Ray Allen was obviously the hugest story of the off-season from a Celtics perspective. The aging veteran's contract was up and, after being delegated to a bench role, he decided to take his talents - along with a sizable paycut - to South Beach and the rival Miami Heat.
Ray was called Judas and much worse before fans moved onto getting excited about Jason Terry and Courtney Lee. Celtics fans convinced themselves that the Celtics not only didn't need Ray Allen, but they were better off without him.
Based on how the Celtics season has gone thus far, it looks like Ray might have made the right decision. The storied franchise and perennial contender has a losing record around halfway into the season as they till try to find their chemistry.
The team is still getting used to playing together, but that excuse is starting to fall on deaf ears. While Terry and Lee were great additions on paper, you have to recognize at this point that it hasn't panned out.
When Ray Allen signed with the Heat, most fans embraced the mantra, "We've got Jason Terry, we're good" (including Rondo himself according to rumors).
It shouldn't really need saying but Jason Terry is no Ray Allen. While Terry has been spared much of the blame in the Celtics' slide - and rightly so - it's foolish to think that he will or can fill in that production. His contributions so far have been riddled with inconsistency. For instance, he only had four shots the other night.
The hole left by Ray Allen's departure has been clearly noted by the teams the Celtics have played. CSNNE's Jessica Camerato compiled some in a piece for CSNNE:
Rip Hamilton (Chicago Bulls)
“They’re different. When you go into the game, you know with him, he’s coming off curls, he’s coming off pindowns. He really spaces the floor for Paul [Pierce] to go ahead and to what he do, for KG [Kevin Garnett] to do what he do. It was a guy that you never ever could not guard.”
Ramon Sessions (Charlotte Bobcats)
“You can definitely tell they look different. They just play a little different without him out there. When he comes in, he kind of solidifies that second unit. I think they brought in JT [Jason Terry] to fill that role. He kind of started off to a slow start but I think once it gets deeper into the season, being a veteran, he’ll kind of take over that role. You definitely defend them differently any time Ray’s not out on the court because Ray is a pure shooter and they ran a lot of sets for him with that second unit. It’s definitely a different vibe and a different feel with that second unit now that he’s not out there. They still play the same way, I think. Of course in the back of their minds, they probably miss him a little bit because he’s a guy that can hit big shots. But I think JT will step in and fill that void.”
Luol Deng (Chicago Bulls)
“It’s going to be difficult. Ray Allen takes so much attention and he gets guys shots. He made a big difference for them. You could always replace everyone. It’s just, how do you do it? It’s not going to be one guy. Don’t think that you’re going to bring one guy in and he’s going to just fill in the shoes. It takes a team effort and a team goes in a different direction, whether it’s Paul Pierce or Kevin or [Rajon] Rondo who are scoring more. I think people fall into, ‘This guy’s gone, so this guy has to be that guy.’ It’s never like that. Every individual is different. That’s why every time you get a superstar in the NBA, people want to compare the new player to him and it’s never the same because everyone is so different, our fingerprints are different. You’re just not going to get the same thing.”
Marcin Gortat (Phoenix Suns)
“Obviously they’re missing their sharpshooter, but still, they’ve got so much talent. They’ve got so many guys that can shoot the ball, they still run a great system, they’ve still got KG who’s running the whole defense, they have Rajon Rondo who can distribute the ball so well. So I don’t think there’s a huge drop off from Ray Allen. Obviously the team would be better if he would have stayed, but right now they’re still pretty good.”
Tony Allen (Memphis Grizzlies)
“That’s a Hall of Fame kind of guy. So that right there just lets you know, they’re missing Ray. Period, point blank. They’re missing Ray.”
Leave it to Tony Allen to put it bluntly.
The general takeaway from the players' perspectives is that the Celtics can't fill the Ray Allen void with one person. They're a talented team, but no Ray is no Ray. Allen isn't having an All-Star season in Miami or anything, but if you care to torture yourself google "Ray Allen game winner". You'll see several game winners with Ray in a Heat jersey.
One clear difference you can see is that this year the Celtics are currently 25th in three-point field goal percentage. Last year they were seventh.
The Celtics can still get better, but the fact of the matter is that one of their many issues this year is that they are still learning to play without #20, the Three Point King. Mike Saver 1/23/2013 08:39:00 PM Tweet