Allen still up to his old tricks in Heat uniform

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Allen still up to his old tricks in Heat uniform

MIAMI As much as Tuesday night's Boston-Miami game was about the Heat getting their championship bling for what they accomplished last season, it was just as much a coming out party of sorts for former Celtic Ray Allen with his new team.

Allen didn't disappoint his new fans in helping Miami kick off the new season with a 120-107 victory over the Celtics.

In a role similar to the one he had near the end of the season in Boston - coming off the bench - Allen had 19 points on Tuesday which included a handful of shot clock buzzer-beaters - a Ray Allen staple.

While the Heat certainly love what Ray can do as a player, the focus for many was on how Allen would interact with his former team; specifically Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo.

When Allen entered the game in the first quarter, Ray Allen made his way towards the Celtics bench - his first interaction with his former team since signing with the Miami Heat.

After a brief embrace with Doc Rivers and the C's assistant coaches, Allen tapped Garnett's shoulder - he was on the bench resting at that point - to which Garnett did not reply or even acknowledge the contact.

"You guys know KG. Did you expect him to react?" Allen told a large crowd after the game that included Boston-area media. "I don't take anything from it. Kevin is, he's an intense competitor. On the bench, he's in a different world, a different zone. The five years I played with him, you have to respect that."

Said Garnett: "Understand I am an intense person. Other than that, I drew a blank. I just saw the Heat (jersey) in front of him. Obviously he's on the other side. I just try to play the game, man."

And apparently so does Allen, who hurt the C's with many of the same big shots that he helped them win with during the past five seasons.

His first shot, as if it was part of a Hollywood script, was a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the corner.

Allen would go on to hit a couple more buzzer-beaters for good measure.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was not only impressed with Allen's play, but even more so the poise he displayed in what was clearly an uncomfortable position to be in at the start of the season.

"I'm sure it had to be very emotional for him in terms of a lot of things that he was feeling," Spoelstra said. "We wanted to win this game for a lot of different reasons. We wanted to do it because it was ceremony night, but we talked about it, when we acquire new players they inherit everything that we've experienced, but we inherit also whatever they've experienced and we wanted to win for our brother."

But as much as Allen is at peace with his decision to be part of the Heat family, he at times found himself forgetting that he's no longer a Celtic.

"It was very strange," Allen said. "A couple times I would see somebody running down the floor, and I had to ask myself, 'who was I guarding? Which team was I guarding?' Because I'm looking at both jerseys and my inclination was to guard the Miami jersey but I caught myself."

Well, he caught himself most of the game.

"I think one time I gave Brandon Bass dap one time he was running down the floor. I had to catch myself," Allen said. "My brain right now has to be switched over."

Rivers was among the many Celtics to praise Allen for a solid performance.

"Ray was terrific," Rivers said. "He went (to his) right all game and we allowed him to, but he made a lot of shots."

Said Bass: "It was good seeing Ray. Ray Allen was a great player here (in Boston) and a great guy in the locker room.

That said, Bass added, "we wanted to beat him, but it didn't happen."

Rivers was surprised Allen was open from the corner the first time he checked into the game, of which Allen made them pay.
 
"You would think we would know better," Rivers said.

Allen knocking down shots is not a surprise.

That's kind of what you come to expect from a player who has made more three-pointers than anyone in NBA history, and has established himself as a virtual lock for the NBA Hall of Fame if Father Time ever catches up to him.

The unknown heading into the game had to deal with Allen's interactions with his old teammates.

"Regardless of how they feel, I have nothing but great things, warm sentiments going in their direction," Allen said. "You could be angry at me, but that's not going to change how I feel about you."

Miller 'blessed for the opportunity' to remain with Bruins

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Miller 'blessed for the opportunity' to remain with Bruins

To the surprise of pretty much nobody, Kevan Miller was ecstatic with the four year, $10 million contract extension handed to him by the Boston Bruins on Tuesday afternoon. The 28-year-old is a hard-hitting, big and strong defenseman in the Bruins mold, and has proven he can be a bottom-pairing defenseman in the NHL over the last three seasons of steady improvement.

So Miller was happy to keep things going with the Bruins and spend his prime years playing for the only NHL organization he’s known since signing as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Vermont.

“I’d like to start off by saying thank you to the Jacobs family, Cam Neely, Don Sweeney, and the rest of the Bruins organization. I’m truly blessed for this opportunity and I’m very thankful. I’d like to also say thank you to my family, my friends – they’ve all helped me get to this point,” said Miller, who would have been an unrestricted free agent on July 1. “Boston is a great city to play in, and we have the best fans in the NHL. I’m very thankful to them as well.

“I love playing here; it’s an honor to put that jersey on before every game. I feel my style of play fits in well here. I’m really looking forward to helping this [Bruins] team get back into the playoffs and reach our ultimate goal, and win a Stanley Cup.”

On the plus side of the ledger, Miller skated in a career-high 71 games last season and established career highs in goals (five), assists (13), points (18) and penalty minutes (53) while posting the second-best plus/minus rating on the team with a plus-15. Miller topped 19 minutes of ice time per game and played top pairing D-man minutes with Zdeno Chara for much of the season without another viable candidate able to step up into that spot.

On the minus side, Miller has had shoulder problems and concussion issues in his recent past while missing healthy portions of time in just about every season of his pro hockey career. He will be overpaid at $2.5 million per season if he turns into nothing more than a 5-6 defenseman for the Bruins, and it’s hard to imagine Miller ever truly flourishing as a top-4 defenseman given the body of work over the last two seasons.

Nevertheless, Miller hopes to keep improving at an NHL age (28) where you are pretty much a finished product on the ice.

“Everyone’s always trying to improve their game. As you can see, the NHL is changing every year, whether it gets faster here or there. But the game changes a lot and you have to be able to go along with that, and change your game in different ways,” said Miller. “I’m going to stay true to how I play, but I think there are areas where I can improve on, that I will improve on. I’m looking forward to it.”

Given the relatively rich contract that Miller will enjoy over the next four seasons, the Bruins are banking on the 6-foot-2, 210-pound defenseman improving as he goes in Boston as well.