Do the Boston Celtics shoot too many 3-pointers?
The Boston Celtics suffered their first loss of the month on Monday night in Chicago. They fell to the Bulls 121-107 after an underwhelming night on both ends of the floor. The defense just wasn’t there for Boston. They allowed the Bulls to make 51% of their shots, including 48% of their three-point attempts.
Those numbers weren’t something the Celtics were able to compete with, despite being amongst the top offenses in NBA history. Just 43% of their shots found the bottom of the net. Surprisingly, they knocked down 38% of their 3-pointers in Chicago. That number was fueled by a second half where Boston made 11/24 attempts from beyond the arc. However, the first half was so bad that the game was out of reach for the majority of the third and fourth quarters. Just eight of the 26 attempts from deep fell for the Cs before the break.
It was bad.
They couldn’t buy a 3-pointer, but continued to chuck them up. Those 26 attempts from downtown made up 57% of their shots for the half. The first quarter was even worse. Boston shot worse from deep and took more. They took 22 shots and 17 of them were threes. That’s an outrageous number when you shoot just 29% from range. They quite literally shot themselves out of the game.
Despite Monday’s rough showing, the Boston Celtics are still the league’s third-best three point shooting team. Only the Denver Nuggets and Cleveland Cavaliers shoot better than Boston’s 39% clip from three-point land. They take the second-most threes in the league at 41.9 per game, only behind the Golden State Warriors.
So, why does it feel like a bad thing that they took 51 threes at United Center Monday?
Timely shooting wasn’t there for the Boston Celtics against the Bulls
The Boston Celtics missed a lot of timely and open attempts. Of Boston’s 87 attempts, 52 of them were open or wide open, according to the NBA’s website. From beyond the arc, the Celtics were 4/18 (22%) on open 3-pointers and 11/26 (42%) on wide open downtown looks. For the season, they make 38% of open 3-pointers and 40% of wide open 3’s.
The stats say that Boston takes an appropriate amount of long-range attempts, but I’m not buying it. Even though a team only has to make 33% of their 3-pointers to match the pace of making 50% of twos, it makes less sense to favor the 3. If you’re only making a third of your shots, then the opposing team is able to generate offense off of your misses 17% more often. It may not seem like much, but that can turn into easy fast break points, especially with the long rebounds that are generated by the longer shots.
Marcus Smart somewhat echoed this way of thought after Monday’s loss. “It actually puts a lot of pressure on your defense when you’re not making shots.”
Malcolm Brogdon had a similar take on the 3-pointers, explaining that it’s tough to stray from the shot at times. “I think we’re such a high-level shooting team from the arc, we rely on that and I think we need more balance, especially if those threes aren’t falling, we’re not making shots out there.”
So what do you think do the Boston Celtics shoot too many 3’s? Do you agree with the stats or with the players?