But during the Celtics' 91-84 loss in Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday, Ray was more Splenda than Sugar. Allen missed all 13 of his shots from the floor, one shy of a record for Finals futility, and it was just the eighth oh-fer of Allen's 1,119-game career, including the postseason (once out of every 140 games, on average).
"That?s why you always have to be humble," Allen said. "I never hang my head. Tomorrow is always another opportunity."
For whatever reason, Allen just didn?t have it at the Garden. Maybe it was the coast-to-coast flight between games, or the Derek Fisher knee to Allen's thigh. Either way, the sharpshooter's sniper rifle was loaded with blanks.
"Every shot that I took, I felt like it was just a little short," said Allen, who had two points, four rebounds and two assists.
It also came two days after Allen set a Finals record with eight 3-pointers, so the hiccup in his stroke was that much more surprising.
"It's a hell of a swing," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "It's basketball. That?s why you can't worry about it. He'll be back in the gym [Wednesday] and getting ready for the next game. I thought he was pressing early on some of them, and honestly, I thought all of his shots looked flat. I didn?t think he had any legs."
Allen turned in the worst shooting performance of his career, outdoing an 0-for-9 in 2008. His only previous postseason oh-fer came in the Celtics' Game 1 victory against the Cavs in the 2008 Eastern Conference semifinals when he missed all four field-goal attempts and finished scoreless.
Even though Allen was noticeably out of rhythm, his teammates kept going back to him. It's happened every time he's taken the floor with the Celtics, who have never lost trust in one of the most successful shooters in the history of the game.
"There's no script to it," Paul Pierce said. "You do one thing
one game, but it doesn?t mean it's going to happen the next. Win or
lose, or how you play, that?s the way the game goes."
With the C's trailing 84-80 and 54 seconds remaining, they had a play drawn up for Allen to shoot a 3 from the corner, but it clanged harmlessly off the rim. Hot or cold, the Celtics will live or die with Allen when they need a big shot, and despite Tuesday night's performance, they'll all move forward toward a new day.