Here’s all you really need to write when trying to crystallize the cavernous wealth of talent backing the Heat in these 2013 playoffs: The soon-to-be all-time leader in postseason three-pointers is coming off the bench.
With 315 career playoff three-pointers after the Heat’s 110-87 victory Sunday, Ray Allen stands just five triples from matching Reggie Miller for the NBA’s all-time postseason mark. Allen and his patented jump shot have now participated in the playoffs with four different teams. Coincidentally, his postseason career began with the Milwaukee Bucks, which the Heat leads 1-0 in its best-of-7 first-round series.
So there he was, Allen, the future Hall of Famer, the 17-year pro, already the NBA’s all-time leader in regular-season three-pointers, doing pushups after practice on Monday for losing, of all things, a three-point contest to LeBron James.
Like Allen’s shot, the form of those pushups was uniform and perfect.
“Y’all should be glad we’re not playing for money,” James joked as he stood over Allen and Mario Chalmers like a drill sergeant and counted off his punishment to the rhythm of a bouncing basketball. The scene was ironic in a way, and not just because Allen and Chalmers grew up the sons of military men. James’ marked improvement from the behind the three-point arc this season could, partially at least, be credited to Allen, who came to Miami from Boston last summer and brought with him that iconic work ethic so respected by his peers.
For years, Allen has been arriving to arenas on game days hours before his teammates to practice his shooting. At beginning of the season, James began joining Allen for many of those pregame sessions. Always a learner, James tweaked his preparatory habits based on Allen’s influence.
Limited by an ankle injury during his final postseason run with the Celtics, Allen begins his playoff chase with the Heat in a physical condition that more closely resembles all those years of greatness that defined his career. In Game1 against the Bucks, Allen had 20 points off the bench, which made up the lion’s share of the Heat’s 43 bench points. That total now ranks second in postseason franchise history behind only the 45 points the Heat’s reserves, led by Clarence Weatherspoon, scored against Detroit in a first-round playoff series.
“The work [Allen] continues to put into the game at his age and his physical condition,” James said, “he’s back healthy, and it’s a tribute to him and who he is as a professional and as a person and as a man, and we’re happy to have him.”
Of course, many of the three-pointers throughout Allen’s career were knocked down directly in the face of Dwyane Wade. Wade loathed chasing Allen around the court, fighting through screens, only to see Allen pull up and knock down a contested shot.
“He’s obviously made a lot of shots over me, but the one thing about Ray is you think you have him contained — there are those games in the first three quarters where you don’t have a Ray Allen sighting as much — and then it just takes one, it takes one look away and he’s going to the deep corner and he’s got a three,” Wade said.
On Monday, James and Wade were still talking about Allen’s corner three-pointer in Game 1 against the Bucks that came at the very end of the shot clock and gave the Heat a 73-61 lead in the third quarter. In that play, all of Allen’s well-honed gifts were on display.
“He didn’t even turn the right way, and he got it off so quick,” Wade said. “He’s just special. There’s not many of him.”
“Just his ability to get his shot off no matter if the defender is right on him, no matter if its in transition or no matter if it’s run in the offense. He can get a three-point shot off at any point in the game.”