C's Settled for J's but Won't Change Ways

WALTHAM, Mass. – Being a jump shooting basketball team is like walking a tight rope. If you lose the skill you rely on most, you’ll wind up falling quickly to the ground.

The Boston Celtics were a clear example of that notion Wednesday night during their 90-78 loss to the New Orleans Hornets. They relied heavily on their jump shooting abilities but could not put the ball through the basket with regularity.

Shot Distribution Chart

The Celtics attempted only 27 percent of Wednesday’s shots in the restricted area.
NBA.com/Stats

As shown in the image to the right, the Celtics attempted only 27 percent of Wednesday’s shots in what the NBA’s advanced stats tool calls the “restricted area.” Only 35 percent of the team’s overall shots were taken in the paint.

Those numbers tell us that the Celtics settled for jumpers even more so last night than they do on average. Including last night, they have attempted 43.5 percent of their shots in the paint so far this season.

You’d think that the C’s would head into Thursday’s practice regretting the fact that they settled for jumpers, but that was not the case. Rajon Rondo runs the show on offense and he stated that he was very comfortable with the shots his team attempted.

“When you get the looks that we got yesterday, you’ll take them all day long,” said Rondo, who later referenced the fact that reliable shooters such as Jason Terry and Brandon Bass were consistently off the mark.

Rondo continued to give reasons why no one should fret about last night’s shooting display. The Celtics have been title contenders for five-plus seasons, and as the point guard noted, they’ve been firing up plenty of J’s throughout that run.

“We’re a jump shooting team. We always have been in the past,” said Rondo. “There’s certain nights when we don’t make shots.”

According to Rondo, one of those nights was last night.

“We missed a lot of shots that we usually make,” he said.

The All-Star point guard isn’t trying to blow smoke out from underneath you, either. He’s right on target with those statements.

The Celtics shot just 30.3 percent on deep mid-range shots and 3-pointers last night. Prior to last night’s game, Boston had made 41.3 percent those attempts on the season. In other words, the Celtics missed many of the shots that they typically make.

Boston is rightfully considering last night’s game as an aberration. Even Doc Rivers is defending his team’s shooting abilities.

Asked if it’s dangerous for his team to rely on jump shooting, Rivers responded, “Well you should rely on it.” He did, however, give a caveat to that statement moments earlier.

“There’s nothing wrong with taking jump shots if you’re making them,” he clarified.

Boston’s problem Wednesday night wasn’t necessarily that it was taking jump shots. The issue was more the fact that they weren’t making them. It was a dreadful night in which the team settled for more jumpers than normal and made less of those jumpers than normal. As one might imagine, that combination resulted in a loss.

The Celtics walked the tight rope Wednesday night and fell quickly to the ground. Luckily for them, Thursday was waiting there to catch them.

Thursday was a practice day, a time for Boston to refine its jump shooting skills.

Friday is a game day, which will be another opportunity for them to hop back on the tight rope and show everyone how skillful they really are.