Much has been made about Rajon Rondo's dominating stat-lines and Kevin Garnett's domination of Antawn Jamison, but Ray Allen's big-time shooting played just as big a role in the Celtics' dethroning of King James.
While Allen had a relatively quiet Game 6 against Cleveland, the stat splits reveal that he's easily had his best outtings all season when facing the Cavs. He knocked down open jumpers every time the Cleveland defense got off balance... which turned out to be an awful lot.
Allen certainly won’t be the most sheik pick on the Free Agent list this year. Yet, while you couldn't even consider him a "2nd tier" player, like a Rudy Gay or Carlos Boozer, Allen has still lined himself up for another decent paycheck and possibly another starting gig somewhere.
Allen is not quite to the point where he's an absolute defensive liability, but that day is fast approaching, as it has for all great shooters. Allen's minutes, points per game, and shooting percentage have also been in decline since he arrived in Boston three seasons ago.
Yet, the man can still flat out shoot the ball.
While Allen might not rise up quite as high as he used to, you still know every made shot as soon as he releases the ball, using one of the quickest triggers of all time. On the nights that he's struggling to get lift, Allen's shot has a tendency to go flat. Fortunately for the Celtics, Allen has had fresh legs throughout the playoffs, and that advantage has been telling.
The top three destinations for Ray Allen must be limited to playoff contenders, as he's unlikely to waste the waning days of his career on an also-ran. He must be joining a good defensive team, especially in the backcourt, as he'll need some help masking his inability to cover elite guards anymore.
Allen should be joining a team that can use him as a starter next season, but who won't have to rely on him in that role for more than a year. After that point, Allen will probably have to transition to a shooting specialist off the bench, or a small-minute starter.
In the future, his regular season minutes will need to keep declining in order to save his shot for the Playoffs. Figure that the Midlevel Exception or slightly higher are definitely realistic prices for a key playoff cog like Ray Allen.
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