May 24, 2018
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Heat newcomer Ray Allen still has drive to win — but is still adjusting to S. Florida traffic

By George Richards, The Miami Herald

MIAMI — Ray Allen has not been a South Florida resident very long.

Yet he has already been stung by traffic snarls that seem to pop up for no reason,

Allen, who signed with the Heat in July, was asked the toughest thing to get used to in Miami. Allen said everything has been cool since leaving the Celtics — although getting to and from his new home in Coral Gables can be frustrating a lot of the time.

“The transition has been pretty smooth, but my commute, just figuring out which (route) to go is the biggest thing,” the newest high-profile member of the Heat said a few weeks into his first training camp.

“U.S. 1 is the worst. There seems to be traffic when there shouldn’t be traffic. I’m trying to figure out why there is traffic. I was stuck for 30 minutes once because one car was pulled over. Just left there in the middle of the road. It was backed up all the way to I-95. It seems ridiculous.”

Allen might never get acclimated to the annoyances of driving U.S. 1. But Allen, 37, is fitting right in with the Heat.

After five mostly successful seasons with the Celtics, Allen has joined another traveling road show in the Heat. And joining a star-studded team is nothing new to him.

Allen was already a seven-time All-Star when Seattle traded him to Boston in 2007. There, Allen joined Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to become the NBA’s true super team. The trio, one with many nicknames including the Big 3, won the NBA title — Boston’s first since 1986 — in their first year together.

The Celtics didn’t win another title despite coming close a few times. Boston lost to the hated Lakers in the 2010 Finals and then ran into LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Heat the past two seasons.

Miami disposed of the Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals en route to the NBA Finals in 2011.

Last season, Boston was on the verge of knocking the Heat out of the title chase before James went off by scoring 45 points with 15 rebounds and five assists in Game 6 — leading Miami to a 98-79 victory at the TD Garden. Miami then came home and finished things off 101-88.

While the Celtics were knocked out, the Heat went on to capture the title. Not long afterward, Allen and the Celtics divorced, and he packed his bags and moved to the sunshine.

Allen said he didn’t leave Boston because he was coming off the bench but because he didn’t feel respected by the Celtics. He was offered more money to stay in Boston, yet left to become the first guy off the bench in Miami.

Miami’s lineup is set, although Allen — who took Miami’s midlevel exception and signed a three-year deal with the Heat in July — is expected to find good minutes at the end of games and be a go-to guy. A potent three-point shooter, Allen made a good shooting team even better by leaving the Celtics and joining their enemy down south.

Allen, entering his 17th season, is the NBA’s all-timer leader in three-point shots made and attempted.

“We’re going to continue to get better (chemistry) each and every day,” James said. “I watch a lot of film not only of myself but of teammates of mine. I want to know where they like the ball, what kind of rhythm they are in. Ray is unique. It doesn’t matter where he is on the floor, he feels comfortable. And I feel comfortable delivering him the ball on any spot on the floor.”

Allen is also one of the hardest-working players in the game and has not missed much time to injury in the latter stages of his career.

In five of the past six seasons, Allen has played in at least 73 games. In the lockout-shortened 2011-2012 season, Allen played in 46 of Boston’s 66 regular-season games as he was bothered by an injured ankle that required offseason surgery.

Wade was asked about how he will approach the game when he gets to Allen’s age. Wade, who turned 30 and is modifying his game as he ages, just shook his head.

Allen, it appears, is not only fitting in with the Heat but impressing his teammates along the way.

“That’s just amazing. I don’t even know if I want to be doing that at his age,” Wade said. “You want to be as healthy as he is. He’s been pretty healthy aside from a few surgeries over his career. Knock on wood. Some guys you say are blessed, others you say are lucky. He has a combination of both.”

After all those seasons in Boston, where not much seemed to change, Allen is accepting his new surroundings as a challenge. He has a new coach, new teammates — and, yes — a new commute.

He seems to dig it all. Save for the crummy traffic.

“I’ve been through training camp where things have been monotonous at times,” Allen said. “Here, that is not the case. I’m in a new situation and am posed with a number of different challenges. That forces me not to be comfortable; I have to work on and off the court. It does make you better, in a sense, because you have to pay attention to the little things.”

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