How Daniel Theis’ 3-Point Shooting Enhances Offense, Makes Teammates’ Jobs Easier

BOSTON — Teams are going to have to start overhauling their scouting reports before the next time they face the Boston Celtics.

OK, that might be a little strong, but the shooting range Daniel Theis displayed Wednesday against the Memphis Grizzlies certainly adds another layer to the Celtics’ offense.

It started when he contributed the Celtics’ first points of the game with a 3-pointer from 25 feet out.

Then, with 6:24 left in the second period, Theis knocked down a 25-foot triple. Ho-hum.

And just 1:23 later, he hit a 27-footer.

Theis’ first 3-pointer in the second quarter kicked off what became a 23-0 run for the Celtics in their eventual 119-95 win at TD Garden.

Enes Kanter’s reaction to Theis’ perimeter shooting captures the spirit of the moment best.

“My god, he’s going to get drug tested,” Kanter said after the game when asked what he was thinking once Theis started heating up. “I said he’s going to get drug tested. After he made the third three, seriously, at halftime, he got news that he’s getting drug tested.”

It’s little secret that the Celtics make a concerted effort to get their bigs to space the floor and, hopefully, knock down shots. Amir Johnson showed improvement while in Boston, while Al Horford became a legitimate threat from deep. Even Aron Baynes started getting some respect when he stepped out beyond the arc.

So just add Theis to the list of Celtics centers, past and present, who are trying to develop (and use) their shot.

“He’s been doing an unbelievable job, man,” Kanter said. “Offensively, defensively, this guy has been playing the best basketball of his career, I’m happy to have him on my side.

“If you’re a big man that can roll and pop, play defense, block shots, and just do a little bit of everything — he’s a plus guy every time he’s out there. He’s doing his job. He’s unselfish. He doesn’t care about stats. He just wants to go out there and win the game.”

It’s one thing to just send a big out wide. But when he’s actually hitting shots, the opposing team has no choice but to go out there and guard him. On Wednesday night, that meant drawing Jonas Valanciunas out with Theis and thus clearing the paint for Celtics guards.

As such, the guards and wings alike appreciate when Theis starts getting going.

“(My job becomes) much easier, much easier,” Marcus Smart said. “Just because we know a lot of teams play back on us and really, really, really, really (let us get) our bigs those shots. So for them to be able to knock it down, it’s going to open the paint for us guards even more.”

Noted Gordon Hayward: “It spaces the floor, so it makes you guard him out there and I think he’s done a great job all season of that. His passing too from out there (is good), it really just spaces the floor, so for sure (it makes my job easier).”

Entering Wednesday, Theis had attempted just 50 3-pointers this season, scoring on just 14 of them. But his showcase against the Grizzlies shows how the Celtics offense benefits when he lets that side of his game loose.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images

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