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Ray’s Crazy Efficient Game and the Importance of Foul Shots

 

Ray Allen scored 21 points on just 7 field-goal attempts Saturday night against the Bucks. This struck me as rare but not necessarily notable. 

Just for kicks, I decided to check how unusual it is for a player to score so many points on so few shot attempts. Please note: This is not an exhaustive analysis conducted in accordance with the scientific theory. It’s for fun—or what passes for fun in such ultra-nerdy circles as CelticsHub. 

And guess what? Ray Allen had never—not ever!—scored 20 or more points in game in which he took 7 or fewer shots, according to Basketball-Reference

In fact, only 8 times in Ray’s 14-year career has he scored 20 points in a game on 10 or fewer field-goalattempts. Interestingly (though perhaps not surprisingly), six of those 8 games have occurred his three seasons in Boston. That includes perhaps the most efficient game of his career—a blowout win over Charlotte on Dec. 1, 2009, in which Ray scored 27 points on just 9 shot attempts. Ray hit 5-of-6 from deep in that game and nailed all 10 of his foul shots. He was “just” 1-of-3 from two-point range, which keeps this game just below the all-time most efficient games for guards.

By clicking on this link, you can see every game since 1987 (the beginning of Basketball-Reference’s database) in which a guard has scored at least 20 points on 7 or fewer shots. There have been 63 such games in that span. 

Ray makes that list just once; Chauncey Billups, John Stockton, Reggie Miller and Sarunas Marciulionis lead the way with three appearances each. What’s striking is that of those guys, only Miller is a three-point gunner. The other three are fine shooters, but not guys known for taking 5 or 6 threes in a game. 

In fact, being a three-point gunner isn’t the key to making this list; it’s the ability to get heaps of foul shots. 

Think about this: Of those 63 games, 31 involved players who made zero or one three-pointers. That shocked me. I expected a ton of games in which players went 4-4 from three-point range. Nope. Only 16 games of the 63 on the list involved guys who hit 3 or more three-pointers. 

Free throws were far more critical. Players hit at least 10 foul shots in 30 of the 63 games and at least 8 in 47 of the 63 games. 

The most bizarre outlier is Queintin Richardson’s game this season against Portland, in which Q hit all 7 of his threes. 

The most efficient game of all-time (or at least post-1986)? Probably Chauncey Billups’ performance in 2006 against the Wiz, when Chauncey went off for 29 points (!), the highest point total on this list, on just 7 shot attempts. And Billups missed 3 of those shots! He managed 29 points by hitting 18-of-19 at the line. 

You might also like (or, as a C’s fan, not like) Muggsy Bogues’ performance for the Raptors against the C’s on March, 3, 2000. Muggsy hit went 6-of-6 from the floor (4-of-4 from deep) and 8-of-8 at the line to score 24 points. That’s a Laettner-against-Kentucky-esque performance. 

Most random name on the list: 

Khaild Reeves, only because he appears twice. There’s also Mike Iuzzolino, remembered fondly as one of the Mavericks included in the original NBA Jam game. 

Allen is the only player to pull this off as a Celtic. 

And that concludes this edition of Useless CelticsHub Trivia.

  • rav

    Check out Sarunas Marciulionis’ game:

    25 points in 21 minutes. 5-of-7 FG (2-of-4 3pt) and 13-of-15 FTs.

  • Perry

    @Zach

    My knee jerk reaction was why not more? With his range and FT percentage you would assume he would have had more of those nights. Then it dawned on me that Ray took more shots as a Buck and Supersonic. In those days he was the focal point of both offensive units.

    P. S.

    I proclaimed Atlanta losing to Milwaukee tonight would put the Celts back in the 3 spot. Actually it would leave them 1/2 game behind with two to play. Indeed it would enable the Celts control their own destiny for the 3 seed, which is what I meant to say.

  • http://www.celticshub.com Zach Lowe

    @Perry: Yup. Too many shots in SEattle for games like these above.

    I’ll have a post up shortly on playoff scenarios.

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  • Ray Leighton

    I don’t remember the details at all — even in terms of whether the shots were twos or threes — but I remember that Scotty Wedman had a game with the Celtics in the finals against the Lakers in the mid-80s when he went (I think) 11 for 11 from the field, and none of the shots were in the paint. I’d be curious to see how many points he actually scored.

  • http://www.celticshub.com Zach Lowe

    @Ray: I believe that’s the Memorial Day Massacre in ’85. Pretty sure Wedman hit a couple of threes.

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  • Zerb

    Mike Iuzzolino from??? Altoona PA! Nice to see a hometown guy referenced in Celtic land!

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  • Dan

    @Zach. I think the only conclusion to be drawn from this is that Points per FGA is a meaningless statistic. The only time I would even look at this ratio is for example with a player like Monta Ellis who just chucks the ball up a ton.

    A statistic much more highly correlated with being an effective offensive player is True Shooting %. And of course Ray’s TS% for that game – 1.11, or almost double that of MVP-caliber players like Nash and Dwight Howard – was off the charts good.

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