- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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(AP Photo/David Goldman
Boston's Nate Robinson (4) shoots a jumper over Atlanta's Jamal Crawford.To suggest the Celtics' success is based solely on their ability to hit mid-range jumpers is clearly an oversimplification. That said, the Green -- who are sixth in the league overall from 16-to-23 feet, shooting 42.5 percent from that range -- have shot 38.9 percent or worse in three of their four losses this season. It's hard not to suggest that there's at least some correlation between when that shot falls and when it doesn't.
Just look at Boston's two most impressive wins: Recent triumphs over Washington and Atlanta where the team combined to shoot 25 of 43 (58.1 percent) from 16-to-23 feet. Balance that against the four losses, where Boston connected on a mere 35 of 88 attempts (39.8 percent, and that number is aided by Boston's 12-for-23 performance in the loss to Oklahoma City).
The Celtics connected on a season-high 14 mid-range field goals while shooting 53.8 percent from that distance in Monday's thrashing of the Hawks. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce combined to make all seven shots they took in that range (in fact, Boston's bench contributed eight of the 12 misses on the night).
How important in the mid-range overall? The Lakers are shooting a mere 37.3 percent there this season, good for just 24th best in the league, while the Hawks are shooting a league-best 44.5 percent from that range and, well, we saw how much they're struggling Monday. But it should be noted that the Lakers offset their mid-range woes by being the best defensive mid-range team in the league (limiting opponents to 33.8 percent from 16-to-23 feet), while the Hawks, not surprisingly, are the second-worst team in the league allowing opponents to shoot 46.4 percent from the mid-range.
The Celtics are actually among the worst teams in defending that range this season, as well, sitting 24th with opponents shooting 41.4 percent in the mid-range this season. Even still, they remain on the positive side of the mid-range differential and, if those numbers continue to spread out, it bodes well for the Celtics.
So who are the mid-range kings for the Celtics so far? Garnett is shooting a team-best 51 percent (40 of 79), while Ray Allen is on his heels at 50 percent (21 of 42). Rajon Rondo (44 percent, 16 of 36) and Glen Davis (41 percent, 20 of 49) are faring well, while Pierce (36 percent, 16 of 45) is improving after a slow start.
Early numbers suggest that both Nate Robinson (9 of 26, 35 percent) and Marquis Daniels (0 of 11, 0 percent) would be better served putting the ball on the floor and attacking the basket (where they are among the team leaders at finishing at the rim).