Celtics shot selection changed under Stevens

Celtics shot selection changed under Stevens
December 11, 2013, 3:45 pm
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BOSTON — When the Celtics traded away Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett this past summer, a change in shot distribution was expected.

Losing coach Doc Rivers, who is now coaching the Los Angeles Clippers after Boston was given a first-round pick to let him out of his contract, sealed the deal.

Now that more than a quarter of the season is in the books, the differences in the types of shots taken by the Celtics last season under Rivers and the team now being led by first-year coach Brad Stevens are much clearer.

It's about real estate on the floor, and how each coach parcels that off in order to generate offense.

Under Stevens, there's a greater premium placed on generating points from three-point range and inside the paint, than there was under Rivers.

Last season, the Celtics took 45.8 percent of their shots inside the paint. That number is up to 47.4 this season.

Three-point shooting represented 21.3 percent of the team's shot attempts under Rivers last season. The three-ball accounts for 22.7 percent of the shots taken by the Stevens-led Celtics.

"Coach (Stevens) tells us if you're open and it's your shot, take it," said Boston's Jared Sullinger.

The most significant change percentage-wise on shot attempts involves mid-range jumpers, down to 29.9 percent from 33 percent last season.

More than anything, this represents the Celtics figuring out how to try and play to their strengths while limiting as much as they can, their weaknesses.

And while Boston has shooters at every position, the Celtics collectively aren't as good a mid-range shooting team as they were a year ago.

Last season, they shot 43.8 percent on mid-range shots. This year, that number is down to 39.8 percent.

Meanwhile, the Celtics have relied on the 3-point shot as a weapon this year in part because, from certain spots, they are exceptional.

As a team, Boston is shooting 45.5 percent on corner threes which ranks fifth in the NBA.

And when it comes to points in the paint (but outside the restricted area), Boston is shooting 42.3 percent which is the sixth-highest shooting percentage in the NBA.

It feeds rather smoothly into the inside-out narrative that players often use to describe what they're trying to do on the floor offensively.

"Coach (Stevens) demands that we play inside-out," Brandon Bass told CSNNE.com. "I just think that's big for us."