Celtics

Celtics

C.J. Miles isn’t a household name, but he has been a hot topic of discussion among the Boston Celtics heading into tonight’s game against the Indiana Pacers.

Like the Celtics (1-2), the Pacers (1-3) are also going through an adjustment period right now with new faces and some players like Miles, in a new role.

Indiana’s decision to use smaller lineups more often than they have in the past, has the 6-foot-6, 231-pound Miles playing some power forward.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens acknowledged Indiana’s non-traditional lineup with Miles at power forward poses a unique set of challenges for his team.

“They’ve had some really great moments,” Stevens said. “They lost those first two games when they were beating Utah by 10 at halftime; they were ahead of Memphis at halftime. They’re really stretching people out, playing up the court fast.”

Of course Paul George and newly acquired Monta Ellis are players NBA fans are familiar with as high-impact, difference-makers.

But what about Miles?

Here’s a snapshot of Miles’ play this season which gives you a better feel for why the Celtics are concerned about his potential impact on tonight’s game.

SCORING THREAT

He’s averaging 12.3 points per game while shooting 37.5 percent from the field. However, his effective Field Goal Percentage rises to 50.0 due to his 3-point shooting.

In fact, that’s where the bulk of his points scored will come from.


LOVER OF THE 3-BALL

Miles comes into tonight’s game averaging 6.3 3-pointers per game which picks up where he left off last season, his first with the Pacers.

Prior to coming to Indiana last season, Miles never averaged more than 5.0 (2013, Cleveland) 3-pointers per game. But in his first season with the Pacers, Miles averaged a career-high 6.4 3-points per game.

In four games this season with the Pacers, he is connecting on 10-of-25 from 3-point range, or 40 percent.

Because Indiana has George and Ellis attacking the paint off the dribble, this creates space for Miles to shoot a high number of relatively uncontested or wide open 3s.

Miles prefers to shoot above the break 3-pointers (he’s 8-for-22 from that range), but seems to be better from the corner (he’s only take three from the corner, with two makes).


MAKE HIM A BALL-HANDLER

And while he is a scoring threat, forcing him to dribble more seems to be the best defense against him getting into a nice shooting rhythm.

When he shoots without dribbling, his effective Field Goal Percentage is 69.6. After one dribble, his eFG% plummets to 37.5 and when he takes two dribbles, it sinks even lower to 25.0.

So for the Celtics, running him off spots where he wants to shoot which would force him to dribble, has to be one of the many goals they set for tonight’s game.

“They’re a very good team,” said Celtics guard Avery Bradley. “They have a lot of good players. We know when they go small it’s very effective. It’s hard to guard C.J. Miles when he’s at the four (power forward). He can knock down shots and spread out the floor.”

Boston’s Jae Crowder seems an ideal matchup to defend Miles. Crowder is also 6-6 and plays power forward at times for the Celtics.

Bradley acknowledges Crowder will help, but he won’t be looked upon to defend any one particular player.

“We all have to accept the challenge,” Bradley said. “And try to make everything hard on them.”