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Keep Shooting, Rafer!

 

The traditionalist criticism of the Orlando Magic is that they take too many three-pointers, and those traditionalists (I am not one, for the record) are crowing now that the Magic are shooting 32 percent (37-of-115) from three-point range in this series. Fun fact: That breaks down to 23 attempts per game, meaning Orlando is actually attempting three fewer bombs per game than their season average (26). 

Still, that 32 percent accuracy would have placed Orlando 29th in the league this season, ahead of only the 76ers. (Boston led the league in three-point shooting percentage, at 39.7). 

But if just five more of those threes go in, the Magic are up to 36.5 percent, almost exactly league average. The point is that a few made threes make a big difference. 

With that in mind, let’s see how the Magic are distributing their three-point attempts in this series and compare that distribution to the regular season. 

                            % of team 3PAs, vs. Boston                               % of team 3PAs, regular season *

Alston**                                 18.5                                                                       13                             

Lewis                                     22.6                                                                       27

Redick                                   18.2                                                                       10.7

Turkoglu                               16.5                                                                       18.8

Pietrus                                  17.3                                                                        16

* Estimated based on Orlando’s average number of 3PAs multiplied by the number of games each player played.

**Alston was suspended for Game 3, so this percentage takes into account only four games. 

Lewis, who made about 40 percent of his three-point attempts this season, is actually taking a smaller share of the team’s threes and fewer overall (about five attempts per game in this series versus seven in the regular season). 

And where are those three-point attempts going? Right to Rafer Alston, a career 35 percent shooter from deep who’s making threes at an even lower rate (33.8 percent) this season. (He’s 3-of-18 from deep in this series so far).

The Magic are gaining some of that accuracy back by giving a larger chunk to Redick, who’s 8-of-21 (38 percent) so far in this series. Just not enough to make up for Alston’s poor shooting.

It’s a small sample size, but you can bet the Celtics are tracking this stuff. 

For what it’s worth, Jameer Nelson was hitting 45 percent from three-point range this year.

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