Jae Crowder shot the ball better than ever over the course of the 2016-17 regular season, knocking down career-best marks from both the field (46.3%) and beyond the arc (39.8%). You never would have known it judging by the way he shot it during the Celtics first round series against the Chicago Bulls, though.
In six games, Crowder hit on a mere 40.9% from the floor, including a miserable 27.3% from three-point land. With the Celtics struggling early on in that series, his shot abandoned him at the worst possible time and Boston was fortunate to have other options to help spread the floor for the rest of the offense.
If Sunday’s Game 1 against the Washington Wizards is any indication, though, it seems like Crowder might be coming out of his funk. He was terrific in that game, scoring 24 points on 57.1% shooting from the field (8/14) and a scorching 75% clip on threes (6/8).
“Shooters shoot,” Crowder told CSNNE’s A. Sherrod Blakely following the Celtics 123-111 win. “I don’t worry about that aspect of me being in a slump or anything because I got to take those shots. My teammates believe in me and coaches believe in me, so I got to step up and make them. But I work a lot, so it’s only a certain amount of time to hold a shooter down and I feel like it was just due for me to have a good game like that. Hopefully I can just carry off that and just carry the momentum and keep going.”
There’s really no rhyme or reason as to why Crowder cooled off so dramatically in the Bulls series. He shot 40% on threes where the closest defender was 2-4 feet away from him, according to NBA.com, but only 7.6% of his three-point shots were of that variety.
What’s surprising is his 21.1% clip from beyond the arc where he was considered open (closest defender 4-6 feet away), and those shots accounted for 28.8% of his threes—by far the most.
Judging by these numbers, Crowder was just flat out missing. The Bulls weren’t doing anything extra to pressure him while he was shooting. When that’s the case, it’s usually only a matter of time until a good shooter finds his way out of a slump.
Sunday proved that. Once again, the majority of his threes were of the “open” variety and he went 3/4 on those looks.
Of course, one game is a small sample to draw conclusions from, but it’s a heck of a sample. Crowder will need to continue to knock down open shots in order to keep the Celtics offense humming.