This week's eight things I like and dislike include perhaps the most important number of the season, the unsung heroes from the Orlando Magic's 13-5 start and the Golden State Warriors player who has stepped up to earn more playing time.
Jump to Lowe's Things:
Celtics trading 3s for 2s | Unsung Magic heroes
Hayward's crisis of confidence | Denver's security blanket
The NBA's Sisyphus | A competent Wizard |
More Moses Moody | Meet the fake "trailing" 3
1. The Boston Celtics need to love the rim
This may be the most important niche number of the season: 30.4%. That is the share of Boston's shots that have come within the restricted area -- eighth lowest in the league, per Cleaning The Glass. It is about identical to their number last season.
Boston also ranks below average (19th) in free throw rate; they were 28th last season.
There is nothing wrong with being a jump-shooting team when you take and make the right jump shots. Boston leads the league in 3-point attempts and takes the second-fewest mid-rangers. That's healthy, though Boston's 3s tilt more above the break. All eight of Boston's core rotation players are above-average 3-point shooters. No team has better spacing. The middle of the floor is wide open.
One intended payoff of all that open territory is the ability to attack it without any defenders in your way. The Celtics are at their best when they remember the rim and the foul line are still the most reliable sources of offense -- immune from the cruel vicissitudes of shooting luck. They become vulnerable when they forget that -- when they fall in love with hero-ball jumpers.
There is no need for major recalibration. Boston should rank in the top three in 3s. But on some nights against elite defenses -- or when the 3s go cold -- exchanging four or five jumpers for assaults on the basket can be the difference between winning and losing. Driving to kick it out should not be the default option every time one of Boston's perimeter players hits the paint. If a corridor is there, seize it, even if it's narrow. It's OK to get a little grimy -- to seek contact.