After a nice albeit easy win over the lifeless Philadelphia 76ers on opening night, the Boston Celtics find themselves mired in a three-game losing streak. And it’s wearing on them.
Isaiah Thomas, who finally got his wish to join the starting lineup on Wednesday night in Indianapolis thanks to Marcus Smart’s toe injury, is pissed. Avery Bradley flat out said that he doesn’t believe the Celtics “brought it in the first half.” And even though the Celtics are stocked with big men, they were still annihilated on the boards against the Pacers, who grabbed a mind-boggling 21 offensive rebounds.
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But before anyone looks to delve too deeply into any of these issues (painful as that rebounding statistic is), let’s instead examine what appears to be the simplest of all reasons for the team’s malaise.
The Celtics can’t shoot.
Through four games, the Celts are making shots at a 40 percent clip. That’s gross. They are hitting on just 29 percent of their three-point attempts. That’s grosser.
Not a single player even approaches 40 percent from long range, with Bradley leading the way at 35 percent and Thomas in second at 32 percent. These are unsustainable numbers that no amount of hustle, effort or good coaching will be able to mask.
Boston shot 44 percent last season — not a great number but a workable one that’s far better than what they’ve coughed up to this point through four games. They have it in them to shoot a reasonable percentage from the floor. Guys like David Lee, a career 53 percent shooter, aren’t going to wallow around the depths of 35 percent (where Lee sits right this minute) all year long.
And Kelly Olynyk, who continues to float through games without being able to get into any kind of consistent rhythm, will improve on his woeful 1-for-10 start from three-point range regardless of his many limitations.
The Celtics will not be this poor a shooting team for the duration of the season. It seems that what’s required of the Celtics and their fans right now is patience.
And getting up a lot more shots at practice.