It was only fitting that Sam Hauser scored a career-high 17 points on a night the Celtics set a franchise record with 27 3-pointers.
Nor was it a coincidence.
Hauser shot 5 of 8 from range and finished a plus-14 in 21 minutes in Boston’s 133-118 triumph over the Knicks on Saturday. He didn’t force anything but was ready to let it fly as soon as he had some space, as he has done all season.
It’s now November and Hauser is still shooting 54.8 percent from 3-point range this season — fourth-best in the NBA. The next sniper to catch? Kelly Olynik. A fierce battle between two machines.
Hauser does more than shoot, however. He’s the team’s best plus-64 player in nine games and always seems to be in the right place at the right time. There are enough samples in the past two seasons to say with certainty that his rise is no fluke.
If anything, it’s the start of something bigger. All a shooter needs is good passers around him who know how to find him in his spots, and Hauser has that and more.
He’s off and would probably be successful on most teams, but he really is a perfect fit. After their stunning performance on Saturday, the Celtics now lead the NBA with 16 3s per game.
The way the attack is organised, Hauser has nothing to do outside his comfort zone. He can just space the floor, move when needed, catch accurate passes and shoot. Marcus Smart and Malcolm Brogdon are elite passers, and Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Derrick White and Grant Williams are all above average in this area as well.
Making the extra pass becomes contagious for the Celtics — who finished with 30 assists on 47 field goals against the Knicks — and Hauser is often a big beneficiary.
“I’ve got a knocked down shooter there,” Smart said. “It’s hard for you to help someone like him.”
He seems to have developed a particularly pleasant relationship with Brogdon, who always seems to find him at exactly the right time. Check out this room. Hauser plays solid one-sided defense, takes off, gets to his spot, waits for the pass and splashes it.
The Celtics make a concerted effort to run, which often leads to easy buckets. Sure, Julius Randle is basically asleep here, but he’s also in an unenviable place. If he collapses on Brogdon, Hauser is open. If he goes to Brown, Hauser is open. If he goes to Hauser, Hauser will let him fly and shoot or make the extra pass to Brown. It’s not easy to defend.
Watch the way Smart’s hand goes in the air and he starts running down the pitch before the shot goes through the net. That’s Warriors magic right there.
Here is another. Look at how it opens up so organically and beautifully. Hauser is an underrated screener, and he knows how to use his body to generate space. The defense is in a tight spot again – stick with Brown on the slide or stick with Hauser beyond the arc.
Cam Reddish and Randle (this is when Tom Thibodeau’s last lock of hair fell out) both follow Brown, which leaves Steph Curry – sorry, Hauser – wide open for a look he’ll probably do 70 80% of the time. . Yes, it’s a bad defense, but it’s also a great offense.
If you challenge the shot, don’t be surprised if it overtakes you with its blistering speed. Well, OK, not quite flamboyant, but he can finish when he has to. Look at his first step and touch the rim here. Not too bad.
He’s not going to wow anyone with his dribbling, defensive post or rebounding ability, but he’s not a liability in any of those areas. Hauser knows how to defend intelligently, use his strengths to his advantage and hide his weaknesses.
When other teams attack him, they score occasionally but not as often as they probably think. He earned regular minutes running on both sides. Don’t be surprised if he keeps playing more and more.
“We’re proud of Sam,” Smart said. “Not just for his attack, but also for the way he stands defensively. He understands that a lot of people will try to pick on him defensively, but he works constantly and his confidence explodes. »
Hauser is an excellent NBA role player and one of the best pure shooters in the NBA. Remember when the Celtics needed a winger who could bury all 3s? Forget James Young, forget Abdel Nader, forget Max Strus, forget Aaron Nesmith.
Enter Sam Hauser. He’s not going anywhere.