Last night, the Celtics died by the three.
After Al Horford opened the game with a corner three, Boston missed 15 straight, setting the tone for a night where they shot 9/42 from beyond the arc. Following the loss to the Knicks, Bobby Manning and Josue Pavón broke down if the Celtics offense relies too heavily on the three point shot.
“Three point shooting is a big part of who they are,” said Pavón. “When those shots aren’t falling, the offense can get really stagnant, especially when you don’t have one of your All-Stars out there in Jaylen Brown.”
Multiple Celtics players said they played a good game and just couldn’t get their open looks to go down, but the inability to hit shots puts extra pressure on the defense and prevents the offense from getting into a rhythm.
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‘They overall kept leaning into the three point shot, and it never arrived,” said Manning. “This is my big worry, something like this happening in a playoff game.”
A big issue with the offense is the inability to adjust when shots aren’t falling. As yesterday’s game showed, when a strong rim protector like Mitchell Robinson is in the game for the opposing team, Boston can’t get good looks around the basket.
“When teams take the paint away, there aren’t many alternatives to driving and kicking,” said Manning. “Joe Mazzulla said as much. They didn’t want to drive into the brick wall with Mitchell Robinson in there. They kept challenging him and he kept sending them away.”
The Celtics have 20 games left to reestablish themselves at the top of the Eastern Conference and lock in for the playoffs. Last night was an off night, but the team can’t afford too many more of those, especially once the postseason starts.
“They just worry me with the threes,” said Manning. “You can’t come to the podium after you lose a playoff game and say the shots just didn’t fall. You got to have some adjustments, and that’s what we’ll see Joe try to make down the stretch.”