Ray Allen: Miami Heat’s secret weapon
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
CHICAGO — Ray Allen doesn’t like things to change. But when they do, he can adapt.
So, yes, he averaged career lows in points, rebounds, assists and minutes for the Miami Heat this season. Despite those career per-game lows, his per 36-minute averages were comparable to his final three seasons with the Boston Celtics, and his fourth-quarter statistics are comparable to any season he had with the Celtics.
He is in an unfamiliar role: off the bench in every game in a season for the first time. Because of that, he gives the Heat even more depth.
“He’s given us exactly what we wanted this year,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He’s a fourth-quarter killer with the mindset that you have to know and be aware of where he is at all times in the fourth quarter.”
While his playing time is down, Allen is a mainstay in the fourth quarter, when he averages 10 minutes. That’s the highest fourth-quarter average in his 17-year career. He averages 4.5 points, his best since 2006-07, and shoots 42.3% on three-pointers in the fourth.
“He creates more space for our best players,” Spoelstra said.
A creature of his well-established routine, Allen had to step out of his comfort zone. He warmed to Miami, the Heat and his role.
For starters, he signed with Miami knowing he would be a reserve. Before this season, Allen had started in 1,140 of 1,148 regular-season games. He didn’t start once in 79 appearances this season.
“The ultimate for me was just getting used to coming off the bench,” Allen said. “I had to re-tool how I prepare, how I get my body ready. It was a fun process, but it was also a process I had to understand and learn.”
He had to change his pregame routine and figure out how to come off the bench ready to go.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers moved Allen to the bench last season, and though unhappy with it, Allen started to accept his future role as his career approaches the end.
He didn’t leave Boston simply because he was going to come off the bench.
“It’s a little more complicated … [For more on Ray Allen: Miami Heat's fourth-quarter secret weapon, click here.]