Commentary

Ray Allen's hot start sets up Celtics

His 35 points and defensive play lead Boston in big win over Miami Heat

Updated: November 12, 2010, 9:58 AM ET
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com

MIAMI -- Just one of those nights.

That's the shrug-and-smile catchphrase offered by everyone from Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers to point guard Rajon Rondo to old friend Eddie House when asked to describe Ray Allen's offensive outburst, which propelled the Celtics to a 112-107 triumph over the Miami Heat on Thursday night at American Airlines Arena.

Allen connected on 13 of 23 shots, including 7 of 9 trifectas, for a game-high 35 points over 41 minutes of action. He was virtually unconscious over the first three frames, connecting on 10 of 15 shots, including his first six 3-point attempts, for 26 points through three quarters, then still found a way to chip in nine points in the final frame to seal the win.

Does Allen ever wonder how he gets so open?

"All the time, I wonder it," he admitted. "Any time I'm open, I wonder it. It's not easy -- it's easier said than done, me getting open. It seems like a cycle of events that take place, especially when Rondo's penetrating the paint like he is. At any time, we've got four shooters on the floor, so you almost have to give something up. I'm the furthest away from the basket, but I'm also the one guy you don't want to leave open."

[+] EnlargeRay Allen
Victor Baldizon/NBAE/Getty ImagesWith seven 3-pointers Thursday, Ray Allen is 91 treys closer to Reggie Miller's career record.

That might have sounded like boisterous chest-thumping if said by anyone else, but Allen is just stating facts. With Thursday's seven-trifecta explosion, Allen moved within 91 3-pointers of matching Reggie Miller's record for most career triples. After splashing one Thursday, he actually looked over at Miller at the TNT broadcast table and smiled wide.

All he was missing was the shoulder shrug from Michael Jordan's infamous 1992 NBA Finals outburst against the Portland Trail Blazers. Fittingly, he left that for everyone else to offer postgame in response to his performance.

"I think they're as good as anybody in the league where, if you fall, that ball just seems to end up in Ray Allen's hands in the corner, somehow, someway," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said with a sigh. "They exploited us on that pretty much the entire night."

The secret? Ball movement, for certain, but also a trust and uncanny sense of knowing where each player will be that's been forged over the four seasons the quartet of core starters have been together.

To boot, Allen has produced 12 3-pointers against the Heat this season and nine of those have been assisted by Rondo. As the point guard suggested afterward, "I just know where he wants the ball."

Any time Allen's defender so much as looked in the other direction, the ball found him. And when the defense overplayed the 3-point shot, Allen had no problem driving to the basket, such as the reverse layup he produced with 2:51 to go that put the Celtics out front by 11 and essentially sealed the game (though Miami did rally within three late).

"He is always on the move and he shoots the ball very well," Dwyane Wade said of Allen. "I watch a lot of games and I don't really see him shoot as well against other teams as he does against us. He shot it very well tonight and got them off to a great start."

Allen's hot start might have helped him keep Wade quiet on the other end of the floor, and his defense was something Allen took more pride in than his offensive exploits.

"I'm not thinking about the offensive end, that takes care of itself," Allen said. "Defensively, I'm like, 'Let's not let [Wade] get into a rhythm.'"

He never did, thanks in large part to Allen's all-around effort. As Spoelstra suggested, "I think Ray Allen on the other end, hitting a couple 3's early, it contributed to us getting out of rhythm. Dwyane is better than this."

Wade, who was forced to expend much of his energy chasing Allen, finished with a mere eight points on 2-of-12 shooting, missing all five of the 3-pointers he attempted. Allen's secret? It started off the court.

"It's like one of those things: If you do your work early, at least you'll be in good position," he said. "[Wade is] coming at me every time, so when the ball went up, I just made sure I got back on defense so that at least we had a solid front when he started to attack us."

Wade missed all six shots in the first half and both attempts he put up in the fourth quarter, settling for four points overall outside of the third frame.

Just one of those nights.

Chris Forsberg is the Celtics reporter for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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