I was listening to an interview yesterday on WEEI with Danny Ainge. While handing out some accolades for his team’s 2-0 lead, he referenced the big 3’s Rasheed Wallace had hit during this Orlando series.
Immediately, I noticed the irony of that statement. The guy who had put together one of the worst 3 point shooting seasons in both Celtic and NBA history, was now being praised for his efforts. In many ways, it was a microcosm of this entire 2009-10 Celtics season.
Once the shock began to wear off from that statement though, I found myself unable disagree with Ainge’s comments on Sheed’s outside shooting. The guy had been stroking it well these past few weeks, and obviously it has been paying off for the C’s.
I was still curious though about Sheed’s efforts. Just how well had he shot from downtown during this postseason so far? A quick investigation led to complete and utter shock:
Ladies and gentlemen, brace yourselves. Through 13 postseason games, Rasheed Wallace is leading your Boston Celtics in 3 point shooting percentage.
Still with me? Just making sure. Ok, so just how well is he shooting anyway? Let’s take a look at his numbers.
Rasheed Wallace: 42.9% (9-21)
Wow. Not too shabby for a guy that shot 28 percent on the season. He also ranks 4th in the league from beyond the arc, out of the players that are still active these NBA playoffs, behind such sharpshooters like Mickael Pietrus, Jordan Farmar and Jason Richardson. You couldn’t make this stuff up.
We’ll talk about Sheed more in a bit. In the meantime, let’s try to guess who comes next in the pack behind Wallace in 3 point shooting percentage, since well, we are all about surprises here at Celtics Hub today. So whose next on that list?
Ray Allen? Paul Pierce? Michael Finley? Nate Robinson’s garbage time 3’s?
No, no, no and close but no.
So who’s left then? Stumped at all? Look no further then to Mr. MVP. Rajon Rondo. A full breakdown of the leaders from deep, after Sheed thus far:
Rajon Rondo: 40% (6-15)
Ray Allen: 39.8% (33-83)
Paul Pierce: 38.1% (24-63)
Nate Robinson: 37.5% (3-8)
Nate managed to get up those 8 attempts in just 28 minutes of garbage time. Way to go Nate!
Back to the rest of the team though, beginning with Sheed. In my estimation, Sheed’s success this postseason has really come down to one thing: picking his spots.
You see, Wallace has done all of his damage from deep in just four games this postseason; games 3 and 6 against Cleveland and the first two against Orlando.
Now the Sheed detractor will tell you that well, that explains everything. Sheed got lucky a few times, he shouldn’t be praised for that. However, just as important is the damage Sheed isn’t inflicting on the C’s with his misses from deep.
Except for those 4 games, Sheed has not taken more than 1 three-point attempt in any other playoff contest. In fact, he hasn’t even attempted one in four of them.
For a guy that averaged nearly 4 attempts a game during this regular season, that drop-off to just over one and half per game this postseason has been crucial. Sheed is picking his spots and it’s serving the C’s well.
That’s why in a way, I compare Sheed’s performance this postseason, to J.D. Drew’s first season in a Red Sox uniform in 2007. Like Wallace, Drew was an overpaid signing with plenty of talent, but also question marks in the heart department during his first 162 games.
After an underwhelming regular season, the criticism came fast and furious at Drew, who had a slow start to his postseason as well, in the ALDS. The Red Sox advanced in spite of him (sound familiar?) and found themselves in a dogfight in the ALCS with the Indians.
Fighting back from down 3-1 in the series, Drew hit a grand slam in game 7 to cap the comeback for the Red Sox. J.D. came through exactly when that team needed him to and hence, the questioning of the right fielder ceased soon thereafter, as the Sox cruised to a title.
Sheed right now, is doing exactly what this team got him for, when they need it the most. He was acquired specifically to help this squad get past Orlando, and with the threat of his outside shooting, combined with his interior presence against Dwight Howard, the returns have made him, like Drew, well worth the high purchase price.
On a separate note, it’s also worth pointing out that Sheed, combined with Rondo’s hot shooting, have also turned the C’s from a subpar regular season 3 point shooting team (34.8%, 17th in league) to an elite group during this postseason run (37.3%).
Those two and half percentage points, may not seem like a big deal, but after squeaking out enough 3 and 4 point wins on the road this postseason, those numbers begin to add up and the C’s are reaping the benefits.