If Ray Allen is in a slump, his teammates are not doing much to help him out of it. Allen's offense, perhaps more than that of any other player in the league, is predicated on Boston's four other players slowing down his defender in order to create open looks.
And as coach Doc Rivers noted after Sunday's loss, the Celtics are an atrocious pick-setting team right now.
"We've got to do a better job [of getting Allen shots]," Rivers said. "I have to do a better job. He has to do a better job of being patient and we've got to set picks. I think our pick-setting is horrendous right now. We have one pick-setter on the team and that's Kevin [Garnett]."
Allen finished with 13 points on 4-of-9 shooting Sunday. After attempting only two first-half shots, he came out cold after intermission and missed all three shots he put up in the third quarter. The Celtics are doing little to get him open and even less to get him going.
Consider this: Allen is averaging a mere 9.1 shots per game over his last 10 contests, never launching more than 11 shots in that span. This from a player who has averaged 15.7 shots per game during his career, including roughly 12.2 shots per game both this season and last.
What's more, according to Synergy Sports, Allen ranks second in the NBA in field goals attempted off of screens (350 field goal attempts) and on those plays is tops among qualifiers (more than 200 plays) in both field goal percentage (45.4 percent) and points per play (1.04). Allen also ranks among the top four players in the league averaging 4.4 shots off screens per game.
It's worth noting that Allen is averaging only 2.2 attempts off screens per game over his last five games. And since the Kendrick Perkins trade, he's down from 4.7 attempts per game to 3.6. Perkins was one of the team's top pick-setters.
Allen doesn't need much space. He proved that in the first quarter when he caught a pass from Paul Pierce while moving toward the right corner and splashed a 3-pointer with his man chasing to put Boston out front 11-2, forcing Miami to call timeout with 9:15 to play.
As Boston's offense sputtered, Allen didn't get his next shot -- an 11-foot jumper -- until there was 3:48 to play in the first half.
Allen played 20:25 in the first half with only two jumpers. That's inexcusable, especially for a player who has thrived against the Heat this season, averaging 22.7 points and 4.7 3-pointers made per game against Miami -- both his best marks against any team in the league.
Asked if there was any groundswell around the bench about getting Allen more involved in the offense during the second half, Allen replied simply, "No, that wasn't said tonight."
Allen put the onus on himself to fight through this.
"You just kind of stay patient," Allen said. "You just try to keep your head down and try to make plays when the ball does come. If it comes, then you've got to be ready, and if it doesn't, then you've got to try and do other things to help the team get better."
But the stats tell the story: The Celtics are 35-10 (.778 winning percentage) when Ray Allen scores 15 points or more. In all but two of those games he's attempted at least 10 shots.
--DOC: ARROYO WILL COME THROUGH FOR US--
Asked before Sunday's game what Miami castoff Carlos Arroyo has been able to provide, Rivers couldn't resist a witty one-liner.
"Tonight, Carlos is huge, he gave us the entire Miami scouting report," quipped Rivers.
"[Arroyo] going to help us," said Rivers. "I don't know what game, but there will be a game in the playoffs where Carlos will come through for us. He works every day in the practice, but I'll tell you what I've been most impressed with is him on the bench. He's very good; into every single game. And I didn't know that about him."
Arroyo has played sparingly when both Rajon Rondo and Delonte West have been healthy. After starting 42 games in 49 appearances for Miami, he was sent packing and replaced by Mike Bibby off the buyout scrapheap. In Boston, Arroyo has appeared in 12 games, averaging a mere 1.9 points and 1.5 assists over 10.7 minutes per game.
A media member from Puerto Rico who originally asked about Arroyo then asked Rivers about his daughter, Callie, who is now playing volleyball professionally there.
"I go online and watch all their stats, she's the leading scorer in the league right now," beamed Rivers.
When the reporter suggested she's an MVP candidate, Rivers' face lit up even more.
"Oh, MVP candidate?! I didn't know they had the MVP," he said before looking into the camera. "Please vote for Callie Rivers for MVP. I didn't know, but that makes me feel great. I can tell you this: She loves it and she's having a blast over there."
--LAYUP LINE: KG FOR THREE; JERMAINE'S MINUTES--
* Kevin Garnett produced a rare feat in the first quarter of Sunday's game, hitting only his third 3-pointer in a Celtics uniform. With a low shot clock on a broken play, Garnett stepped up from the left wing and drilled his first triple since Feb. 19, 2010. Garnett is a mere 3-for-29 shooting on 3-pointers since arriving in Boston.
Garnett, who takes a lot of 3-pointers during practice, actually attempted a career high 116 trifectas during the 2001-02 season, but has ramped them down in his latter years, even as the majority of his shots move further from the basket.
* True to his word, Celtics coach Doc Rivers changed up his substitution pattern with Jermaine O'Neal. After playing the first five minutes of Sunday's game, Rivers brought him back with roughly eight minutes to go in the second quarter. That's nearly 5½ minutes earlier than he had brought him back against Chicago on Thursday.
Rivers still needs some tinkering with that plan. O'Neal finished with no points, missing both shots he took, and didn't grab a single rebound over 14 minutes. He did commit four fouls, including a flagrant-1 that ignited a little scrum for a hard foul on LeBron James.
"You're not trying to hurt anybody, but sometimes you have to be physical," said O'Neal.