Ray Allen's shooting woes have been well-documented these playoffs. Nobody has been able to figure out how Jesus Shuttlesworth has suddenly lost his shooting touch.
Here's four reasons why I think Ray Ray will get his scoring flair back and help the Celtics get to the NBA Finals for the first time in almost two decades:
1) Better Looks at the Basket:
Besides those two wide-open three-pointers that he missed in Game 7, Allen didn't get too many good looks at the basket in the Eastern Semifinals. The reason: the Cavs made it a priority to make Ray Allen do anything but shoot the ball.
With Paul Pierce having to exert most of his energy on guarding LeBron James, Cleveland realized that he would be less of of an offensive force. So they let him go one-on-one, while doubling Ray Allen and forcing him to pass almost every time he popped off a screen for a shot.
But now that Pierce does not have to guard a man-child, he will have more energy on the offensive end, and therefore garner more attention from Detroit. This alone should give Ray Allen a few more good looks each game.
2) Increased Touches
You better believe that Doc Rivers will have "Get Ray Involved" at the top of his game plan. Just like in the second half of Game 2 between the Cavs and the Celtics, Boston will make sure that Allen increases the amount of shots that he takes.
No more four-shot games for one of the best pure shooters of all time. Allen will get at least 10 to 15 shots a game in this Detroit series.
Even Rivers is smart enough to know that when Ray Allen is knocking down threes with regularity, the Boston Celtics are very hard to beat. But they have to get him into the flow of the game, and that means going to Allen early and often.
I would even encourage the Celtics to get out on the fast-break a little more, letting Rondo use his quickness to tear apart Detroit's transition defense and find the shooters wide open looks.
3) No More Size Advantage
This may be my craziest point, but I believe it has at some merit. I know that Richard Hamilton is a very good defensive player; but for the first time all playoffs, Ray Allen will be going up against a defender who is not any bigger than him.
There's no question that Joe Johnson's size and athleticism bothered Allen mightily in the Atlanta series. Many people believed that Ray would have a scoring breakout in the series against Cleveland, but even Wally Szczerbiak shut him down.
But yet again, Wally World had the size and strength advantage, allowing him to fight through screens and bother Ray's shot. Of course, he couldn't keep Allen from driving to the basket; the problem was, Cleveland's giants ate him alive once he got into the lane.
Hamilton is decidedly quicker than both Johnson and Szczerbiak, but he's also a bit smaller than the other two. Allen will be able to easily rise above him and knock down the shot, even if Rip's just a split second late coming off the screen.
It sounds strange, but Ray Allen may play better against Richard Hamilton than Wally Szczerbiak.
This is my final point, but it is perhaps the most important.
Ray Allen has not just suddenly lost his amazing ability to stroke the nylon in less than a month. He is the type of a guy who takes pride in being one of the greatest shooters to ever play the game. Allen will be determined to return to the assassin that he is on the basketball court.
Aside from self-motivation, there are many critics out there who are saying Allen is old and ineffective. Many have changed it from the the "Big Three" to the "Big Two-and-a-Half." Others are suggesting that Rondo has taken over Allen's spot in the Big Three.
While Rajon is my favorite player, he has by no means taken over Ray Allen's role as the third-best player on the Celtics. Ray Allen is not particularly old and he will not allow himself to be rendered ineffective.
Every player goes through a rough stretch in their career; it's the great ones that work their way out and play better than ever. And there's no question in my mind that Ray Allen is a great player.