The lord giveth, and the lord taketh away. Ray Allen can surely attest to this.
On Sunday, he executed one of the great shooting displays in post-season history in bottoming an NBA Finals record eight three-pointers. On Tuesday, he was the central character in a Shakespearean tragedy.
In Game 1 on Sunday, Allen had 32 points as the Boston Celtics evened the best-of-seven series against the Los Angeles Lakers, 1-1, with a 103-94 victory. Tuesday in Game 3, the 14-year veteran astonishingly shot 0-13 from the field, which eerily included eight misses from behind the three-point line. His beautiful stroke, which should earn Allen entry into the Hall of Fame someday, betrayed him at one of the most crucial times in his career.
It was by no means the only reason the Lakers defeated the Celtics in Game 3 by 91-84 to go up 2-1 and put themselves in an ideal position heading into Game 4 tonight (Thursday) in Boston, but it was the most glaring.
“You know, it’s basketball. That’s why you can’t worry about it,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers optimistically spun. “He’ll be back in the gym tomorrow getting ready for the next game. I thought he was pressing early on some of (his shots).
“And honestly,” assessed Rivers, “I thought all of his shots looked flat tonight. I didn’t think he had any legs…of the 13 I think eight of them were great looks and all of them were short…It happens to the best of us.”
“For me, I always think every (shot) is going in,” said Allen. “When it doesn’t go in you just work on getting the next one.”
Allen’s silky, instructional video jumper is a thing of beauty. His ability to consistently make deep shots either standing still or coming off screens makes him arguably the league’s most complete shooter. On Tuesday, he looked like an imposter.
The Celtics are going to need Allen to be good, if not very good, for the duration of the series to pull off what would be a slight upset of the defending champions. They have to take both tonight’s game and Sunday’s – both at home – if they want to go back to Los Angeles for Games 6 and a probable Game 7 with a legitimate chance to dethrone the Lakers.
To do so, the real Ray Allen must reappear.