Is 3-Point Shot Viable Weapon For Pacers?
Monday, Jan. 9, 2006
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OF THE DAY
Q. The Pacers have attempted 563 3-point shots while their opponents have attempted 399. Indiana ranks 10th of 15 Eastern Conference teams in 3-point percentage. It seems like the 3-point shot is not a viable strategy for this team to win ballgames. Is the large number of 3-pointers the result of broken plays turning into shooting against the shot clock, or by offensive design? (From Keith in Long Beach, Calif.)
A. Of the statistical indicators of team performance, few have been more telling than 3-point percentage. In the last 11 victories, the Pacers have shot 44.7 percent from the arc. In the last 10 losses, they've shot 24.6 percent. It's clear, then, that the 3-point shot has been a very important part of the offensive attack. But it hasn't been a matter of how many they're taking, it's the circumstances that lead to the shot.
There are few circumstances under which the 3-point shot is the first option in any of the offensive sets. The idea is to work the post, either with Jermaine O'Neal or, as has developed lately, Stephen Jackson. Assuming the defense is forced to collapse inside, something will be open outside. If the ball is rotated crisply, somebody should wind up with an open shot, often from the 3-point line. In the last two games, particularly, the offense has gone according to that script and the team has shot very well from long range.
The Pacers have run into problems when they lose discipline within the offense and take the first jumper available, rather than moving the ball around, probing the interior of the defense either in the post or via penetration. They've also tended, after falling into a bit of a hole, to try to shoot their way out of it, which rarely works. With Sarunas Jasikevicius, Jackson and Austin Croshere, the Pacers have high-quality 3-point shooters. Fred Jones and Jamaal Tinsley can get into a rhythm and be effective from the perimeter, although both are better when attacking the basket. The 3-pointer should remain an important weapon in the arsenal, as long as the shot develops within the context of the offense.