Open Shots, Rolling the Dice, and D.C. Quarterbacks: Pixels at the Tip
It’s a new day. With a win tonight, the Wizards can even the series at 2-2 and make this series a best of three going forward. By this point, most everyone is aware that something almost unspeakable happened to Washington’s ability to put the round orange thing through the round metal ring at Verizon Center in Game 3. We shall speak of that thing.
The Wizards, as they often do, did a fairly good job of finding open shots in Game 3. Forty out of Washington’s 73 shots were uncontested. The Pacers were able to generate an almost identical amount of uncontested shots (39 out of 74).
On the surface … the Wizards just missed a ton of open shots. The team’s field goal percentage for uncontested shots (30.0%) was quite a bit lower than it was for contested shots (36.4%). The Pacers took a more orthodox approach, making their uncontested shots (46.2%) at a far higher rate than their contested shots (37.1%).
So, you ask, what the **** happened? Let’s take a look. The following chart shows the shot distribution (or what percentage of Washington’s shots came in certain areas).
So, 19 out of Washington’s 73 shots (26 percent) were long mid-range shots. Eight out of 73 (11 percent) were shorter midrange attempts. Shots outside the paint but inside the 3-point line accounted for 37 percent of Washington’s offense. Unfortunately, the NBA’s player tracking technology doesn’t yet cross-reference shot location and contest rates.
The Wizards offense is built, to a large extent, around the midrange shot. It’s part coaching philosophy, and partially due to the ball-handlers (Wall and Beal) pulling up as soon as they see daylight. So far, during the playoffs, the Wizards have three players in the top 10 in 15-19 foot attempts per game: Nene is third (7.3 attempts per game, 45.1%), Wall is sixth (4.5 attempts per game, 25.0%), and Bradley Beal is seventh (4.3 attempts per game, 29.3%). So, mixed results. Even after an awful shooting game in Game 3, Nene is shooting the midrange at a more respectable clip. John Wall and Bradley Beal? Yikes. No.
It’s more of the same for Wall and Beal, who ended the season ranked ninth and eighth, respectively, in the NBA for 15-19 foot shots. And if some thought Washington’s guards were inefficient during the regular season (Beal shot 38.1 percent, and Wall shot 36.8 percent from 15-19 feet during the regular season), the playoff defenses of two of the NBA’s best have been no more kind.
Randy Wittman wants his players to take open shots, and shots from 15-19 feet are often open. When it works, it’s demoralizing for the other team, and it opens up the offense. When it doesn’t work at all, as seen above, it’s ugly. It’s the nature of the beast, to a certain extent, less dictated by how contested the shot is and more by whether the shots are going down. If that seems like a roll of the dice, it is. So breathe that hot breath on some six-sided squares and let them fly, because the Wizards need all the luck they can get.
Pre-Game Pixels from the Eye of the Storm
Photos and Video by Adam McGinnis
Bradley Beal, starting at wide receiver…