We, from the outside, have a bad habit of judging things in basketball based on whether a shot went in or not. That is especially true on a night where the Celtics were dared to shoot from deep and only shot 11-49. Just looking at those two numbers triggers a visceral reaction.
Why keep shooting if you're cold?
Live by the 3, die by the 3
And so on...
In fact, the 3-pointer has changed the game so much it's difficult to even have the discussion of which 3's are good and which are bad. Sometimes they look the same and it's just a matter of a player making a tough shot or not.
The Celtics didn't make many tough shots in this loss to the Thunder, and part of why they lost is their abysmal shooting from deep. It can very easily be argued that if the Celtics make an average amount, they would have hit six more on the night and won by double digits.
They didn't. And so the argument begins.
"There were some that certainly were forced, there’s no question about it," Brad Stevens said after the game. "And there were some that were just missed. And that’s part of the game."
An NBA player will almost always argue that getting a clean look means it's okay to pull the trigger, mostly because NBA defenses are generally good enough that clean looks don't come along often. However, there are some shots, especially 3 pointers, that will just be generally available at all times. In those situations, it's better to probe the defense a little bit to see if giving up a good shot leads to a great shot.
Here's one example.
Marcus Smart gets the dribble handoff from Luke Kornet, doesn't see anyone on him, and he fires. He'll say that's a good look, and he's right. It's a good look. But with 13 seconds on the shot clock, why not see what else is available?
Instead of shooting, why not drive it to the left and see if you can't suck in the defense and get Romeo Langford a look in the corner?
Evan Fournier will rotate up top basically to where Smart was, Aaron Nesmith will replace Fournier, and Smart will continue through and end up in the right corner.
So instead of pulling up from the top of the key, a couple of dribbles, could result in a pass to Langford, a swing to Fournier, another swing to Nesmith, and then a final pass back over to Smart in the right corner for a more set catch-and-shoot look. If we want to take it a step further, Smart could still have time to up-fake the defender closing out, drive to the baseline, and hit a diving Kornett for a basket.
Any one of those passes could result in something more open, and for a better shooter. All of those passes would have forced the Thunder to work their butts off for a full possession.
It's not always on the shooter, either.
Payton Pritchard comes off the re-screen from Thompson and sees