Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, always an aficionado of the 3-point shot, had plenty of wisdom to impart regarding Celtics guard Ray Allen and his pursuit of Reggie Miller's all-time treys record.
"He's gonna get it," the coach said Sunday. "That's for sure."
Well, no kidding.
Allen enters Sunday's contest with 2,555 career 3s to his name, five away from tying Miller and six away from wiping his name out of the record books entirely. Sometime during the next week — either Sunday against the Magic, Monday in Charlotte or Thursday back home against the Lakers — the record should fall.
But Van Gundy had plenty more to say about the Celtics' All-Star guard. The Magic coach has been watching Allen throughout his 15 years in the league, and he's always been a big fan.
"He's just a great, great player," Van Gundy said of Allen. "I think what's really remarkable is how long he's sustained this level of play. I think it's a tribute to all the work that he puts in. He's playing better now than he has in the last two years, which to me is incredible. That position especially, those wing positions, if you really study the league over the years, those guys tend to drop off even quicker in terms of age than say, big guys or point guards. To have him playing the way he is, at his age and as many years as he's been in the league, is incredible. It's a tribute to him and his work ethic."
Despite having over 1,000 games on his NBA odometer over a decade and a half, Allen is looking better than ever today, at age 35. He's shooting 45.7 percent from 3-point range, a career high, and 50.7 from the field at large, also a personal best. His production at this age reflects a Miller-like durability — perhaps Allen, too, could remain in the league until his 40th birthday.
"At least in the time I've been in the league, there's nobody that compares to those two guys," Van Gundy said of Allen and Miller. "And it's not just their ability to shoot the ball — it's the energy with which they play, and the plays that Ray makes off the catch-and-shoot. You try to put a second defender on him to take away the jump shot, and he makes the plays to open people. As good as [the Celtics] are offensively, and they give us trouble in a lot of areas, the hardest thing we have to defend is him running off screens. Not just because of his shooting, but because when you take that away, he can make all the plays."
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