Hobbled Ray Allen surprised Heat with dunk
WALTHAM - Maybe the most surprising play from Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals? Ray Allen driving the lane and throwing down a one-handed dunk in the third quarter of Friday’s 101-91 Celtics win.
Hampered by bone spurs in his right ankle that have affected his lift on jump shots, Allen certainly wasn’t expecting the jam.
“A little surprised. I was feeling pretty good,’’ he said. “It was one of those situations, we had played and had moved the ball around often, and you’re so worried about the shooters, you’re worried about Paul [Pierce] on the perimeter, [Rajon] Rondo got down the lane.
“I think it was an opportune time for me, because as I got to the paint they were like, ‘Is he going to pass it? Do we have to worry about the 3-point shot?’ ’’
“I made it all the way.’’
Allen has had two solid games in a row, scoring 10 points in Game 3 after getting 13 in Game 2. He is averaging 40 minutes per game this series, after seeing much less time against Atlanta (28 minutes per game) and Philadelphia (31.9).
Foot off the gas
Miami began hitting shots to cut into a 22-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter of Game 3, but Celtics coach Doc Rivers said his team contributed to the run by becoming sluggish on offense. Against the Heat’s defense, that’s a no-no.
“We started milking the clock, and Miami’s just too good defensively to start your offense with 10 seconds on the [shot] clock and expect to score,’’ Rivers said. “They’re just too good, and we need extra passes, so we have to start anywhere from 18 to 16 on the clock. That allows us to get to that second side of the floor, it gives us extra passes. If you think you’re going to play a low clock against that defense and that athleticism, that’s not going to happen.’’
Despite the Celtics’ age - some would say experience - a quicker tempo, when available, is desired.
“We want to run, and I think people keep thinking we don’t want to run,’’ Rivers said. “We do want to run, and when we do that we’re really good.’’
Assigning a value
LeBron James is a three-time NBA MVP, but a case could be made that Dwyane Wade is more important to the Heat. As long as Wade is contained, the theory goes, let James have his points. The hard part, though, is containing Wade.
“I can’t give you all the things we do to slow him down, but he’s been slowed down before and he’s come back pretty well,’’ Rondo said. “He’s a strong player, a good player, he’s going to be aggressive.’’
Wade scored 18 points on Friday, but needed 20 field goal attempts to do it. He never went to the free throw line.
In last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals between the Celtics and Heat, Miami won the first two games at home, then the Celtics took Game 3 at TD Garden. Just like this year, at least so far. Celtics fans hope history doesn’t repeat itself, because the Heat won Games 4 and 5 last season to eliminate the Green . . . Rondo, when asked how long it’s been since the Celtics have had a full, legitimate team practice: “Probably like nine months ago. I don’t know, it’s been a while, but obviously we’re here in the conference finals, so it hasn’t hurt us.’’