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2014 NBA Playoffs: Ray Allen’s Late Heroics Help Push Heat to 2-1 Lead Over Pacers

LeBron and Wade were vital but it was Ray Allen’s late-game heroics that sealed the win for the Miami Heat in Game 3.

Ray Allen
Ray Allen

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The box score from Saturday’s Game 3 will show that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were the stars in Miami’s win over the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals. However, the highlights will tell a completely different story.

The Heat certainly needed both James and Wade, who scored a combined 49 points and were the only players on either team to tally more than 20. The team was down by 14 points early on in the first quarter and those two helped chip away at the lead. Miami eventually went ahead and hung on for a 99-87 victory.

However, the game may not have been won without the heroics of a bench player – Ray Allen.

This wasn’t Allen’s first time knocking down huge shots, of course. The sharpshooter has been one of the league’s most accurate players during his career and he again proved his mettle, scoring 16 big points in the pivotal Game 3 win. As they so often have, many of Allen’s shots came late in the game.

Following five straight Paul George points to cut the Heat’s lead to only two, Allen knocked down his first three-pointer to extend the lead back to five. Later in the quarter, Allen scored seven consecutive points, including two more shots from beyond the arc to extend a four-point lead to 11. His final three-point bucket extended the lead to 15 points and really put the game out of reach. In all, he scored 13 points in that final period.

Allen really is some of the glue that holds the Heat together. Miami is one of the NBA’s elite teams, but his presence adds another dimension simply because James and Wade can attract so much attention on their own. He is one of the bench players that can come in and play like a starter when others are having off nights. Plus, having Allen on the court makes it difficult to double team James or Wade because leaving him wide open can be a death sentence.

The interesting part of Allen’s night was that for three quarters, he was on his way to another lackluster performance. After a solid Game 1, Allen struggled badly in Game 2, making only one of his five shots for a grand total of three points in 24 minutes of action. Heading into the fourth quarter of Game 3, he had only three points (all on free throws) and wasn’t all that involved in the team’s offense.

Nevertheless, head coach Erik Spoelstra didn’t give up on him and despite the slow start, keeping Allen on the court remained a priority.

In the end, it was a gamble that paid off.

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