Counting by threes tonight

Allen approaches his shot at history

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By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / February 10, 2011

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WALTHAM — Everyone in the building will be waiting for the next 3-pointer.

Someone — Rajon Rondo or Paul Pierce or Nate Robinson — will be dying to make the pass. A chance to have a hand in history.

Reggie Miller will be courtside at TD Garden as the Celtics face the Lakers tonight, holding his breath to make the call on TNT. He will have a chance to pass the torch with class, his record for career 3-pointers standing not even six years before being chased down, shot by a man with a picture-perfect shot.

But Celtics guard Ray Allen, who needs one to tie Miller and two to surpass him, will be worried about the ones after that.

Why stop there?

“Then you get back sitting home five years later and they say, ‘You know what? There was a discrepancy,’ ’’ Allen said. “I don’t need any discrepancies, I need to be way beyond what I’m getting.’’

The magic number is 2,560 — the number of threes Miller made in his starry career with the Pacers. But Allen, who may be playing at his highest level since coming to Boston in 2007, wouldn’t mind blowing by it.

“I don’t want to be two threes over it,’’ Allen said. “I want to keep going and just keep pushing, and then whatever that number’s going to be, it’s going to be.’’

The moment will end weeks of build-up, questions, analysis, and retrospectives.

“Let’s get it over with,’’ Doc Rivers joked. “My suggestion: Allow him to have two open ones early. Just get it over with. Or give him a game-winning wide-open one. I’ll take either option.’’

The last thing Allen wants is to rush the record.

“The one thing I don’t want to do is go into the game with that on my mind: ‘I’ve got to shoot a three, I’ve got to get two up real quick, bring the building to its feet,’ ’’ he said.

They should come the same way Allen’s other 115 came this season — in the natural flow of the Celtics’ offense.

In his three-plus seasons with the Celtics, Allen hasn’t gone on the season-long 3-point binges that he did in Seattle and Milwaukee. He hasn’t approached the 229 he knocked down in his last full season with the Bucks, not to mention the 269 he hit in 2005-06 to set the Sonics team record.

As an example of how prolific he used to be, Allen needed five 3-pointers in the 2006 season finale to tie Dennis Scott’s record in Seattle. He went out against the Nuggets and drilled 7 of 13 attempts.

“The whole building was there waiting for it,’’ Allen said.

With the Celtics flooded with All-Stars (four this season), Allen has had to be patient. When he came to Boston with Kevin Garnett to join Pierce and chase down a championship, Rivers had to preach to the team to make an effort to find Allen.

“Setting the right picks,’’ Rivers said. “Getting the ball to him when he’s open, not after.’’

Allen had to get used to the nights when he’d take 13 3-point attempts were gone.

“Ray was used to having the ball in his hands from Seattle,’’ Rivers said, “where he had the ball for 22 seconds and decided when to shoot, when not to shoot. Here, I just told him, ‘We’re not going to win that way.’

“To the other guys, we had to get them to understand, when Ray’s open, you have to get him the ball. It’s no coincidence he’s the most efficient he’s ever been in his life, and I think it’s because of that trust.’’

Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant came into the league with Allen in 1996, and they have had their own small rivalry. But Bryant, sitting nearly 1,200 threes behind Allen, can’t help but marvel at Allen’s accomplishment.

“I think it’s unbelievable,’’ Bryant said. “The preparation that he puts in. The time that he puts in. It hasn’t happened by accident. He puts in a lot of work.

“I’m very happy for him. We came into the league at the same time, and for Ray to still be playing at a high level is a testament to how hard he works.

“Our games are different, but we work just as hard at different things. But it’s the same commitment.’’

Allen has played out the moment in his mind. And he gets to do it in front of the home crowd.

He doesn’t expect a stoppage.

Maybe just a hat tip.

“The anticipation of it will be great,’’ Allen said, “because so many people will be waiting, expecting it and wanting to see it.’’

But most certainly, the record-breaker won’t be his last three.

Julian Benbow can be reached at

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