The Times They Are a-Changin': Why Boston Must Embrace the Long Range Game

If you've been watching the 2nd round of the playoffs, one thing must be painfully clear: it's become a shooter's league.

The Celtics have been a mid-range shooting club ever since Kevin Garnett came to town, but the 2008 championship team still was 8th in made 3-pointers and 5th in 3-point percentage. Not only did that roster feature Ray Allen and Paul Pierce in their primes, but it also had sharp-shooting role players in James Posey and Eddie House.

This season, the Celtics were 25th in the NBA in 3-point makes and 15th in percentage, putting massive pressure on the mid-range shooters to be lights out. While Jeff Green was surprisingly good from downtown (39%) and Jason Terry wasn't as bad as he seemed (37%), Boston didn't have a single player make more than 2 3s per contest. 10 of the 16 playoff teams did.

When you consider our big men went from a Kendrick Perkins, Leon Powe, PJ Brown, and KG in his prime (not to mention The White Mamba!) to Brandon Bass, Chris Wilcox, Shavlik Randolph, and a 36-year-old KG, it's easy to see just how much punch we've lost inside as well. When you don't hit 3's, you don't penetrate, and you're last in offensive rebounding, you just can't score enough to win. Even as our offense declined over the past few years, you always knew that Ray Allen was going to hit a late-game trifecta, but without him or a healthy Rondo, there just isn't a Celtic who can consistently create great looks.

Of the remaining playoff teams, The Knicks, Heat, Spurs, and Warriors were all top-10 in made 3s. The Thunder were 3rd in percentage, and while while Indiana (15th) was middle of the pack and Chicago and Memphis were dead last, those 3 squads all have elite big men.

The age of the big-man is over: 10 years ago, the league's best rebounders included Ben Wallace, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Dikembe Mutombo, and Shaquille O'Neal. This year, that list featured Nikola Vucevic, Omer Asik, Reggie Evans, and J.J. Hickson. With post play disappearing and point-guards more dominant than ever, more and more coaches are overloading one side of the floor to stop penetration. This has created a massive demand for 3-point shooters to space the floor: just compare the team numbers from this season to 10 year ago.

As this summer's free agency begins, Danny Ainge has to find a deadly long-range shooter. Even if it's a player who can't do much else, a 3-point specialist on a low-end deal could provide a huge boost to Boston's offense, much like how Kyle Korver revitalized the Atlanta offense on only a $5 million deal. Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee don't seem to be the answer, Jason Terry isn't getting any younger, and there probably won't be an All-Star big man walking through the door. For the Celtics to contend, they have to adapt to the times and embrace the long range game. Like Bob Dylan sang in 1964, "The Times They Are a-Changin'".

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