When Ray Allen left Boston to go to Miami, mixed in amongst the cries of “traitor” and Kevin Garnett losing Allen’s phone number were a lot of Celtics fans saying the future Hall of Famer would not be missed. Which actually made some sense on paper — they brought in Jason Terry and Courtney Lee, they had Jeff Green coming back, the drop off would not be that severe.
But the Celtics are 20-21 and they have not been impressive save for short spurts all season. All of New England is looking for reasons and answers.
A lot of opponents told Jessica Camerato of CSNNE.com that Boston is a lot different without Ray Allen and that the Celtics miss him. Here are a few highlights, but go read the whole thing.
Richard 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 pin downs. 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.”
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.
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.”
I still expect Terry to find a better groove and help bring a little of what Ray did to the second unit, something he can do more with Avery Bradley back in the lineup.
But Allen and all the little things he brought are not so easy to replace. And without him the Celtics margin for error is just that much smaller.
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.