Stevens urges Celtics to take the 'right shot'

Stevens urges Celtics to take the 'right shot'
March 22, 2014, 3:45 pm
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(USA Today Sports Images)

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The trend not only in Boston but throughout the NBA, is to have at least one or two bigs that can shoot the ball from 3-point range.

Oh, the Celtics have bigs that can shoot the 3-ball.

Making them?

That's another story.

Boston's best 3-point shooting big men are Jared Sullinger and rookie Kelly Olynyk.

However, both are shooting below the team average from 3-point range (32.9 percent).

That is indeed a cringe-worthy reality of this team when you consider the Celtics' 3-point shooting percentage ranks among the NBA's worst.

They're not dead last; but next to the team that's next-to-dead last (or 28th out of 30 teams).

But you won't see or hear head coach Brad Stevens trying to reign them in from shooting 3s.

When it comes to bigs like Olynyk or Sullinger shooting 3s - or any player for that matter - Stevens has one rule.

"Take the right shot in that possession," Stevens said. "Take what's the best opportunity in that possession."

This point is applicable to a number of Boston players, but no one more than Sullinger who has taken more 3s (170) than every Celtic except for Jeff Green (328) this season.

Despite the high volume of 3s taken, Sullinger has only made 24.1 percent of them. He has been even worst in the month of March, shooting just 18.8 percent from the field on 3s.

Olynyk hasn't shot the 3-ball well this season (32.2 percent), but he has shown progress this month by connecting on 42.1 percent of them.

"I'm just trying to basically take what the defense gives me," Olynyk said. "If they give me open shots, I have to take them."

Although there are some who believe Sullinger needs to spend more time playing around the rim, he remains confident that balancing his perimeter-shooting with being an inside presence, is what's best for both him and the Celtics.

"I'm trying to stay positive and help this team win," Sullinger said recently.

And his desire to be an inside-outside scorer is strongly supported by his head coach who said the two had a recent discussion about the matter.

"The bottom line is you need to play confidently and shoot confidently," Stevens recalled telling Sullinger.

 And while the numbers suggest that Sullinger might need to curtail his long-range shooting agenda, that's just not going to happen.

"I'm taking shots that I know I can knock down," Sullinger said. "I just have to keep shooting, get into a little rhythm and go from there."

And during their recent conversation, Stevens made a point of reinforcing that message.

"I know you can shoot it better than your percentages," Stevens recalled telling Sullinger. "And I hope that you continue to shoot the ball confidently."