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After years of tormenting Heat, Allen settling in with Miami

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Associated Press
9/29/2012 11:50:17 AM
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MIAMI -- Late Friday night, less than 12 hours before the first practice of Miami Heat training camp, reigning NBA MVP LeBron James updated his Facebook page with a new photo.

The image: A grinning Ray Allen in the foreground, James looking over his shoulder at him, the duo wearing Heat uniforms together for the first time.

"Need I Say More," James wrote.

No need.

When Allen decided to leave Boston and sign with Miami this summer, the Heat were downright giddy over the notion that the NBA's best team last season would now feature the best 3-point shooter in league history.

Since July, Allen and the Heat have been talking about ways to best integrate him into the lineup -- a process that shifts more to the practice floor now that camp is open.

"He strikes fear," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We know about that fear, because every time he found his way open behind the 3-point line, as a collective staff, we would say, 'Oh ... ' thinking the worst."

With good reason.

No one has made more 3-pointers against the Heat than Allen, and it's not even close in that department.

Over his five seasons in Boston, Allen connected 96 times against Miami from 3-point range -- 34 more than anyone else during that span. His 165 career makes from beyond the arc against Miami are 51 ahead of second-place Reggie Miller.

And in each of the past three seasons, including playoffs, no opponent made more 3's against the Heat than Allen (24 versus Miami in 2009-10, then 31 in 2010-11 and 22 in 2011-12).

"We're excited to have that dynamic with us this year," Spoelstra said. "We've had 3-point spacing. We've had tremendous 3-point shooters that can shoot on the move. We haven't really had a catch-and-shoot player with the ability and skill set like Ray. That adds a different dimension to our offence and it should be interesting."

Allen has been in Miami for the past several weeks, still getting settled into his new home, figuring out what his favourite lunch spots will be and quickly learning that there's more to the city than just South Beach.

The adjustment process isn't totally complete, but Allen feels like he's gotten a head start on settling into the Heat locker room.

"It was the best situation for me moving forward," Allen said of his decision to sign with the Heat. "There were other teams out there that had interest, but none from an overall perspective -- from a place to put my family to opportunity to win -- that I thought I matched potentially being here, which ultimately is why I ended up being here."

Allen was slowed last season by ankle problems, severe enough that he needed off-season surgery. The Heat weren't deterred by that when trying to sign him, and Allen -- whose last game as a Celtic was in Miami, the Game 7 loss in last season's Eastern Conference finals -- said his recovery is going well.

He's been shooting the ball at the Heat workout facility for several weeks, and Miami point guard Mario Chalmers is among those raving about what they've been seeing.

Suffice to say, those after-practice shooting contests the Heat enjoy partaking in might be a whole lot tougher to win this season.

"I feel pretty good," Allen said. "I have no complaints. I think at my age, being able to continue at the level, going through off-season having had surgery, it's a new landscape for me. Having to move down here, be in a new situation, learn a new staff, all that's been a great challenge. I've been looking forward to it. I'm enjoying it."

With age comes wisdom, Allen said, when it comes to managing injuries and his health. His first training camp in Boston five years ago also followed surgery, he said, and he was in pain throughout those workouts but largely kept the severity to himself. Now 37 years old, Allen knows that's probably not the best plan.

"Being older, you get more careful," Allen said.

With Dwyane Wade at the starting shooting guard spot in Miami, it seems more than likely that Allen would come off the bench with the Heat.

The Celtics said he didn't like that role last season, when he missed time with bone spurs with his ankle and lost his starting spot to Avery Bradley.

Allen, who accepted $3 million from the Heat this season and turned down more money to stay in Boston, insists he'll be fine coming off the bench in Miami if that's what the Heat ask.

"I wish he could have gone to the Clippers," his former Boston teammate Paul Pierce lamented Friday. "Instead, he went to our Eastern Conference rivals."

With Allen (2,718), another new free-agent addition in Rashard Lewis (1,690) and returnee Mike Miller (1,351), the Heat have three of the NBA's top 13 active players in 3-pointers made.

And maybe it's fitting that this season could be a three-for-all in Miami, given that the Heat made 14 3-pointers -- Miller went 7 for 8 to lead the charge -- in the title-clinching Game 5 romp over Oklahoma City to close the NBA Finals.

"He's here to help the Miami Heat win another championship," Chalmers said of Allen. "That's what he's here for."

LeBron James Ray Allen (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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