By Matt Moore, howiGit Contributing Writer, Boston, MA
As the Celtic’s Ray Allen closes in on Reggie Miller’s all-time record for three pointers made in the regular season, it’s only fitting to pit the two sharpshooters against one another. Going into Friday’s game against the Bobcats, Ray is only (34) 3-pointers behind Miller’s mark. There are two ways to approach this matchup, one being which is the better player and the other being which would you want taking the last shot with the game on the line. For me, the latter is a more interesting question because their career statistics show very similar numbers:
Miller played 18 seasons with Indiana after being selected 11th overall back in 1987. He made 2,560 3-pointers with a 39.5% shooting percentage. Overall, he averaged 18.2ppg, 3rpg, and 3ast with a 47.1% field goal percentage. He made 5 All-Star teams and didn’t win a Championship.
Allen is in his 15th season, his third with the Celtics, after stops in Milwaukee and Seattle. He’s made 2,526 3-pointers with a 39.6% shooting percentage. His career line includes: 20.5ppg, 4.3rpg, and 3.7ast with a 45% field goal percentage. Ray has made 9 All-Star teams and has won one ring.
The stats show that this a player comparison is pretty much a wash. Ray has the edge in 3-point percentage and points per game. Miller has him in shooting percentage and 3-pointers made, at least for a few weeks. The advantage Ray has is that he is still playing, and doing so at a high level – he is enjoying his best season as a Celtic. Statistically, they are similar talents. However, if I had to say who is the better player then I would say Allen. He’s just a better overall talent.
But the real question is this: If you need a 3-pointer at the end of the game, do you draw up a play for Ray Allen or Reggie Miller? My initial reaction is to give the ball to Ray. Now am I biased because he plays for the Celtics? No. I’m biased because I don’t like Reggie Miller and I never really have. Something about the way he carried himself on the court always annoyed me, as did the way he kicked his legs out while shooting in an effort to get cheap calls.
That said, you can’t deny that Miller has hit some big shots in his career in even bigger games. He played in 144 playoff games, and shot 39% from three (Allen has played in 101 games, shooting 40.1%). Everyone remembers the 8 points in 8.9 seconds against the Knicks in the ‘95 playoffs. In Game 4 of the ‘98 Eastern Conference Finals he hit a three with .7 seconds left to beat Jordan’s Bulls 96-94. In 2001, Miller gave the eighth seeded Pacers a 1-0 series lead against Philadelphia in the first round when he hit a game-winning three with 2.9 seconds left. The next year Miller did all he could to stave off elimination against the top-seeded Nets in the first round. In Game 5 he hit a buzzer beating three from 35 feet to force overtime. His dunk with three seconds left in overtime also led to double overtime, where the Pacers eventually lost and were eliminated.
Allen’s résumé isn’t as extensive in regard to the playoffs. In 2009 he hit a game winning three to beat Chicago in Game 2 of the second round. He hit 8 threes in Game 2 against the Lakers in last years Finals. He’s also come through during regular season games. Celtics fans may remember winners in 2007 against the Raptors, the insane play against the Bobcats, and in 2009 against the 76ers and Charlotte again. And this is just with Boston.
So putting all these games up against each other proves what? Each has made big shots at various levels, be it in playoff games or regular season games. Miller was the man in Indiana his entire career and had to make those shots for his team to contend. Allen had similar situations in Milwaukee and Seattle, but now shares the load with Pierce and Garnett. The knock against Allen is that he hasn’t played in the same number of big games as Miller, and has even disappeared a little when given the opportunity (0-18 shooting against the Lakers in 2010’s Game 3, for example).
Like I said, my first reaction would be to say give the shot to Ray. But when you look at what Miller has done in big games, even on the road, you have to like you’re chances with him taking the last shot. I don’t enjoy choosing Miller, but from an objective standpoint I have to do it. It hurts, but I’ll take Ray for the first 47.5 minutes, then Reggie to close it out.
And who knows, even if he misses, he may stick a leg out and get the foul call.