Ray Allen decided last night to take his talents to South Beach and join LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in a Miami Heat uniform next season.
Allen left twice as much money on the table by choosing not to remain in Boston and rather flee to chase another championship with the defending champs.
Allen was one of the most coveted free agents especially by the Heat. The talents of Allen are ones that any team would love to have. No one’s made more threes than Allen in his career and even at 37 he is believed to be a key contributor for the Heat next season.
But how much better did Miami get by adding Allen? Are the Thunder now more worried about beating the Heat this coming season than they were last year?
Allen makes the Heat better. Just not that much better. He’ll fit in just fine, get a ton of open looks from three and every time he makes one expect to hear “That’s why Miami signed him!”
He’s obviously not the same player he was even a few seasons ago. But he isn’t expected to be either.
We saw how good the Heat can look when their role players are knocking down threes. In last year’s NBA Finals, Shane Battier made 15 threes and shot .577 percent from beyond the arc. Mike Miller made seven threes in the Game 5 clincher as the Heat tied an NBA Finals record with 14 threes made as a team.
That was the best case scenario for the Heat. Allen is a great shooter but it’s not like we can sit here and predict the Heat to repeat that kind of performance from beyond the arc in a series again.
The ways the Heat will look better next year aren’t ways that Allen will help them. If Wade and Bosh have a bounce back year, that would be a much bigger deal and even more necessary for the Heat to repeat. If LeBron somehow keeps up a 30-9-6 stat line in the playoffs then they will be a really scary title contender.
Allen will probably help the Heat more throughout the regular season and make them more of a lock to come out of the Eastern Conference. It’s true that Battier and Miller were pretty much absent before the NBA Finals.
Allen will also make defenses less likely to double on Wade or LeBron when he is in the post. That’s not a good thing for most of the league but for the Thunder, that’s actually better.
People don’t realize that the best thing about LeBron is he always makes the right basketball play. It’s more important to his success than his physical abilities. That means if you double him in the post, he’s passing out to the open man, every time.
This happened to the Thunder in the NBA Finals and it played right into the Heat’s hands and to what LeBron preferred to do. Why did the Thunder have to double LeBron in the post? If you remember, it was because James Harden had to guard him so much as the series went on.
Thunder fans will and should concede defeat to Miami if they’re going to have to live with Harden guarding LeBron.
The best part about OKC’s defense up until the Finals was that they never had to double. Against the Lakers they were able to play Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum straight up. The same thing with Dirk Nowitzki in Round 1. Against the Spurs it never made sense to double anyone.
In Game 1 of the NBA Finals, the Thunder didn’t double much either. Kevin Durant was guarding LeBron and did a fantastic job on him. Durant can do a very good job on LeBron but as the series went on, Durant picked up stupid fouls and it put the Thunder in a very tough situation having to take KD off LeBron. The Heat then had a mismatch with their best player and that was all she wrote.
Ray Allen signing with the Heat doesn’t affect the thing that beat the Thunder the most in the NBA Finals. That’s why Thunder fans aren’t too scared about this signing. It’s still more about them. The Thunder have enough talent that they are in control of their destiny in becoming champions and that is comforting to think about.