Forget for a second the team vision it took for Ray Allen to meet with Doc Rivers and tell his coach he’s alright with coming off the bench behind a 21-year old with a 9.72 PER. Forget that he said the following about his attitude toward becoming a reserve for the first time of his career: (Boston Herald)
“Well, people were talking about it,” he said after the Celtics’ 93-86 loss to the Bulls. “It was being talked about a lot. I can’t say that it was my idea — I don’t ever want to come off the bench. But if it can help the team, and that’s what they needed me to do, then I would be up for it.
“At the end of the day your minutes don’t change, and that’s one thing I’m very cognizant about when I’m out there in the flow,” said Allen. “It’s an ego thing to start, and my ego is not that big where I feel I have to be in the starting lineup.”
Whatever Allen says, the transition will be difficult. Every NBA player has an ego – Allen had played 1,144 games before yesterday and started 1,140 of them, has drilled more three-pointers than any other human being ever, has been selected to 10 All-Star games and will almost certainly become a first-ballot Hall of Famer five years after he retires. It would be tough enough for anybody to lose his starting spot. But for Allen, the move is even more significant just because he’s a creature of habit.
Allen follows the same gameday routine for each Celtics contest, a routine that borders on OCD, right down to the blueberries in his Aunt Jemima pancakes which he eats at breakfast while reading the newspaper. He arrives at the gym three hours before each game and puts himself through strenuous shooting drills. He returns to the locker room, eats two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, always on wheat bread, drinks 32 ounces of water, and gets back to the court for team warmups and to hear his name introduced as part of the starting lineup.
Except he no longer starts.
Game one of the “Ray Allen, Substitute” Experiment didn’t go perfectly. Avery Bradley played reasonably well, but the Celtics stunk while opening the third quarter with the new starting lineup. Allen made a few shots, but never really found his stride alongside the second unit. Yet there were moments when you could envision how the change would help the team, when Bradley and Rondo were hounding Chicago’s guards and Allen was waiting on the bench to provide scoring punch for a second unit that desperately needs it.
Allen will still likely receive the majority of minutes as Boston’s shooting guard. He’ll almost always be on the court at the end of games, at least when the Celtics need a bucket. The change, which is designed to alter the situations when Allen plays more than the amount of minutes he plays, isn’t a drastic one — except to the 36-year old who’s never done this before, who has followed the same routine for years, maybe a decade, maybe more, and now needs to tweak it.
Boston may have a new famous sixth man on a permanent basis. The fact that he’s even willing to try speaks volumes about Ray Allen.