Celtics done in by too many missed jumpers vs. Spurs


Celtics done in by too many missed jumpers vs. Spurs

SAN ANTONIO Throughout most of Saturday's loss at San Antonio, Doc Rivers was fuming about what he saw as a lack of consistency in the calls on the floor.

Rivers' hunch was based in large part on the fact that the Spurs went to the free throw line 20 times compared to just eight trips for a Celtics team that averages 22.1 free throw attempts per game which ranks 18th in the league.

But the way the game was called should serve as a cautionary tale for teams like Boston that live by the jump-shot.

Finding a better balance between exploiting what is a clear strength - shooting jumpers - while exploring other ways to score going to the basket will be among the challenges Boston will have in Tuesday's game at Chicago.

Boston (12-11), riding a two-game losing streak now, has proven to be one of the league's better shooting teams when it comes to mid-range shots.

According to NBA.comstats, Boston is the connecting on a league-best 46.1 percent of their mid-range shots. Meanwhile the Bulls are shooting 42 percent on corner 3s which ranks seventh in the league.

While some might question the C's shot selection in Saturday's 101-88 loss to the Spurs as being too dependent on scoring from the perimeter, Celtics guard Jason Terry liked the looks for the most part the C's were getting.

"The shots we got were great," said Terry who had 18 points off the bench. "You can't turn those down. I know all of us want to say, 'Don't shoot jump shots. Get to the basket.' But a lot of them were wide open."

In the first half, he was right.

That is why Boston took 23 shots of at least 15 feet in the first half, and nailed 12 of them. In the second half, San Antonio's defense limited Boston to just 17 shot attempts of 15 feet or more with the C's hitting just four.

"We switched more (defensively in the second half)," explained Spurs guard Tony Parker who had a game-high 22 points to go with eight assists. "We just tried to play better defense. It sounds basic but that's what we did."

And the Spurs ability to pull away in the second half was also in part because of their ability to find a better balance between knocking down long-range shots while still getting points going to the basket or from the free throw line.

In the first half, San Antonio was 7-for-20 shooting on field goal attempts of 15 feet or further away. In the second half, they were 7-for-15.

And remember, both teams shot an identical 38-for-81 from the field.

While the Celtics have made progress in some areas since the start of the season, they still struggle to generate points around the paint other than Kevin Garnett post-ups and Rajon Rondo drives into the lane.

Paul Pierce still attacks the rim from time to time, but the 35-year-old is transitioning into being more of a perimeter shooter who doesn't generate as many points as he has in the past on isolation plays.

There's a growing concern among some Celtics players that they're having too many nights where the offense is dictating the play of the defense - a recipe for failure both in the short and long-term.

"If the shots don't fall, we have to have a defensive consistency," Pierce said. "We should be able to score between 90-96 points and still try to find a way to win the game with our defense."

Boston has to do what other teams are doing to them - make adjustments.

And one of the first needs to be to figure out other ways to generate points besides jumpers which as we've seen thus far this season, is an up and down affair - just like the Celtics record.