Allen Breaks Through But C’s Break Down in Game 2
Ray Allen's slump is over, but he took little consolation in that considering the Celtics suffered a 103-97 loss to the Pistons in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals Thursday night at the Garden.
"I'd much rather be sitting here saying, 'I can't make a shot, but we won the game,'" Allen said. "To have an impact is one thing, but to come away with the win is much rather expected or wanted by me and everybody in this locker room."
Ray Allen finally got his groove back in the second half Thursday night after sitting most of the second quarter with foul trouble.
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Allen had been mired in a shooting slump (sub-33% since Game 1 of the Second Round) rivaling the outside-the-paint exploits of Ben Wallace. But after going 3-of-10 from the field -- none of them from the outside -- in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, enough was enough.
Just before the nine-minute mark of the third quarter, Allen swiped a Rasheed Wallace pass, crossing over left to right inside the arc and pulled up. As the crowd had done for each of his recent jumpers, they gasped, hoping and willing it to go -- this time, they were rewarded with a splash.
"I had to look around and see if they were cheering for me because there was an eruption," Allen said. "I knew how I was going to start the game and I wasn't worried about taking shots as much as just being aggressive then just let stuff just come and fall into place."
It seemed from the beginning that it may be Allen's night after he earned three free throws and a layup early on, but three fouls kept him on the bench for most of the second quarter. Still, after hitting that first 17-footer, he dug into his jumpshot scrapbook, drawing a foul on another pullup and hitting a pretty baseline fadeway. He seemed poised for a big quarter, but Allen would have to settle for just eight points.
"It's sometimes the basketball gods," Doc Rivers said. "Things are going well and then he picks up his fourth and fifth. I took the gamble on it and actually lost."
Even five fouls could not derail Allen's back-on-track night. He hit two catch-and-shoot threes in the tense fourth quarter, finishing with 25 points on 9-of-16 shooting. He also missed one of the biggest shots of the game with the Celtics down four and just over a minute to go, but taking into consideration his minimalist approach to shot selection from the previous eight games, it's more important that Allen took one of the biggest shots of the game.
"Ray had an excellent night," Kevin Garnett said. "I think confidence-wise this is what he probably needed. Paul [Pierce] and myself kept encouraging him, so it was good to see him have a nice game tonight."
The Pistons won't need to make any major adjustments now that Allen's shot is falling again because they didn't make any when it wasn't. They still won't leave him open on the floor and will trap him coming off of screens. But Allen's outside scoring may decide the Celtics fate' at the one place they will need it most: the Palace of Auburn Hills.
The Celtics must now win their first road game at some point in this series in order to advance to the NBA Finals. One of their biggest problems at Cleveland and Atlanta was poor ball movement, but there's no cure for that like shooters making shots.
Even if Allen's jumper dries up once again, he'll surely take another goose egg on the box score if he can just start having fun again. And the only remedy for that is a win.