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Ray’s Shooting: Trending the Right Way

 

The Celtics are going to need to play their best basketball of the season to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers four times in seven games, including at least once in Cleveland. Everyone is going to have to contribute, especially on offense, where the C’s were mediocre all season. 

And the C’s offense will have to function even as its best pure scorer, Paul Pierce, depletes his energy on the other end, where he will defend LeBron James for much of every game. If you don’t think guarding the best player alive on defense will impact Pierce’s offense, ask Phil Jackson whey he waited until Game 5 of the Thunder-Lakers series to stick Kobe Bryant on Russell Westbrook. Or ask Adrian Dantley whey he waited until Denver was facing elimination to try Chauncey Billups on Deron Williams. 

The odds say Paul Pierce is going to have one or two bad (by his standards) offensive games in this series. When that happens, the team’s other players must produce and it’s other weapons—especially the three-point shot—must function. 

Luckily, the team’s best three-point shooter is once again shooting the ball the way he has for most of his career.

Here is a breakdown of Ray Allen’s three-point shooting numbers:

Career: 2,444-6,196 (39.6 percent)

First 41 games, 2009-10: 66-188 (35.1 percent)

Last 41 games, plus playoffs, 2009-10: 98-247 (39.7 percent)

So for the last 46 games, Ray Allen has shot the three ball like….Ray Allen. Now, 46 games isn’t a huge sample size, but it also isn’t some little 10-game hot streak you could easily toss aside and attribute to random chance. We’ve got more than 1,000 games that say Ray Allen is an elite three-point shooter and 41 that say he might be turning into an average three-point shooter in the twilight of his career. 

I’ll put my faith in the 1,000 or so games. 

And against Miami? Ray was on fire—19-of-36 (53 percent), and that’s despite tossing up an 0-of-4 from deep in Game 1.

After that, Ray knocked down 19 threes in four games. That represents the most three-pointers Ray Allen hit in any four-game stretch this season.

His previous high for makes over a four-game stretch this year? That’d be 13, which he did a couple of times, according to his game log

The Celtics are the underdog against Cleveland. Certain things will have to go right during most of this series for the underdog to win. I’m convinced that winning the three-point shooting battle—or at least playing it to a draw—is absolutely essential for Boston to win this series. And on offense, that starts with Ray Allen, the guys setting screens for him and the point guard in charge of getting him the ball in the right spots.

  • Jason

    Now Cleveland knows if they shut down Ray, they’ll win easily. Everyone blame Zach if now the Cs lose. Thanks Zach.

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

    Mike Brown is a regular reader of CelticsHub

  • http://n/a Ian

    Why do the celtics play cleveland even if the bucks win their series? It would appear that the lower seed would play the Number 1, which is cleveland vs bucks and celts would play orlando….why is it not this way?

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

    Because the rules are not written that way. the NBA does not re-seed.

  • Perry

    Oh how true. Ray’s offense will be crucial. Thank god the trajectory of his numbers are up because that wasn’t the case two years ago. Nevermind the offense, I was so impressed with his straight up defense on Wade, and now that the chains are off he should be able to continue his torrid pace.

    Matching Lebron’s game to game numbers are akin to dealing with Wade, so collectively the Celts will need to be as efficient as possible, and I think we have four guys (Ray/Pierce/Rondo/Kevin) who meet that objective.

    The problem I see is two fold. Turnovers are a bugaboo, and Celts are not a good offensive rebounding team when those three balls are clanking and drawing the back iron. If they go into one of their long scoring droughts they’re more likely to be chasing the scoreboard. Not a good formula for success.

    Doc is going to have to find a way to protect and preserve Pierce’s offensive rhythm. Quite frankly if he can’t maintain productive offensive numbers it could be a short series. But Doc has options to spell Pierce. Don’t discount Finley’s importance in this equation. He could be part of a smaller line up since either TA or Quis will have to draw the assignment of guarding JBL for at least 10-15 minutes a game. Finley gives them one more shooter on the floor. Can he stay with Jameison or Moon? I think he can — especially when he’s in the offensive flow.

  • DeVelaine

    @Zach: I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic, or if you’ve actually found evidence that he does read this site. If he does, great, and why won’t Doc or anyone from the C’s read it? Or at least let us know that they have been.

  • I love Green

    Dear God I hope Ian was just kidding with that post.

  • I love Green

    @Dev-He was kidding, come on now.

  • Jason

    Fear the Deer. Yeah Bucks. Ha ha. If only the Bulls could have pulled it out in that 2 point loss the other night.

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  • DRJ1

    I know for a fact that Mike Brown does not read CelticHub. His stupidity would have diminished by now if that were true… therefore it can’t be true.

    You say the Cs are underdogs. Seems to me that’s conventional wisdom, not fact. I think we match up well with the Cavs… and the Celtics are better coached, and generally smarter, which should count for something.

    What we can say for sure is that Saturday is the beginning of the toughest two series these Cs have ever faced. I see no clear way to predict any of the outcomes.

  • RBD

    How to win the series:

    -Close out on three-point shooters.
    -Get Ray open looks.
    -Neutralize Varejao.
    -Don’t completely burn Paul out trying to guard LBJ.

  • Ray Leighton

    Ray — and Rajon — really are going to be critical for us offensively. While there is no question that Paul is going to have his hands full against Lebron (and I am definitely in favor of a few extra minutes for TA to harass Lebron and give Paul some rest, maybe play smallball as I suggested in an earlier post — make Varejao defend Pierce in some lineups), and that the Celtics will absolutely have to play their help-defense and defensive rotations really well to win, we also need to note that just as Cleveland has an advantage with Lebron, we also have an advantage with our backcourt. Cleveland does not have a defensive answer to either of our starting guards. We need to run lots of plays for Ray, and Rajon needs to be aggressive and attack the Cleveland defense, break them down, and create opportunities for everyone else. There is no way Mo Williams keeps up with Rajon if Rajon turns on the afterburners. At the AllStar game, Rajon picked up a new nickname, which I think is appropriate — “The Blur”. We need to see that speed and energy from Rondo on both offense and defense.

  • Jack Sprat

    Sheldon, Marquis, Robinson – do any of these guys get real minutes against Cleveland?

  • Perry

    Is anyone surprised the entire ESPN smart set are picking Cleveland?

    http://forums.celticsblog.com/index.php?action=printpage;topic=37122.0

    Remember, the media’s conventional wisdom is always wrong.

  • Perry

    @Ray

    TA doesn’t have the size, strength or length. The better option is Quis. In fact I see them on floor together paired with two perimeter guys.

    Brown has a tendency to use Varejao at the 5 after Shaq. Doc can counter by using Davis and could go small with Rondo steering the ship. I don’t see Rondo playing less than 40 minutes a night. You’re right about the back court — it’s a clear advantage for us.

  • Perry

    @DRJ

    Do we want Mike Brown reading CelticsHub? Might make him a better coach…I think

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  • DRJ1

    @perry– you think Mike might read this?? woah……ok then… SAY, Hope they don’t keep Shaq in for like 40 minutes; he’s their best secret weapon against us! And I sure hope Brown isn’t smart enough to sit Bron for the first 2 games…. they’re gonna win those home games anyway, and LBJ needs down time to heal that elbow, for sure!

  • Jay P

    The C’s are underdogs, they have to be. Pure numbers alone say Cleveland is far and alone the best team in basketball, anyone playing them is an underdog. Except maybe LA, and then only because their defending champs, I’d argue even they are still underdogs.

    Cleveland was just better, all year long. No question about it. But they were last year too, and we all saw how that ended up.

    Other than Shaq though, there’s noone on that team with real Championship pedigree. And I’d agree that we do match up really well with Cleveland, especially if Shaq is on the floor.

    Lineups not involving Big Diesel scare me a lot more in fact. But Boston has also shown an ability to run when they go small (KG/BBD) so there are definitely some options there, as Rondo is in a truly elite class when it comes to running a fast break (I’d say him and Nash are probably the best two fast break point guards in basketball.) So I even like our chances if Cleveland goes small and tries to run with Varejao out there.

    The articles make a great point though, in that we can’t expect Paul Pierce to shoulder the load offensively, while he’s expending so much energy on offense. Others are going to have to step up. That means the bulk is on KG, Ray, and Rondo to get the job done, and the bench (TA, Sheed, Davis) are going to have to chip in.

    We need a complete team effort, everyone doing their part.

    This is a make or break series for Sheed too, if there ever was one. We need scoring in that second unit, the starters are going to be pushed to the limit, they need to rely on that bench to get some rest more than ever before, and the match ups with Varejao or Z that Sheed will get should mean a healthy dose of Sheed on the post.

    This is why he was brought to Boston, it’s shit or get off the pot time. After this series Sheed will either be remembered as the single biggest mistake of the modern Celtics, or the “Playoff warrior” he claims to be. Only time will tell.

  • Jay P

    “The articles make a great point though, in that we can’t expect Paul Pierce to shoulder the load offensively, while he’s expending so much energy on offense.”

    This was meant to say defense… brings up another point though, can CelticsHub enable some way for us to edit our comments?

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  • http://DreamGreen Ross in Maine

    Great posts, all. overall a very sound analysis. Not many mentions of our hallmark defense, though. In order to have a chance, we’ll not only need to make L.J. a jump shooter, we’ll also need to control the paint. with Perk and Baby playing at 100%, we should be able to do just that. If Perks knees act up and he loses another step, or baby doesn’t play smart and has his time limited by fouls, we’re in trouble. Sheed could be an x-factor … I hope he steps it up and makes an impact in the paint on both ends (he’s been doing better). It’s a big mountain the guys have to climb, but I think they’re up for it. Upset, here we come?

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