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Ray Allen adds fourth dimension to Miami Heat’s Big 3

Three games into his first season with the Heat, reserve guard Ray Allen is making 56.3 percent of his three-pointers, which is third in the NBA among players with at least 10 attempts.

Yes, the Heat has its Big 3, but it also has the guy who makes big threes, and that’s Allen.

The Heat, which hosts the Phoenix Suns at 7:30 p.m. Monday, rested Sunday, which will be a major advantage against the Suns, who played at Orlando on Sunday.

The Suns will arrive in Miami on Monday for Part 2 of back-to-back road games. Even more tiring for the Suns is the prospect of chasing around screens to keep up with the 37-year-old Allen, the most prolific three-point shooter in NBA history.

Allen so far appears to have been an astute free agent signing for the Heat. In fact, it’s conceivable the Heat could be 0-3 right now without Allen, who hit the game-winning shot Saturday in a 119-116 victory over Denver. He also had 19 points in a 13-point win over Boston on opening night.

Allen is fourth on the team in scoring average (15.7), trailing only the Big 3 of Chris Bosh (23.7), LeBron James (23.0) and Dwyane Wade (19.3).

With all that firepower, it’s no surprise the Heat ranks first in the NBA in team scoring average (107.7).

“They have shooters all over the place,” Nuggets coach George Karl said of the Heat. “Then you have a guy like Ray Allen who makes shots in big-time situations.

“His two three-pointers in the fourth quarter [Saturday] got them the momentum. He has done that for every team he’s ever been on, and he does not need a lot of room to shoot it.”

Fitting in

Allen, a career 40.1 percent three-point shooter, has made a smooth transition from Boston, where he played last season.

The Heat has had a different high-scorer in each of its first three games — in order: Wade (29), James (23) and Bosh (40) — and Allen has learned to play off all three of them.

“Ray has found a way to fit in and mesh with a team that has had a lot of success already,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “That speaks to his willingness to sacrifice and his ability to adapt.”

Woes on defense

The flip side of Miami’s explosive offense has been the porous defense, which has allowed 109 points per game — tied for last in the NBA.

In addition, opposing teams are shooting 48.8 percent against the Heat, which ranks third worst in the league.

The Heat is also the second-worst rebounding team (36.3 per game).

Perhaps most disconcerting is that the Heat has struggled in multiple areas, depending on the game. After allowing the Knicks to make 19 of 36 three-pointers Friday night, the Heat was exposed inside in Saturday’s win over Denver.

The Nuggets outscored Miami 72-40 in the paint. Denver outrebounded Miami 47-32 and dominated on second-chance points 30-6.

This and that

• The Suns have three former members of the Heat organization, including coach Alvin Gentry. The other two are forward Michael Beasley and center Jermaine O’Neal.

• The Suns’ starting lineup has a heavy international flavor. Goran Dragic, who leads the team in scoring and assists, is a 6-3 point guard from Slovenia; Luis Scola, who leads in steals, is a 6-9 forward from Argentina; and Marcin Gortat, who leads in rebounds and blocks, is a 6-11 center from Poland. The other starters are Americans: 6-10 forward Beasley and 6-7 wing Jared Dudley.

• Heat center Joel Anthony, who made his season debut Saturday but played just seven minutes, might get more minutes against the Suns. The Heat seems committed to playing small, but with the Suns’ size and the Heat’s issues on defense so far this season, Spoelstra might find a solution in Anthony.

• The Suns are predicted by many to be among the worst teams in the Western Conference, especially now that star point guard Steve Nash has departed for the Lakers. Dragic has replaced Nash in the starting lineup, and the Suns drafted Kendall Marshall in the first round — 13th overall — out of North Carolina as a backup.

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