Here's how Ray Allen explained his shooting approach to SBNation's Paul Flannery a few days before hitting the shot of his career with five seconds to go in Game 6:
There's no target. don't aim. If I'm aiming that's when I'm missing. The way I look at it is just get the ball in the air. You do it over and over again you should never have a target.
It's kind of an infuriating explanation, isn't it? Especially after last night's shot, which was one of those holy-shit moments that are held up as proof that sometimes sports are completely inexplicable. "A miracle," they're calling it. But when Allen talks about shooting, he makes the shit sound so basic.
There's no target. Just get the ball in the air. Do it over and over again. Great, thanks, Ray. I'll be sure to do that in my next pick-up game.
But the greatest thing about Ray Allen's genius as a shooter is how lacking it is in mystique. Five years ago, when Allen first arrived in Boston to join the Celtics, Jackie MacMullan attempted to discover Allen's secret:
Everyone wishes they could shoot like Ray. They tell him that all the time. They are envious, they say, of his God-given talent.
"An insult," says Allen. "God could care less whether I can shoot a jump shot."
As the Celtics kick off their campaign for an NBA championship tonight in the opening round of the playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks, Allen will leave nothing to chance. He will line up for the tip exactly as he has for his other 73 games. His pregame ritual does not waver: a nap from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m., a meal of chicken and white rice at 2:30, an arrival time at the gym at precisely 3:45 to stretch. Allen will shave his head, then walk out to the court at exactly 4:30. He will methodically take shots from both baselines, both elbows, and the top of the key.
The routine. That's the secret; only it's not really a secret. It's just one guy dedicating himself so thoroughly to his discipline that he becomes a kind of abstraction in the process. It's as if Allen is more shooter than man, at this point, and that's because he's spent countless hours turning himself into a high-powered tool whose only purpose is to shoot basketballs. How else to explain Rain Man-esque behavior like this?
That shot last night wasn't "miraculous" any more than a hammer hitting a nail cleanly into its groove is miraculous. It was just routine.