The Boston Celtics need to look to their defense to get an advantage from three point range
The Boston Celtics went into this series against the Milwaukee Bucks knowing they should be able to get a three point advantage on every team in the league, except for maybe the Warriors and the Rockets. The Celtics came in as the best three point defense, while shooting second best in the league from deep.
Against the Bucks, absolutely none of that has translated, because the Celtics have not been able to elevate their own shooting enough. Even worse, they cannot defend the three even slightly close to the standard they set in the regular season.
Offense is a problem, because the Celtics depend so much on their three point shooting. The Celtics are not going to stop being a high volume three point shooting team. They have not been horrible in this series, but they can certainly be better. The Celtics will want to improve the way they are shooting on the outside, but the defense is a much bigger problem right now.
During the regular season, the Celtics were number one in the league allowing teams to shoot just 33.9 percent. In the playoffs, they are dead last, allowing the Bucks to shoot a scorching 43.6 percent. When you take into account the Bucks shooting just 35.5 percent on the season, you figure there should be some natural regression.
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Unfortunately, the Celtics do not have time to wait for the Bucks to regress, and need to find a way to defend the three like they did in the regular season. Khris Middleton is the biggest problem, and Thon Maker getting hot from deep is not something anyone anticipated. The Bucks have other good shooters with players like Malcolm Brogdon and Jabari Parker.
That being said, the Celtics have a defense that is built to defend the three at every single position, and they need to make sure the Bucks are not able to get comfortable.
A lot of it also has to do with the damage they can do on the inside, and the limited versatility of the second unit front court. The Bucks have a lot of size and length that will be able to stretch the floor, and that has turned Greg Monroe into a liability far too often.
The Celtics do not have the depth that can keep up with the length and versatility of the Bucks, but they still know how unacceptable it has been so far. The Celtics need to find a way to defend better, and need to prevent the Bucks from taking shots in rhythm.
Maybe it means making things a bit easier for Gianns Antetokounmpo on the inside. The Celtics have shown an ability to withstand a dominant performance from Antetokounmpo. The problems come when they allow his play to open things up for everyone else, leaving the Celtics chasing players and leaving far too many open shots.
Going into this series, the Celtics were supposed to have a clear and distinct advantage from three point range, and it should have been on both ends. So far, the Celtics have not been anywhere near their potential on either end, and with how prominent three point shooting is, they need to fix these problems from beyond the arc if they are going to win this series.
Keep in mind, Marcus Smart has just been upgraded to questionable for game five, and getting him back in the lineup could make all the difference with their three point defense, and that is the number one thing to focus on right now.