On Ray's race to history


On Ray's race to history

By Rich Levine

If you go by his season average, Ray Allens roughly 13 games away from setting a new NBA record for three-pointers in a career. But when that day finally comes, maybe even more impressive than the record itself, will be just how efficiently Allen went about breaking it.

In all, it took Reggie Miller 18 seasons, 1,389 games and more than 47,000 minutes to drain his record 2,560 threes. By contrast, thats three-plus seasons, 300-plus games and nearly 8,000 minutes more than Allens current career marks. And while the next month will narrow that gap a little, it wont be enough to weaken the glaring disparity.

Its pretty astounding, really, to think back on how talented Miller was (before killing his legacy in the broadcast booth), and then to see his career numbers eclipsed so handily. It gives us some perspective on just how legendary Allen actually is. And when you consider the timing, that hes still in ridiculous shape and that hes barely shown signs of slowing down, it seems likely that Allens not only going to break Millers record; hes going to obliterate it.

Over the next few years, Allen should do to career three-pointers what Favre did to consecutive QB starts only without the ego or the painkillers. Plus, Ray wouldnt be caught dead in Wranglers.

And when he eventually retires, Allen will do so as the undisputed long-range king. Throughout NBA history, hell become synonymous with the three-ball like Stockton with the assist, or Tony Allen with the ACL-tearing, after-the-whistle dunk attempt. In terms of NBA legacies, Rays will be all set.

But at the same time, as Allen closes in on three-point immortality, he does so at one small expense. By setting the new standard, and becoming the face of that record, hell unavoidably and unintentionally feed into the biggest misconception about his game.

That hes only a shooter.

Only is the key word here, because dont get me wrong: Ray Allen is obviously a shooter. He is one of the best, most precise and methodical shooters of all time. Relative to the rest of the league, shooting is the skill that sets Allen apart. Its the reason hell one day deliver a speech at Springfield. Its the reason why his great-grandchildren are probably set for life.

But because his shooting is so exceptional, the rest of his game usually suffers by comparison. And while thats only natural, its not necessarily fair.

Ask a casual NBA fan what Allen can do for a team, and theyll say shoot. Back in the summer of 2007, if youd asked most Boston fans what Allen would do for them, theyd have probably said the same.

When Allen first arrived, Celtics Nation thought they were just getting a shooter. A guy who and this is even before Kevin Garnett was in the equation could play off Paul Pierce. Spot up on the perimeter. Hit jumpers. Extend the D. Make a mockery of the foul line. And hes done that. Over the past three-plus seasons, Allen has done that for longer and with more consistency and durability than anyone could have imagined.

You forget now that when the Big 3 was first assembled, Allen was the one we worried about. He was the guy who would eventually break down. He was a 32-year-old shooting guard who was months removed from surgery on both of his ankles, and there was no way either would last.

You forget now that, since then, every time theres been cause or potential reason for the Celtics to shake things up, its Allens name thats thrown into the mix.

Caron Butler. Antawn Jamison. Richard Hamilton. Tyreke Evans. Andres Nocioni. Kevin Martin. Kirk Hinrich. Tyrus Thomas. Monta Ellis. Amare Stoudemire

Those are all guys who Allens been rumored in trades for over the past three years. But hes always survived the talk. Hes almost completely survived the obstacles of old age. And, every season, as the Celtics fight their annual battle with the injury bug, its Allen whos most immune.

Despite everything that was supposed to get in the way, Allens the one whos out there every night. And yeah, the shooting has been there. Its been inconsistent in small stretches, but for the most part its been as impressive and fascinating as you ever imagined. Its lived up to every bit of the hype.

But in getting to watch Allen every night, his shooting abilitys become more familiar, and less of a novelty. And as a result, weve been able to take a step back and find an appreciation for the greater aspects of his game that typically get lost in the obsession with his range.

Over the last three-plus years, weve seen a guy whos not only one of the deadliest shooters in the league, but also one of the most creative scorers.

He can score in 15 different ways. He doesnt hang on the periphery and wait for a kick out; he takes the opposing shooting guard and runs him off picks and into the ground. He gets to the rim or at least around it and finished with surprising consistency. Hes great in transition. Hell make shots fading left, fading right, or fading straight back. He has at least five different release point on his mid-range J. Hell take you for a baseline reverse. Hell stop short in the paint and swish a floater. Once in a while, youll get dunked on.

Is he headed to any All-Defensive teams? No. But aside from a few tough matchups over the years, hes never been a liability. You rarely caught yourself thinking, They gotta do something . . . Rays getting killed out there!

He doesnt make mistakes. Seriously, not counting cold shooting nights (because those are going to happen once in a while), how many times over the last three-plus years have you actually been frustrated or upset with Ray Allen? Guarantee its less than anyone else on the team. Hes a chameleon. A guy wholl go from third or fourth option with the starters to primary scorer and point guard without breaking stride.

In terms of clutch, hes right up there with Pierce, which puts him right up there with anyone in the league. You could argue that Allen's actually been more clutch than Pierce since the Big 3 got together. Hes a calming force. No matter what the situation, or whats on the line, youre at peace when the balls in his hands.

Hes a great shooter. Yeah, we knew that, and weve seen that. And judging by those last two sentences, some of us have maybe been a little spoiled by it.

But just as well, as much as he's a great shooter, we've all come to know him as a great player

And realize that the soon-to-be NBA Three-Point King deserves to be remembered for so much more.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on Rich can be reached at Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Morning Skate: Habs' Pacioretty blames himself


Morning Skate: Habs' Pacioretty blames himself

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while watching the Montreal Canadiens crash and burn in the Atlantic Division.  

*Max Pacioretty is certainly falling on his sword up in Montreal calling himself “the worst one on the ice” as the Habs really struggle to get going this season.

*Brad Marchand was on the Twitter machine after Thursday night’s win and having some fun with what his video game controller probably looks like when he plays hockey.

*Pro Hockey Talk has the details of the Erik Gudbranson boarding hit on Frank Vatrano from last night that looks like it’s going to get the Vancouver D-man suspended.

*Oliver Ekman-Larsson is still adjusting to the changes that are taking place with the Arizona Coyotes as they struggle in the desert.

*The Maple Leafs are looking and acting like contenders early on up in Toronto, and that would be a very good thing for the NHL.

*For something completely different: The Backstreet Boys are going country? Now I’ve definitely seen it all.


What’s next for Patriots’ banged-up receiver corps?

What’s next for Patriots’ banged-up receiver corps?

Every Friday, Tom E. Curran, Mike Giardi and Phil Perry answer your Patriots questions in a joint mailbag, or Friday Bag as they call it.


Got a question for the trio? Hit them up on Twitter using the hashtag #FridayBag. Here’s this week’s installment:

PP: Don't hit the panic button just yet on this receiver group, DD. Dorsett's knee has been a bit of an issue since Week 3. He had it iced up on Thursday in the Patriots locker room, and he's been wearing a compression sleeve on the knee consistently for a few weeks now. He played 20 snaps against Tampa and he saw 11 against the Jets last weekend. Unless he had a significant setback, which I don't believe he has, he should still be available as the team's No. 4 this weekend. As far as Hogan goes, that was a brutal shot he took to the ribs, but he remained in the game, and he's been practicing this week on a limited basis. Brandin Cooks is healthy, as is Danny Amendola. A few bumps and bruises for this group, but I don't think it's anything that is going to precipitate a roster move. They have two receivers on the practice squad in Cody Hollister and Riley McCarron, but there's no indication that any call-up is imminent. 

PP: Malcom Brown is relatively quiet when media members are in the locker room, but he's a clown-around-the-outside-of-the-scrum-when-a-teammate-is-being-interviewed guy. Surprised but not floored that Long would've given him that crown last year. I'd say when Long and Rob Ninkovich were together hamming it up in 2016, their corner of the locker room was probably the funniest. As far as this year goes, guys like Eric Rowe and Adam Butler are sneaky funny. Rob Gronkowski has been good for a laugh or two every week at his press conferences. He and our buddy Mike Reiss at ESPN need to go on tour at some point. They're the Gillette Stadium version of Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart. 

PP: Hey, Rich. Thanks for checking in. I'd say the chances of trading for Gilmore are extremely low. Like, zero. The trade deadline is Halloween. Would they cut bait before then after giving him an $18 million signing bonus and guaranteeing him $40 million overall? Given his contract and his play this season, there figure to be very few if any buyers. It would be the ultimate sell-low. And unless Butler ends up receiving much less on the open market than we think he will, my opinion is that he's likely headed elsewhere following the season. Never say never, but that's seemed like the outlook for Butler since Gilmore put pen to paper on his contract. On Martellus Bennett, the Packers aren't giving up on him. He hasn't been overwhelmingly productive in the passing game, but he's their top tight end. And with Aaron Rodgers out, Green Bay is probably going to want as many experienced short-to-intermediate options as possible. Patriots haven't gotten much from either Dwayne Allen or Jacob Hollister this season, but Bennett is not walking through that door. If the production at that position behind Gronkowski continues to be lacking, keep an eye on Will Tye, who recently signed to the Patriots practice squad. He's a more experienced player than the Patriots typically keep on that 10-man unit. 

PP: It's hard to argue that they do when they have other players on the roster who either don't chip in on special teams at all (David Harris) or play a minimal role (Jacob Hollister) in the kicking game holding roster spots. At least guys like Brandon King, Nate Ebner, Matthew Slater, Marquis Flowers, Geneo Grissom and Brandon Bolden give the team productive special-teams snaps on a consistent basis. And they all have to be ready to contribute in the other phases of the game. As we've seen with players like Jonathan Jones and Johnson Bademosi, there's a chance you're called upon to play a legitimate role either offensive or defensively in any given week. To this point, at least, both of those players have performed when asked.

TC: Very simple Wally, it’s Dr. Robert Leonard. Call 1-800-GET-HAIR if your salad is wilting. And that hair you can witness yourselves on Pregame Live and Postgame Live at 6:30 before Falcons-Patriots and immediately after.

TC: The Falcons defense struggled with tripping over their tongues more than anything else. That game – on rewatch – is fascinating because the Patriots didn’t struggle offensively, they just pooped themselves. They had six first-half drives. Four of them went into Atlanta territory. They had drives ended at the Atlanta 33 and 23 in the first half because of a fumble and a pick. Anyway, that doesn’t answer your question. The speed of the Falcons defense was a problem and that was at all three levels – defensive line on Pats OL, linebackers quick to swarm and help on Julian Edelman and closing speed of the safeties. To me, it’s part of the reason the team went away from a productive player they really liked in LeGarrette Blount. He just didn’t afford any two-way threat when he was on the field and a fast defense would swarm him before he could plant his foot and get upfield the way a smaller back would. So yes, the dual-threat capability of Lewis and White will be a factor. And I’m fascinated to see how the Falcons play with Edelman out and Gronk in.

TC: My Fine Man! Mentioned it to him in our NBCSports Boston studio recently and he shrugged a bit and didn’t really offer an answer other than that he’s still getting up before dawn and working out. He indicated that post-football life – for a player who emptied the bucket for so long every week – is interesting. He’s never actually had a “fall” to himself and his family and he enjoys it. He also misses all the things that a guy who plays into his 30s and has the success he did misses – the camaraderie, the thrill of game day and all that.

MG: Jacob, this goes all the way back to the offseason, if you ask me. No new deal, the big deal for Gilmore, the inability to work out a trade with the Saints brought Butler back to a situation he was desperate to get out of this spring. He did all the right things after that - in terms of coming to voluntary workouts and whatnot - but at some point during training camp, his play went sideways. Once it did, I think Butler struggled with his confidence, ended up losing snaps in week two at New Orleans and even now - despite the two big plays at MetLife - his play continues to be spotty. I think if Eric Rowe was healthy, Butler would be on the block. 

MG: TJ from back in the day! Give me a pass rusher, and give me one ASAP. Cassius Marsh has loads of athleticism but is struggling on the discipline front, and Hightower is not a 30 pass rush a game guy. At least I think he isn’t. Someone who can get home quick would cover up some of the sins from that back end, and we know there have been far too many to this point.

How did you celebrate Jimmy G being named as a practice player of the week?

MG: Jimmy and I sat outside the TB12 facility at Patriot Place and drank beer while eating Doritos. It was glorious.

MG: See above answer.