Richard Jefferson believes Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown should be attacking the rim more frequently. His comments came after the Boston Celtics’ loss to the Denver Nuggets on Friday. Tatum and Brown combined for 2-of-17 shooting from the perimeter but scarcely looked to pressure the rim throughout the game.
“These dudes are 6-foot-9, 6-foot-8, 40-inch verts, all of the length, all of the size. You know how many free-throw attempts they had? Five. You have five free-throw attempts, and you were 2-for-17 from three … I’m sorry. At some point in time — you saw it with one minute to go. (Tatum) drives by Aaron Gordon, who is a physical specimen,” Jefferson said. “You drive by him and get a dunk. Don’t tell me you couldn’t have done that three, four more times, gotten two more buckets, and two more free throws. Maybe a collapse and a wide-open shot for your teammate.”
Boston’s offense currently ranks third in the NBA. However, Joe Mazzulla has often received criticism for his team’s over-reliance on perimeter shooting, where they lead the league in attempts, per Cleaning The Glass.
Brown is one of the most athletic transition scorers in the league. Tatum has embraced finishing through the contract this season. Both are capable of pressuring the rim against an elite defense. Interior finishing takes its toll on the body, though.
You’re at a higher risk of sustaining an injury. Tatum and Brown are accomplished shooters — both in the mid-range and on the perimeter. It makes sense that they would be judicial in their mid-January shot selection.
The Celtics currently sit 26th in the NBA for frequency of attacking the rim. There is no doubt they’re capable of improving their shot selection to provide a more well-rounded offensive system, but that’s not Mazzulla’s brand of basketball.
He wants Boston to take a significant amount of perimeter shots. Right now, that system is working. The Celtics own the best record in the NBA and didn’t hit double-digit losses until Jan. 19. They’re also 20-1 on their home court.
As long as the Celtics keep on stacking wins, Mazzulla will have no need to adjust his game plan. That might earn him some additional criticism, but it will all be worth it if the Celtics make it back to the NBA Finals for the second time in three seasons.