Ray Allen's nose got obliterated by Dwyane Wade's elbow early on in the first quarter of Saturday's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal matchup with the Miami Heat. He checked out to get it patched up, technically checked back into the game, but never actually checked back into the game. He was a non-factor the rest of the way, and finished with a less than inspiring eight points, hitting just two of his nine shots. These are types of things elbows from Dwyane Wade will do to you. My suggestion: Avoid them.
When you've watched a guy like Ray Allen shoot a jump shot the exact same way for the last three seasons, you can pretty much tell when he's not shooting it that way, which was the case on Saturday night after he returned from the locker room. Some shooters who employ a more fluid form (Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, etc.), making it more difficult to tell when their shot just doesn't look right. But when it comes to a guy like Ray Allen, who's form is as close to picture-perfect as you're going to get, when it's suddenly not so picture-perfect, you can't help but notice. I'm not a doctor, and I sure as heck don't play one on TV, but I'm going to hazard a guess that the elbow Ray took - the one that was causing large enough amounts of blood to force him back to the locker room - threw him off for the rest of the evening.
The good news is, no reports have surfaced about the nose causing him any trouble since the game. He hasn't had to miss practice, and, besides most likely having trainer Ed Lacerte or Dr. Brian McKeon take a routine look at it, there don't appear to be any other issues surrounding it. So, as far we know, the nose is good to go.
Ray's field goal percentage for Game 1 came out to 22.2 percent when it was all said and done. Only five times during the regular season did Ray shoot 25 percent or less from the field in a game. More importantly, Ray followed up each of those games with a game in which he scored in double figures. Even more important than that is the fact that the Celtics won four of those five follow-up games. The lone loss? March 31 against the Thundahhh. I'm sure you remember that game, seeing as we were playing Kevin Durant, a.k.a. Michael (You Kiss Your Mother With That Mouth?) Jordan.
Tony Allen played the role of savior in Game 1, by checking in for Ray and finished with a playoff career-high 14 points. But with Kevin Garnett facing his one-game suspension tonight, it will be that much more crucial for Ray to get going and hit open shots. I labeled him as my player to watch in our playoff predictions, specifically because of the impact he can have on the offensive end. If the Heat are going to stick Wade on him, let Ray just run and run and run and run, and wear Wade out as much as possible. Throw screen after screen at him, and if Miami's content on switching, once Wade's forced into a mismatch with someone like Rasheed Wallace, Glen Davis, or even Kendrick Perkins, pump the ball down low and exploit that mismatch. And if Wade's stuck guarding one of our seven-footers down low, doesn't that mean one of Miami's seven-footers is now trying to chase Ray Allen around? And if the Heat take Wade off of Ray, they aren't exactly loaded with worthy defensive replacements. Ray got plenty of good looks in the first half on Saturday night; it's just that the effects of the aforementioned elbow had not yet worn off. The Heat could be in for some long nights once Ray starts burying the shots we all know he's capable of knocking down.
Some other reasons to be optimistic tonight, despite the absence of Kevin Garnett, include:
- No more flu for Rajon Rondo. He wreaked a considerable amount of havoc while ill (10 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds, two steals), and, now feeling better, he should be extra aggressive with KG out.
- Paul Pierce is hopefully really angry about the whole suspension thing. I'm banking on a 20-point evening from him, as he shouldn't have any trouble staying motivated with Richardson in front of him all night.
- What better game for Rasheed Wallace to have an impact on? Even if he doesn't start in place of Garnett tonight, his minutes are bound to go up. He has to produce at some point in time, right? Right?