The thunderous dunks that were once the mainstay of the NBA have not completely disappeared, by they could be considered an endangered species as teams have come to rely on the three-point shot to reduce opponents to submission.
Not long ago, the Golden State Warriors established a new record by hitting 21 of 40 three-point attempts in a playoff game against the Houston Rockets. That was on 24 April.
It took less that a fortnight for that record to fall when the LeBron James led Cleveland Cavaliers poured in 25 threes from 40 attempts in their second-round playoff game against the Atlanta Hawks, bettering the short-lived Warriors’ mark in total and percentage.
Oddly enough, James was not responsible for all 25 of the long-range shots; only four were his. Equally as odd, when the Warriors posted their mark, three-point-machine Stephen Curry was missing due to injury.
Older basketball fans will remember when the NCAA banished the dunk in order to restrain UCLA’s Kareem Abdul Jabbar (known in those times as Lew Alcindor). There was even talk of raising the rim as seven-footers started to show up out of the woodwork.
That led to a generation of players who seemingly could do nothing but dunk in the NBA ranks. Critics lamented the lack of outside shooting ability.
Those same critics now find fault with the trend of teams launching three-point attempts. They have some justification, given that of 504 field-goal attempts taken in this year’s playoffs, 214 of those shots, 42 percent, have been three-point attempts.