You get the sense this is killing him. That not being able to hit shots in what might be his final postseason with the Boston Celtics is tearing chunks of flesh from his skin. That bricking free throw after free throw keeps him awake at night, in a cold sweat and praying for the return of his mobility.
Or maybe Ray Allen doesn’t pray when it comes to his shooting. Instead he hits the gym and tries to iron out the wrinkles that have kept him from making an impact in these playoffs.
Allen arrived at Boston’s practice this morning well before the team bus arrived, and he practiced his free throws. Asked later whether he will miss a game because of bone spurs in his ankle, one of the classiest professional athletes ever responded flatly, “Hell no.”
We expect Kevin Garnett to use the words “hell no,” but from Allen we normally see less of an edge.
An anger now exists within Ray Allen where previously he had been as calm as a lake on a windless day. For the first time in his career he is seen as a liability. People are clamoring that Mickael Pietrus take his minutes, or maybe Sasha Pavlovic should, or Doc Rivers should give E’Twaun Moore a chance. Allen has connected on fewer than 40 percent of his postseason shots, his defense has suffered and he’s 8 for 29 shooting in his past three games. He drilled two huge triples against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7, but even after those Doc Rivers felt the need to express surprise at how the Celtics managed to maintain confidence in their struggling teammate.
Allen thinks he can get through these struggles like he always has gotten past adversity — by hitting the gym for an extra hour, by shooting a hundred extra free throws, by putting himself through drill after drill after drill until finally his shooting release feels right. The ankle doesn’t let him work like he’s used to, but still, if there is a way out of this maze of misses, Allen will exhaust all his resources to find it.
“You wanna give Ray a chance because you know he’ll do everything it requires,” Doc Rivers said.
Here’s to hoping he’ll find a way.