3 Point Defense: A comparison with the league leaders

I know that there has already been quite a bit of discussion about 3pt shooting. Not sure what this analysis will add, if anything. But after talking with Lohaus today, I now find it rather strange that the Heat, Raptors, and Bucks give up similar amounts of 3s, yet teams shoot way above average against the Bucks and abysmally against the Heat and Raptors. Can the stats start telling us anything about why this is the case? (All the following stats are from


Opponent 3PA/game

MIA: 37.5 (28th)

TOR: 38.6 (29th)

MIL: 39.0 (30th)

League Average: 33.7

Opponent 3%

MIA: 33.0% (1st)

TOR: 33.8% (2nd)

MIL: 36.2% (18th)

League Average: 35.6%

Okay, so Milwaukee gives up marginally more 3s per game than TOR and MIA. That could be pace. That could be scheme. Whatever it is, it doesn't really explain why teams shoot hotter against the Bucks and awful against the Heat and Raptors. Maybe the Bucks give up a much greater amount of open 3s? Conventional wisdom (and stats) seem to indicate that wide open 3s are easier to make. So lets see:

3PT Shooting Closest Defender

Opponent Wide Open 3s

(Defender within 6+ feet)

Opponent 3PA

MIA: 16.0 (18th)

TOR: 19.8 (29th)

MIL: 20.2 (30th)

Opponent 3%

MIA: 35.8% (3rd)

TOR: 36.1% (4th)

MIL: 37.9% (17th)

Opponent Open 3s

(Defender within 4-6 feet)

Opponent 3PA

MIA: 16.6 (30th)

TOR: 12.9 (8th)

MIL: 13.5 (18th)

Opponent 3%

MIA: 30.7% (2nd)

TOR: 32.9% (8th)

MIL: 36.4% (18th)

  • Miami does seem to give up less "wide-open" 3s, and they give up significantly more "open" 3PAs. But this doesn't seem to explain why teams shoot so abysmally against the Heat on these "open" attempts. I mean, teams are shooting 30.7% on open three point attempts against the Heat and 36.4% against the Bucks.
  • Toronto and Milwaukee seem to give up similar shot profiles, so it doesn't really make sense why teams are shooting so much better against Milwaukee on wide-open and open shot attempts and really bad against Toronto.
Perhaps it is the case that Miami and Toronto are giving up less 'easy' three-point shot attempts? Conventional wisdom says that corner threes are easier 3pt shots. So lets see what cleaning the glass has to say (Remember that cleaning the glass excludes garbage time, so that's why the numbers might look a little different than those above):

Corner 3s

Opponent Percentage of Corner 3s

MIA: 10.4% (29th) (This means that 10.4% of the opponents shots are from the corner 3)

TOR: 13.4% (30th)

MIL: 8.4% (22nd)

Opponent Accuracy on Corner 3s

MIA: 36.9% (9th)

TOR: 35.5% (4th)

MIL: 37.3% (10th)

Non-Corner 3s

Opponent Percentage of Non-Corner 3s

MIA: 29.4% (29th)

TOR: 27.1% (16th)

MIL: 30.5% (30th)

Opponent Accuracy on Non-Corner 3s

MIA: 31.9% (1st)

TOR: 33.8 (6th)

MIL: 37.5% (28th)

To me, it looks like the Bucks are doing exactly what the analytics say they should be doing. Out of these three teams, they do the best job of limiting the corner 3. But teams are still lighting them up.

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