It was the shot that used to keep the Indiana Pacers in games. It was the shot that was deemed a weapon, a necessary catalyst for an offense that didn't have the strength to survive in the post or the athleticism to create off the dribble.
Last season, the 3-pointer was one of the team's highlights. The Pacers shot 37.8 percent from the beyond the arc, and it was a roster that spread out defenses that were scared of the bomb that could be unleashed by three or four of the players sitting on the wing. But, this season has been different story.
As laid out in Mike Wells' Indianapolis Star story today, the Pacers have become not only an average squad at 3-point shooting this season, but are starting to become, well, bad at it. Indiana has dropped to a meager 31 percent this year and are ranked 23rd in the league.
The shooting woe's started early this season when All-Star Danny Granger started ice cold from the perimeter, and other 3-point aces (or at least in previous lives) such as Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavy were injured. Since then, his teammates have had a difficult time picking up the slack with the situation escalating to the point where the Milwaukee Bucks easily executed a stingy perimeter defense in the final seconds of their meeting with the blue and gold last week. By just focusing on Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy, the Pacers' only threats who were on the court in the final minutes, T.J. Ford had to make something happen in order for the Pacers to win. As you know, that's a problem, and Ford didn't disappoint as the Pacers blew another game and gained another loss.
Granger told Wells what he thought the problem has been this season: "I think we're not getting the shots we're accustomed to getting. We're still a little uneasy on when we're going to get them, what spots we're going to get them at on the court. Then we pass up a lot of open ones and then shoot challenged ones."
The lack of 3-point consistency has been thrown to the forefront of what the Pacers need to fix heading into the new year. Coach Jim O'Brien is counting on Granger's return and better offensive execution to help ease the struggles. O'Brien also admittedly stated that he doesn't know what the situation is. At least he's honest. Here's what else the coach had to say.
"It's amazing how we couldn't coach defense last year and now we can't coach offense. I don't know what the situation is. I think in order to be a good 3-point shooting team. You have to have the ability to have at least three 3-point shooters on the court at the same time. We have rarely had that luxury this year."
Only two links today:
- NBA.com features some Christmas Day plotlines to keep an eye on this holiday weekend. One of them involves Mike Dunleavy feeling the lingering effects of his injury.
- A Pacers-Hawks preview for tonight's matchup, courtesy of the Sporting News.