Oct. 5--UNIVERSITY PARK -- Shooting 3-pointers in the NBA used to be for finesse teams, which was a euphemism for soft teams.
Those that relied on shots from beyond the arc usually were too weak to withstand the meat grinder in the paint and often flamed out in the playoffs, no matter how good their shooters were.
The top six 3-point shooting teams last season made the playoffs. Two of them -- Boston and the Los Angeles Lakers -- were in the NBA Finals. Of the bottom 11 teams in 3-point percentage, only the Mavericks, Houston and Philadelphia made the playoffs. None of them made it past the first round.
This trend cannot be ignored, nor will it be by new Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle and his staff. He wants the Mavericks to get back to their old form as one of the best 3-point teams in the league.
Last season, the Mavs ranked 20th at slightly better than 35 percent. They shot 17 3-pointers per game. In the playoffs, they were worse, hitting 34.6 percent to New Orleans' 45.9 percent.
That won't cut it.
"If you're really going to contend, you've got to be shooting it 36 [percent] or higher," Carlisle said. "And most teams in that category shoot 18 to 20 times. For example, last year [the Mavs] were 12-3 in games where [they] shot 36 percent and had 18 or more attempts. It just shows you the quantum power of the 3-point shot.
"We just want it to be the kind of thing where the right guys are shooting them, obviously, and when the opportunities present themselves, we're just stepping into them and not thinking about them."
It goes beyond the fact that shooting 40 percent from 3-point range provides as many points as shooting 60 percent from inside the arc. The 3-point shot can deflate an opponent. It can boost a team psychologically to hit two or three of them.
The Mavericks have spent plenty of practice time working on their perimeter shooting. Carlisle wants to encourage smart 3-point shots. He's not opposed to Dirk Nowitzki trailing a fast break and getting a trey with 16 or 18 seconds left on the shot clock.
Not that he wants to make a habit of it. But if the shots are taken in rhythm, he's not opposed to the occasional quick 3-point heave.