Ray Allen to the Miami Heat: Is a 2013 Championship All But Guaranteed?

As you all know by now, the greatest three-point shooter of all-time will be joining the Miami Heat as soon as a dotted line is available to sign.

That day will be July 11th. Two days from now Ray Allen will become the newest member of the Heat after spurning his former Boston Celtics, despite the team offering nearly double per year what the Heat was offering. The Heat hooked Allen for a three-year deal worth $9 million, less than the two-year, $12 million deal being offered by Boston.

What enticed Allen to join the Heat was a more significant role, as well as the idea that loyalty was only a one-way street between him and the Celtics.

Ray’s final two seasons with the Celtics were tumultuous. Despite shooting career high’s in terms of his three-point percentage, Allen was still being shopped around and was nearly traded to the Memphis Grizzlies last year for O.J. Mayo. This came during the same year Allen was benched in favor of the younger Avery Bradley.

Allen dealt with bone spurs for a majority of the season, but was still firmly against the idea of coming off the bench, something he let coach Doc Rivers aware of. The idea of being benched and then being shopped hurt Allen and made him feel inferior to the respect Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo garnered.

Rondo also supposedly played a key part in Allen’s departure from Boston. The two were considered the two smartest players on the team and Rondo, apparently, attempted to direct orders to Allen and the rest of the team. Ray wasn’t having it, and he certainly didn’t appreciate the fact that the trade rumors involving him didn’t start until Rondo was signed to a five-year, $55 million deal.

To top it off, the Celtics also agreed to sign free agent Jason Terry. While it was looked at mostly as a ploy to keep the Miami Heat away from him, all it did was possibly make Allen’s role on the roster even less significant. Had he stayed in Boston, Allen would end up competing with Terry and Bradley for minutes.

Ray’s 37-years-old; now is not the time for him to compete for minutes. He wants a set niche where he can play a significant role in a certain amount of time. Allen is an extremely traditional and methodical player. He needs to be in a rhythm at all times in order to feel right with the universe.

Miami’s not just offering an easier ride for Ray; they’re giving him the opportunity to continue his legacy in an environment that will embrace him and appreciate him, not attempt to trade him or sign players that happen to play the same exact role he does.

As Adrian Wojnarowski writes, Ray Allen just needed to feel wanted again. He didn’t want his career to fizzle while he sits on the bench behind a younger and more athletic two-guard. Allen knows that he’s still capable of putting up big numbers in big minutes, which is what will be expected of him in Miami.

The Heat really couldn’t have found a better player for the job. Allen has become known as one of the league’s classiest and smartest players, which shows in his overall presentation and demeanor. This is a player who can care less about the outside distractions because he’s too centered on whatever primary objective he sets his sights for.

Like I said, perfect for the job; because Allen will be met with plenty of scrutiny. Oh, it’s already started. Once again, we’re entering the realm of the Heat “buying” championships or the team needing so many All-Stars to win a title. It doesn’t make any sense, but it’s going to spread because the kids who loved to eat glue are now grown up and have a computer.

However, Allen is the type of player to not get rattled by anyone. If he can hit game-winning jumpers over the outstretched hands of a 7′ footer, then he’s willing to deal with a few months of criticism. He wouldn’t have signed with the Heat had he not seen that coming; he knows just as well as everyone else that there aren’t too many people fond of this team from Miami.

All that matters is Allen essentially gave the Miami Heat the 2013 NBA championship. The Brooklyn Nets can strip their roster and get Dwight Howard and the Los Angeles Lakers can trade for Steve Nash while giving nothing up in return, but it does not matter because the Heat nearly just guaranteed themselves a title if their core, and Allen, stays healthy.

I’m not one to make guarantees. I don’t like counting my chickens before they hatch; I much prefer letting things pan out before starting with the “Told you so” line. The NBA has proven to be far too unpredictable and, truly, anything is possible when it comes down to attempting to put a sphere through a cylinder.

Odd things happen in this game, and that’s why I don’t like to make guarantees like the Miami Heat winning a championship.

However, a Heat team with Ray Allen is impossible to stop. Why, you ask? Because they just replaced one of their weakest spots to score from on the floor with the greatest three-point shooter to walk the planet. They picked up a three-point shooter that isn’t going to to get hurt like Mike Miller or someone who will need about 80 games before they get into a rhythm like Shane Battier.

No, they got Ray Allen–a future Hall-of-Famer who just converted 2.3 three-pointers per on a career-high 45 percent from beyond the arc. He makes open and contested threes; at the beginning and at the end of games; healthy or hurt, this guy knows what he’s doing when it comes to putting the ball in the basket from a distance.

This guy could write the book on jump shooting and then help you balance your checkbook.

A career 40 percent shooter from deep, Allen has spent time with the Milwaukee Bucks, Seattle Sonics and Boston Celtics before ending up in Miami. He averaged as much as 25.1 points per game and has converted as many as 3.4 three-pointers per contest over a 16-year career that actually started upon being drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

If the Timberwolves don’t trade Allen for Stephon Marbury on draft night, Ray ends up playing with Kevin Garnett. Funny how things work out sometimes.

Allen had been playing with the Celtics since 2007. In that time, he won his only championship in 2008 and made it onto three All-Star teams. He also had the best shooting years of his career, possibly due to Rajon Rondo’s passing ability and Allen’s ability to rip the hearts out of opponents.

There isn’t a Rajon Rondo on the Heat. Instead, there’s the reigning league and Finals MVP, a former Finals MVP, and arguably the best shooting big man currently playing, which is just as good as having a diminutive guard with exceptional court vision.

The Heat don’t need a traditional point guard because they have two players who simply touc the ball and attract the attention of multiple defenders. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are nearly impossible to guard in a one-on-one setting, which ends up leading to defense’s having to instill two defenders on each player.

It’s the only way, and it’s a tactic that was successfully utilized by the Celtics in the Conference Finals. They ended up double-teaming Wade successfully, but it only came as a result of Chris Bosh not being on the floor. Once Bosh hit the floor, the double-teams came to an end and Wade and James were allowed to penetrate more often.

Because they have to double-teamed so much, it leads to teammates getting open. That’s where Mike Miller was supposed to come in and step up. Miller was one of the league’s top shooters upon signing with the Heat and was expected to simply wait for the ball to get in his hands so he could take and make a wide-open three-pointer.

Instead, injuries played too large a factor and we have yet to see what Miller is made of on a consistent basis. Game 5 against the Oklahoma City Thunder is a representation of what possibly could have been with Miller had he stayed healthy. That 7-of-8 display from deep was Miller’s top performance with the Heat and it’s not even really close.

Allen has 7-of-8 performances from deep on a weekly basis. He’s not the type of player that’s going to consistently miss. Even in slumps, Allen is still effective especially late in games when he could either attract the influence of the defense or hit the timely shot. Also, Allen’s slumps don’t last long because he’s so reliant on a rhythm that he’s perfected over the past two decades.

Ray Allen is going to become what Mike Miller should have been. He’s going to be the guy that’s going to get open along the perimeter and hit all the wide-open jumpers he’s expected to make. He and the kick-outs of LeBron James are going to end up as best friends over the next three years.

Allen isn’t the only one that’s going to thrive. LeBron, Dwyane and Chris are all going to have an easier life on the offensive end. As open as Allen will get, defense’s will still have to recognize him and always put a body on him, unless they want to risk giving up a three-pointer to the best in the business.

That means teams aren’t going to be allowed to pack the paint as much as they’ve allowed to over the past two years. Because the Heat were without any considerable perimeter threats, opposing defense’s could get away with packing the paint thus limiting the driving games of Wade and James. The most the Heat could rely on as far as a shooter goes was Bosh, who lit teams up with his mid-range ability.

Even then, the impact of the offense was still condensed within the perimeter. Defense’s could still focus on Wade and James, as well as Bosh’s jumpers, because they’re all within the three-point line. There isn’t too much room of a standard basketball court; defense’s can cover a lot of ground.

They can’t cover too much ground, though. With Ray Allen on the squad, defense’s now have to be wary of the drives of Wade and James, the mid-range game of Bosh and now the three-point shooting prowess of Allen. Unless some team has an elite individual defender at each position, then the Heat are going to be one of the most difficult teams to contain.

Allen will most likely become the team’s new sixth man and will be the first off the bench once Mario Chalmers or Dwyane Wade hits the bench. From there, it’s LeBron James facilitating and Ray Allen waiting for the ball to get into his hands. All James has to do is drive, he’ll get the attention of the entire defense, and then find Allen for a wide-open perimeter shot.

Erik Spoelstra really has his work cut out for him, doesn’t he? To think that the Heat may actually end up signing Rashard Lewis, a former teammate of Allen’s in Seattle, before the week is over, too. Miami won’t just give Allen a friend to play with, but add on yet another solid three-point threat.

Pat Riley stressed at the beginning of the offseason that he wants players who can stretch the floor. As if there was any doubt in our minds, Riley and company got the job done by getting their primary target for the third consecutive offseason. If Riley can continually convince players to take million-dollar paycuts, I could only imagine how he worked his magic with the girls at the University of Kentucky from 1964 to 1967.

We’re not sure how he does it, but it’s working and it has resulted in Wade, James, Bosh, Allen, Shane Battier, Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller all taking significant paycuts for the greater good of winning an NBA title. They’re doing the exact opposite of chasing money and getting criticized for it, so think long and hard before you listen to what any talking head with a microphone and a camera has to say.

Either way, who cares what anyone has to say? The Heat are the reigning NBA champions and are most likely going to shut everyone up next year by winning the title in an 82-game season.

Allen has found his new home, and most likely the place he’ll end up retiring in with a few more rings on the hands that have made him $178 million and a certain spot in the Hall of Fame.

Don’t like it?

Tough.

 

 

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