Updated: October 31, 2012, 9:32 AM ET

1. Ray Allen Adjusts To Role Of Torching C's

By Brian Windhorst
ESPN.com

MIAMI -- Ray Allen walked away from the Boston Celtics' bench and 24 seconds later executed a perfect catch-and-shoot 3-pointer from the left corner, where one of the greatest shooters in NBA history has made more shots than anywhere else.

It's no wonder Allen found himself a little lost in his own head Tuesday night. A man who spends an enormous amount of time trying to develop muscle memory had trouble adjusting to his new reality as a member of the Heat and an enemy of the Celtics. He wasn't the only one.

"First play on the floor and we leave Ray open on the baseline corner," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "You'd think we'd know better."

Ray Allen
Steve Mitchell/US PresswireDoc Rivers had a civil greeting for Ray Allen.

Allen's Miami debut probably couldn't have gone any better. He scored 19 points off the bench, the blueprint of the role the Heat want him to fill. Not only was his jumper working, but so was his floor game as he successfully showed that his bounce had returned after offseason ankle surgery. And his new team beat his old team 120-107, which is more than a footnote.

But still, Allen found himself in a bit of a fog trying to comprehend just exactly what was happening. If it still looks a little odd to fans to see Allen running around screens and quick-releasing jumpers in a Heat uniform, know that he's still struggling with that reality, too.

"A couple times I would see somebody running down the floor and I had to ask myself, which team was I guarding?" Allen said. "I'm looking at both jerseys and my natural inclination is to guard the Miami jersey. My brain right now has to be switched over."

Once, after Celtics forward Brandon Bass made a play, Allen almost reached out to offer congratulations before catching himself. This, clearly, is going to take some getting used to.

The moments on the floor, though, did not compare to the awkwardness Allen faced in his first interactions with the Celtics. Obviously, this had been in the back of his mind since the schedule came out in July, and it was something both he and the Heat were conscious of trying to manage.

Allen was sitting at the scorer's table ready to check in for the first time late in the first quarter when Dwyane Wade drew a shooting foul. The whistle triggered a TV timeout and Allen was supposed to go in for Wade. During the break, Allen went to Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and asked if he could go in for another player, instead of replacing Wade later, so he could stop by the Celtics' bench coming out of the timeout to get the expectedly difficult greetings over with. Spolestra made the adjustment so Allen could enter the game and get the discomfort out of the way.

This was how much of the night was for Allen, having to consider how to handle unusual circumstances. Such as during the pregame ring ceremony, which Allen spent in the Heat locker room in an uneasy kinship with his ex-teammates, who were down the hall in the visitor's locker room avoiding it as well.

When Allen approached the Celtics bench, he got cursory handshakes from Rivers and the coaching staff. He didn't even try to bump fists with Kevin Garnett, who stared the other way when Allen tapped him on the shoulder.

"Did you expect him to react?" Allen said. "I don't take anything from it. Kevin is an intense competitor. You just have to respect that. It was my peace offering."

Allen had brief on-court exchanges with Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce and, eventually, Garnett did acknowledge him ... and set a few solid screens into his chest.

"I'm an intense person," Garnett said. "I'm just trying to play the game."

By the time Allen sees the Celtics' again, in late January, he should be well past this stage. Then it won't be about how his ex-teammates size him up and instead will be all about how the Boston fans will treat him in his return. It might be tiresome already, but this was the baggage that came with his decision to switch sides over the summer, and he knew it.

Because of the nature of the game and the nature of the rivalry, there was no choice but for the ancillary stuff to take center stage in the opener. But it will pass, and probably because Allen will remind why he was so coveted when he made it known he was willing to relocate.

Beyond all the trash talk and handshake sagas, the Heat likely wouldn't have won Tuesday without such a strong performance from their key free-agent addition. What Allen wants more than anything after these past few stressful days is that to be the case throughout the season.

"He let his game to all the talking," said LeBron James. "It's a gift for us to have a Hall of Famer coming off the bench."


2. Around The Association

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?