Wesley Matthews’ bow-and-arrow celebration is becoming his signature. Fans know about it, his teammate knows about, and even NBA 2K knows about it, as his character in the video game shoots an imaginary arrow after knocking down a three-pointer.
But it’s not just Matthews who’s been shooting arrows this season. The 2-guard has already hit five treys this season in 12 attempts, good for 41.7 percent, so we’ve already had plenty of chances to see him let ’em fly both from deep and from his bow. His teammates are beginning to join in, too, which has made for some pretty awesome mass bench celebrations.
Here’s a clip of his second three-pointer last night against the Lakers. The Xs-and-Os of the play were nice: Dallas was in a secondary break and, after some freelancing, Zaza Pachulia cleared some room for Matthews to get the shot after a nice pass from Deron Williams.
But look carefully at the bench.
Let’s take a closer look and really break down what’s going on here. From left to right:
J.J. Barea is letting out a pretty primal roar. And although he’s not practicing archery like many of his peers, he still holds up the “double drei” — Dirk Nowitzki’s celebratory three-point gesture of choice — and takes about five steps toward the floor. Enthusiastic.
It’s hard to tell because he’s still sitting down, but Devin Harris discreetly let an arrow of his own fly. The vet is seasoned enough to know that there’s no time for serious bow-and-arrow work when icing your ankles, but he’s creative enough to make it work while sitting down — also making sure not to hit anyone in the process.
Raymond Felton stands up and holds up three fingers. Not his best work, but it’s a long season so there’s plenty of time to improve. This is one of those “coachable moments” you hear guys with clipboards talking about. Review the film and prepare for next time.
Charlie Villanueva displays some terrific form. There’s not much more to say here. There’s no doubt that he’s been practicing his shot. Really impressive stuff from the big man.
Salah Mejri claps enthusiastically. He’s a rookie; he’ll learn.
Dwight Powell joins Barea and Villanueva in standing up before the shot even goes in. That’s good anticipation. But the problem with Powell’s reaction comes after the shot’s made. It looks like he’s cocking an arrow back in the bow but he never actually lets it fly. (And he never even pulled one out of his quiver to begin with.) Maybe he thought about shooting an arrow but then decided against it at the last second.
John Jenkins and Jeremy Evans both get up out of their seats once the shot goes in. To be fair, where they’re sitting doesn’t give them a great angle to know if the shot’s falling before it actually sinks through the net. We’ll give them a pass. Besides, a polite standing ovation is always welcomed.
JaVale McGee cocks back and then points forward with three fingers. There must be some context here, but it will take some reporting to figure out what exactly is going on. Maybe he’s the general giving his archers the volley. If so, he does a really good job of that.
Underrated element of this: Equipment manager Al Whitley lets an arrow fly while sitting on the floor. Pretty inspiring stuff.
The Mavs came a long way for Matthews from the season opener, when Justin Anderson was the only player to shoot an arrow.
The most exciting part of the NBA season is measuring a team and its players’ development over the course of an entire season. But in a matter of just a few days, the Mavs were able to take huge strides in turning their bench into one of the most exciting in the league. There were many encouraging signs in last night’s game — from Nowitzki scoring 25 to Chandler Parsons making his season debut — but this might have been the most positive.