All good things must come to an end. As much as Celtics fans would love to see their big three retire together, it unfortunately is not meant to be. One third of the triumvirate-Ray Allen, the greatest three point shooter of this generation- has chosen to take his talents south to Miami. In choosing them, he intensified the most heated rivalry in basketball of the last few years, Boston vs. Miami.
It may be dramatic, but it is the only way.
Ray Allen is, by some measures, underrated. He is so deadly from long range, that his reputation has become limited to “sharpshooter”. In reality, he does many little things within a game that help his team. His off-ball movement, fast break skills, and solid defense all largely go unnoticed.
Surely, the Heat- and all his suitors, for that matter- see him as a three point threat. It is fitting, after all. The 36 year old shot an outstanding 45% from beyond the arc this season, accompanied by an equally outstanding 92% from the free throw line.
Injuries slowed down Allen in the playoffs, augmenting the bitter taste already left in the mouths of Boston fans. Yet, as the media and Twitter subscribers alike have labeled Allen a “traitor”, the true impact of his departure has become lost.
The Celtics have lost an incredible player, but his departure has given the front office a chance to refresh the roster.
Refresh, they did, by signing shooting guard Jason Terry. The 34 year old- younger, still, than the player he is replacing- is fresh off of a postseason in which he shot an incredible 50% from beyond the arc, and one year removed from a championship with Dallas. In that Finals series, he was a secondary weapon for the Mavericks, whom they looked to in the last game when their primary weapon was faltering.
Allen is, at this phase of his career, on a similar level as Terry. Yet Terry, unlike Allen (who was unhappy with his bench role following the emergence of Avery Bradley) is very comfortable with coming off the bench. He has started in a pinch, but has mainly served as a sixth man, providing instant scoring and energy off the bench.
Of course, Ray Allen and Jason Terry could have coexisted in Boston. The Celtics seemed excited at the prospect of having three talented shooting guards. The issue would be finding playing time for each one, an issue that already troubled Allen before Terry was even in the discussion.
Miami provides a great situation for him. He will serve plenty of time off the bench for them, giving Dwayne Wade, and even perhaps LeBron James, some scoring cushion. The former, who is facing knee surgery, will surely miss some time this season, giving Allen starting opportunities.
The Boston fans feel betrayed by Allen’s departure. It is irrelevant that he signed for less money; the fact that he will be in Heat colors next year overshadows any reasons he might have had for leaving. Yet, they and everyone else should take a step back and look at the situation in a new light. They may be surprised by what they see.