Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 6/2/13
MIAMI Ray Allen has displayed plenty of energy on the court this season. But hes done nothing for the energy crisis. Since his second NBA season of 1997-98, Allen has arrived at arenas about 3 hours before games. He soon heads out for a 20-minute shooting session, when he often is the only player on the court. For home games, the Miami Heat guard drives to AmericanAirlines Arena. On the road, he used to take taxis to the arena since team bus trips to the game didnt arrive until much later. Thats how it was on the road for the Heat the first part of this season after Allen had signed with the team last summer as a free agent. Then, to help out Allen and some teammates who would join him for workouts, the Heat figured it was time for a change. We had Ray going over in the cab and we had two buses (trips made by the team bus at staggered times), and then other guys started to go with him, Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. LeBron (James) went a few times. Mike Miller, J.J. (James Jones), Bird (Chris Birdman Andersen). Then we said, Wait a minute. If we have millions of dollars going in these cabs, this organization needs to create a new bus. For 18 years (that Spoelstra has been with the organization), we had two buses. And now because of Ray Allen, we have three buses. Its called the early shooters bus. Allen is joined on the bus by a pair of Heat staffers who assist with his shooting drills and members of the training staff. Allen sometimes is the only player on the bus, and he never takes a game off. I dont help that none whatsoever, Allen quipped about the team bus making an extra trip not exactly aiding the energy crisis. Before home games, though, Allen at least doesn't add to traffic jams since he arrives prior to rush hour. He's almost always the only Heat player shooting very early before home games. One might think Allen is working even more on his shot now due to a prolonged slump. Over his past nine playoff games, the most prolific 3-point marksman in NBA regular season and playoff history is shooting just 18 of 61 (29.5 percent), including 9 of 35 on 3-pointers (26.7 percent). Allen has a career 40.1 percentage from long range. But Allen, 37, insists he hasnt changed a thing. Observations of a workout last month prior to his slump and at last Thursdays Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against Indiana show that indeed to be the case. Youre working toward long-term success, Allen, whose Heat face the Pacers on Monday night at American Airlines in Game 7, said of not altering his routine whether hes been shooting well or poorly. If youre working hard, the averages are going to average out. But I dont get too excited about shots I make because Im supposed make them. Im more perplexed when I dont make it. Shooting I wont say is second nature anymore; its first nature. When Allen goes through one of his workouts, its as well choreographed as a long-running Broadway play. His rebounders are often Heat player development coach Octavio De La Grana and video intern Eric Glass. Allen begins each workout by launching a 40-footer from the left side behind the Heat bench. He said hes made about two or three out of his last eight or nine. Allen then goes through a routine in which he shoots free throws, mid-range shots and 3-pointers from the same spots around the arc that are used for the long-distance shootout during All-Star Weekend. He shoots 3-pointers when catching the ball in transition. He runs off imaginary screens. I try to keep it precise and effective and get the shots that I need, said Allen, a 17-year veteran. I try to get a good sweat. I shoot using different footwork and different angles. It all started in Allens second season of 1997-98, when he was developing into a star with Milwaukee. He heeded the advice of two veteran guards. My first year, I was trying to figure it out but I didnt know exactly what to do, Allen said of a routine. But then I had Michael Curry and Elliot Perry as my guys, and they got me off on the right foot. We all started to go over (to the arena) well before anybody got on the floor and get shots up. You didnt have droves of guys coming on the floor when we were trying to get shots up. Curry has been out of the NBA since 2005 and Perry since 2002. But Allen is still firing away regularly well before games. Out nickname for him is Everyday Ray, Spoelstra said. Its every day. Its not every other day. Its not some days. Its every single day Ray. His work ethic and his discipline are in the top percentage in this league. Ninety-nine percent of the players do not have that type of consistent work ethic. Spoelstra figured there might actually be a day, though, when Allen wasnt on the court early. He was slated to miss an April 5 game at Charlotte, one of just three regular-season games Allen sat out. He had sprained his ankle and we sat him out the Charlotte game, Spoelstra said. I was curious. This is probably one that hes going to take the third bus (to the arena). He cant shoot on the ankle. But, sure enough, he took the shooters early bus. I get over there and hes already finished his routine. Im like, What are you doing. Youre not playing tonight. He had a sprained ankle but he still wanted to get up free throws. One disadvantage Allen had on a bad ankle was being less agile when it came to dodging dance-team members practicing for the game. When Allen shoots, its so early that just about anything might be happening on the court besides basketball. At recent home games, hes had to elude not only the Heat Dancers but also members of the teams Golden Oldies. Hes had to deal with blaring music and sound checks. On the road, with teams not used to players showing up so early, it really can be an adventure. The lights might be low. It could be hard to find balls. Halftime acts might be practicing. And there was what happened a few years ago in the postseason when Allen was with Boston and the Celtics played at Cleveland. Ive dodged a lot of cheerleaders in my career, Allen said. Ive had people seemingly doing it on purpose in the playoffs. They know Im going to be out there. They know my routine and just try to distract me. Cleveland was one spot (where it happened). They (cheerleaders) were trying to sabotage me. It was pretty funny. But it actually kind of helped me because it helped me navigate through it and focus more. Jones said when he shot with Allen before a game this season in Chicago there were cheerleaders on the floor as well as the halftime show of guys jumping up and down on a trampoline. Jones said it was a circus out there, but that Allen was undaunted. Thats a key to his success, being able to consistency have a window to hone his craft, Jones said of Allens workouts. Its all led to Allen becoming the NBAs leading 3-point shooter with 2,857 made in the regular season. In Game 3 of a first-round series sweep over Milwaukee, Allen broke Reggie Millers playoff record of 320 made 3-pointers. Hes now up to 337. The series against the Bucks was a banner one for Allen. In the four games, he averaged 16.5 points while making 13 of 28 3-pointers for 46.4 percent, numbers well above his regular-season average of 10.9 and 3-point percentage of 41.9. But after scoring 21 points in Game 2 of an East semifinal against Chicago, Allens game has fallen off considerably. In the nine games since, hes averaged just 6.0 points with a high of 11. I figure one game I took shots at the shot-clock (buzzer), Allen said when asked to pinpoint a reason for his slump. If you watch a lot of my shots, I feel like Im not rushing them but theyre more hurried than I would like. Thats just the flow of the game. I got to find myself getting in a better rhythm. In the meantime, Spoelstra has been sticking with Allen. Asked Sunday about Allens shooting troubles heading into Mondays huge game, Spoelstra said simply, Hell be there. Where Allen also will be Monday is on the court at AmericanAirlines Arena honing his craft more than three hours before tipoff. Chris Tomasson can be reached at christomasson@hotmail.com or on Twitter @christomasson.
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