Ray Allen begins the play in the left corner.
At the top of the key, LeBron James dribbles, refuses to use a Chris Bosh screen, and backs out with 30.2 seconds left in the fourth quarter. LBJ is set to begin a crucial drive into the paint.
He crosses over from right-to-left and leaves his feet to jump stop, but with center Tiago Splitter on him and point guard Nando de Colo helping off of Mario Chalmers (and seemingly every other Spurs player on the floor watching him), James loses the ball for a few seconds before recovering it, now facing the opposite rim.
Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Allen (who was contemplating running back on defense when James briefly lost the ball) drifting from the left corner up to the left wing. Gary Neal, Allen’s defender, is caught in the matrix, watching LeBron operate. With the shot clock at 4, Allen ain’t thinkin’ twice once he catches the ball, launching a go-ahead trey with 22.6 seconds remaining on the clock against the starter-less Spurs:
Everyone knew that when Ray Allen left Boston and signed with the Miami during the offseason, the Heat received a significant increase in their bench productivity. The question wasn’t whether Allen, the leader in 3-point makes in an NBA career, was going to stretch the floor, but rather how much.
After nearly a full month of the NBA season, it’s safe to say that Allen has been vital to the Heat offense, which leads the league in 3-point shooting and is scoring 104.8 points per game, just 0.6 points behind Oklahoma City for the top slot.
Allen is invaluable to Miami’s title hopes; he naturally spreads the floor for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and makes the Heat that much (translation: a lot) tougher to guard in crunch time situations.