It’s been awhile since the Celtics have taken so many threes and have done so this successfully. Since starting off the season chucking up threes as a team like nobody’s business and seemingly failing every single time, things have taken a sharp turn in the complete opposite direction for the C’s. When I say that everyone is shooting and making threes, I mean everyone is shooting and making threes.
Let’s take Al Horford, for example. He’s a legit pick-and-roll threat on the court, can truly stretch the floor, and not to mention, pretty damn clutch from behind the arc when he needs to be. Horford essentially sealed the W on Friday night against the 76ers with a late 3. This has rubbed off on the majority of his teammates, such as Isaiah Thomas. The Little Guy applies pressure from all over the court, and is dangerous from just about anywhere, even moreso from 3; as of late, at least. Avery Bradley is feeling himself, too, though he’s currently on the mend with a strained achilles. Both AB and Jae Crowder are serious knock-down shooters, and it’s a sight to see. Even guys like Amir Johnson, who seldom attempts a three and when he does, it takes him weeks to find any sort of groove, is on a roll right now. Kelly Olynyk is in the same boat, as well. He’ll more often than not shoot a three and miss, but lately, he’s been hitting those shots he’d typically miss.
Olynyk put it perfectly on Friday night, “more contagious than the flu, which is pretty contagious.” The flu has victimized a good handful of Celtics players since the start of the new year. “When guys are knocking down 3’s and making extra passes, you feed off of that as an offense.” To have a wide variety of guys of all sizes making such shots and as frequently as they have is more than ideal. You can do just about anything you want and it makes the offense that much more dynamic, as these last few games have shown.
Some of the numbers that they’ve put up and the history that this Celtics team has made over the last four games is astounding. Let’s look at the history. On Friday night against Philly, the C’s knocked down a franchise-record 19 threes, breaking their previous record of 17 (most recently being done on December 30 against Miami). The very next night, Saturday against the Pelicans, the Celtics then made 19 threes again. That’s plain incredible. Considering a team’s history like the Boston Celtics’, it’s crazy. Seriously, just imagine Larry Bird in today’s NBA...holy crap.
Let’s get to some of the numbers. I’m sure that there’s a ton more of absurd stats that I could throw at you here, but these few will do a solid job of showing not just how many threes Boston are taking, but how many they’re making, which is quite a lot.
First off, the Celtics are currently top-10 in the league in 3-point shooting percentage this season, at 36.5%, good for ninth in the NBA. Given how today’s league is changing and how many “super teams” there are that live by the 3, that’s damn good. I can’t say that I expected to read that stat, say two weeks ago.
Over their last four games, the Celtics have made 71 3-pointers. That’s 17.6 per game. Again, the Celtics made franchise history within one single day by making 19 threes in a game, and the same again about 21 or so hours later. It’s safe to say that somewhere along the way, somehow, something clicked with this team. This obviously isn’t necessarily sustainable, but it’s great to watch for the time being.
*Side note, these“ last four games” have been four straight wins. That’s telling.
The Celtics have shot 47.5% or better in their last four games. Along with that, they are only the second team ever to make 17 or more threes in three straight regular season games, most recently done by the Houston Rockets just last month. That speaks volumes to how the league is adapting to such play and how the C’s supposedly recognize that, right now, at least. Like I said, this probably won’t last too long as this team currently is, but it’s fun nonetheless.
As one could take away from those numbers, nobody on the Celtics is passing up a shot at a 3-pointer, which isn’t a bad thing now that they’re actually knocking them down. To have some bigs that can shoot in a league going smaller and smaller, now is the perfect time to get hot in this department. How will the team perform when they’re not draining threes consistently, who knows. Boston are a three-point factory, and when that factory starts to shut down, things may not go so hot. They’ve won a few of their most recent games single handedly by their threes. Without certain shots behind the arc, they might not be riding a four game win streak.
Even though Avery Bradley is out tomorrow night against the Raptors, the C’s did show that they can knock down those threes even without AB. In their next few games, Boston will face the Raptors, who are currently just ahead of the Celtics at second place in the East, and then the Wizards, Hawks, Hornets, and Knicks, all good tests for the Celtics. Who knows if they’ll keep this otherworldly play up or nosedive from here on out. Being a team like the Celtics, not the Warriors or the Cavs nor the Nets or the 76ers, making a name for yourself is difficult. I just hope that they don’t force this three-pointer thing to continue if it ends up not working sooner or later. Only time will tell.