BOSTON -- Ray Allen entered the playoffs having missed just nine free throws in 106 attempts during the regular season, shooting an impressive 91.5 percent.
When he missed two free throws in his Game 3 return from an ankle injury, eyebrows were raised.
When he missed another two in Game 5, heads were scratched.
And when he shot four-for-six from the line in a deciding Game 6, it became clear there were lingering effects from the injury that previously sidelined him for 11 straight games.
I missed two free throws the last couple games and that to me is what my ultimate sign of comfort is, Allen said prior to Game 6 on Thursday. When I get to the free-throw line, your body settles in. Getting back to my ultimate comfortability is when I get to the free-throw line and youre kind of like a machine, so thats still what Im trying to go back to.
For Allen, making free throws is just as much about rhythm as it is about the release. Being sidelined prevented him from establishing the rhythm he thrives off of on the court.
Allen said his ankle was swollen on Wednesday and he was walking on it a little funny. After playing over 26 minutes in the Celtics' Game 6 win (7 points, 1-for-7 3PG, 4-for-6 FT, 5 rebounds), he said his ankle was bothering him more so than in previous games during the series.
I didnt have the confidence on it. he said. Right now its bothering me but I have a day tomorrow to deal with it.
The Celtics have one day to prepare for Game 1 against the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday. That doesnt leave Allen with a significant break to rest his ankle, but he is looking to push through the challenges as he did in the first round.
My rhythm is still a little suspect but Im still working on it, he said. Im still working on it. Every day is a new day and I always love the challenge.