in which Celtics coach Doc Rivers leaned heavily on his bench, Allen found himself as the only starter on the floor with a lineup that featured Nate Robinson, Glen Davis, Rasheed Wallace and Tony Allen. The same unit was on the floor in the first half to lackluster results, but the reserve-fueled unit sparked Boston to a double-digit lead and the Celtics floated to the finish line from there.
During the pivotal stretch, Allen drew an offensive foul against Shannon Brown and registered an assist, doing the little things when his shot wasn't on.
"For me, I have to adjust to how they're playing," said Allen. "They're definitely trying to run me off shooting the 3. The game is going to dictate, offensively, what I want to get out there. I'm just trying not to force that and let it come to me."
Sort of like his fate next season. Allen doesn't seem overly concerned about the matter. And on Friday, Rivers went to bat for his soon-to-be 35-year-old shooting guard, suggesting Boston should keep the Big Three intact moving forward.
"We don't talk about it at all, and I don't think this [the window of opportunity is closing], anyway," said Rivers. "I've said that -- I said it in the middle of the year -- I think, hopefully, we sign Ray back. I think I can say that. If not, I just got fined. I think Kevin is going to be better next year because of a year away from surgery. ... So we don't think that [the window is closing]. I think everyone outside of us, a lot of people do."
With the potential for two championships in three years, you'd have to wonder why anyone would want to break up the band in the first place. As Allen knows so well as a shooter, when something's working, you don't mess with it.
Chris Forsberg is the Celtics reporter for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.
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