EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


May 20, 2008

Shooting Blanks: Allen's mysterious slump could cost C's the Piston series

Bill Burt column

BOSTON — Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers took the question after the thrilling Game 7 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers and ran with it:

What is wrong with Ray Allen?

Rivers, who is honest to a fault sometimes, was not biting on this one.

"Oh, they were doubling him every time he touched the ball," said Rivers. "It was crazy. They had two people all over him. And he did what he was supposed to do and pass the ball."

Rivers was taking one for the team. He was protecting someone who needs protecting right now. But if Allen's slump continues in the Eastern Conference finals against Detroit (Game 1 is tonight in Boston), the C's will be in big trouble.

I don't know what Rivers was watching against the Cleveland Cavaliers the last two weeks, but most of the time it was Wally Szczerbiak — yes, Wally (Bleepin') Szczerbiak — in his face. Yes, the same Wally Szczerbiak who had defensive replacements when he played for the Celtics.

Allen is lucky the Celtics are alive to talk about it.

Since Game 6 of the opening-round series with Atlanta, the 2007-08 version of The Big Three has really been The Big Two.

Allen has averaged a paltry nine points per game over that span and hasn't hit more than two 3-pointers, his bread and butter. He is averaging about half of what he did during the regular season, 17.4.

"I'm taking what they're giving me," said Allen. "We have enough players here where I don't have to score 30 to win. Trust me, that's a refreshing feeling, knowing it all isn't on me."

One would think that not having that pressure of always being the 25-point-a-night guy would help Allen thrive even more.

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