Thursday, February 5, 2009

You don't win by being comfortable

Like fine wine, Ray Allen seems to be improving with age.

As Ian Thomsen writes, "Shooting guards are supposed to become lame and ineffective at his age, but Allen is having what may be his finest season. He continues to defend at a better rate than over his 11 years before coming to Boston, while at the other end of the floor -- the end that has always defined him -- he is shooting a career-best 49.7 percent. He has moved past Kevin Garnett to become the Celtics' second option, with 18.1 points."

"He's doing it more efficiently than he's done it earlier in his career,'' Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "If you don't need the ball in your hands for 15-20 seconds, if you can have it in your hands for five seconds of a possession and you're still really good -- that means you're a really good basketball player. And that's what Ray has become with us.''

One of the NBA's best shooters, in the Celtics' title run last season, Allen was "asked to shoot less. When times were bad in previous years (and there were a lot of those bad nights, as Allen's teams in Milwaukee and Seattle missed the playoffs six times), he would naturally take it upon himself to shoot his team out of trouble. But that approach, as Allen noted, wasn't going to help the Celtics win a title."

"If on a season you're averaging 22-23 shots a game, you're going to shoot yourself into a good rhythm,'' Allen said. "But the majority of the time, if you have to shoot that many times, you don't win. Now I pass first more than anything. When I'm coming off a screen and it's early in the game, I just try to make a hard move, get to the basket and pass it so somebody else can get an easier shot. It builds your way into the offense that way.''

Says BOS coach Doc Rivers, "It was difficult for him but he did it. He did it and he got better and better at it. And now he's taking it to a different level.''

"I hear so many times guys say they want to win a championship, I want to be a winner, but what they're really saying is they want to win so long as it's comfortable for them,'' Rivers said. "You don't win by being comfortable. You win by doing things out of your comfort zone to make the team better, and Ray epitomizes that to me. He's completely come out of his comfort zone to fit into this team to make us better, and Ray has proved that he's a champion because he's willing to do that. He's accepting double teams and getting rid of the ball, where in the past he was the only guy who would get doubled and he'd still try to create a play.''