Was Chris Bosh’s 1-for-18 night the worst ever?

Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh stands on the court during the second against the Chicago Bulls quarter at the United Center in Chicago on January 15, 2011. The Bulls win 99-96. UPI/Brian Kersey

Chris Bosh missed 17 of his 18 shot attempts last night in the Heat’s 93-89 loss in Chicago. His shooting performance was so bad that it got me wondering — historically speaking, just how bad was it?

Basketball-Reference has a ‘play finder’ that allows users to look up individual games or seasons based on a series of criteria. It only goes back to the 1986-87 season, but for our purposes, that’s probably far enough. I asked the site to generate a list of players that attempted 15 or more shots but had two or fewer makes, and list those results in order of ascending field goal percentage. The resulting list shows the very worst shooting nights over the last 25 years.

As you can see, Bosh’s 1-for-18 debacle was the third worst shooting performance in the last 25 years, and the worst FG% for any player making at least one shot. Tim Hardaway’s 0-for-17 nightmare against the T-Wolves back in ’91 was worse, but at least his team managed to win the game. (How does a team win a game when one of its players goes 0-for-17?!? Hardaway’s 13 assists probably had something to do with it.) There are some big names on this list — Jason Kidd (twice), Clyde Drexler, Karl Malone, Carmelo Anthony, Reggie Miller — which makes sense since stars are more likely to shoot 15+ times in any given game.

Playoff games are denoted with an asterisk, so Michael Finley’s 1-for-17 outing against the Spurs in 2001 is the worst postseason shooting night in the last 25 years. Mike Bibby, Miller and Anthony all went 1-for-16 in the postseason at one time or another.

But back to Bosh — since the game had a playoff atmosphere, is it an indicator of how he’ll play in the postseason? For that matter, how have Dwyane Wade and LeBron James done against the East’s elite?

Here’s a look:

EFF stands for the NBA’s Efficiency statistic, described in more detail here. It has its faults, but it’s a good number to look at when trying to get a feeling for a player’s overall performance in any given game.

Clearly, Bosh doesn’t fare as well against the top teams in the East as his efficiency is about 25% lower against Boston, Chicago and Orlando. But Wade’s performance is even worse. His 13.8 EFF against the top teams is about a 50% drop from his production against all other teams. A closer look at Wade’s game log reveals that he has been especially bad against the Celtics this season (EFF of 2.3 per game), while playing pretty well against the Bulls and Magic (EFF of 20.6 per game), so the Celtics are Wade’s kryptonite right now.

The only member of the Super Friends to raise his level of play against the conference elite is LeBron. Against Boston, Chicago and Orlando, he has played about 8% better in terms of efficiency. This also supports his case to be the league’s MVP for the third straight season (though Derrick Rose is also staking his claim).

Based on these numbers, the Heat should be concerned with how Bosh is going to fare in the postseason, but that’s been a concern with him all along. Throw in Wade’s dreadful play against Boston this season and Miami can’t be looking forward to a seven-game series with the Celtics.

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