Ray Allen looks important.
The Celtics shooting guard is always dressed impeccably. And when he speaks, people straighten up and listen.
But before tonight’s Game 5, Allen’s confidence hadn’t translated over to his performance on the court this series. The silky smooth shooter appeared tentative, according to Pistons coach Flip Saunders.
“I think the previous times we played he had a little bit more hesitation in shooting,” said Saunders. “He was not hesitating tonight.”
Allen poured in 29 points on 9 of 15 shooting tonight, including 5 of 6 from beyond the arc. His jumper with 1:02 remaining put the Celtics up by three and calmed the nerves of the crowd, and two free throws with 6.3 seconds left also helped to seal the win.
“Ray is going to continue to be Ray, regardless of how he shoots,” said Celtics forward Paul pierce. “Just his presence on the floor alone is a great help. Tonight he just happened to have it really, really going. He was real aggressive pretty much throughout the game, and we're going to need that from him. If he plays like that, it's tough to beat us.”
Said P.J. Brown: "It was good to see Ray back in his groove."
For his part, Allen said he takes comfort in his routine. Even when he isn’t scoring, he tries to contribute to the team in some way.
“If I wasn't shooting the ball tonight, I didn't want to be sitting on the defensive end,” said Allen. “I wanted to make sure that I made defensive plays and tried to make [my teammates] better.”
On this night, the offense and the defense were both clicking. And that's a scary thought for Saunders.
"When he's out on the floor, no matter how many shots he's missed, you've still got to guard him against the next one because he's too good a shooter," he said.