Friday, November 2, 2018

Celtics Hit Franchise-Record 24 Threes

The Milwaukee Bucks may lead the NBA in three-point shooting (14.5 3PM/game), but the Celtics beat them at their own game in a 117-113 victory last night.

Boston drilled a franchise-record 24 triples to go along with a franchise-record 55 (43.6%) attempts. Their previous record had been just 19.

Kyrie Irving was the facilitator and driving force of the offense, registering 28 points and seven assists in his best game of the young season.

NBA Getty Images
The Celtics fell just one three-pointer shy of Cleveland's all-time record (25) as Brad Stevens exploited Milwaukee’s lackluster perimeter defense and refusal to defend Boston’s bigs on pick-and-pop plays.

Stevens, who unearths and attacks opponents’ weakest defenders, took advantage of the slow-footed Brook Lopez last night.

Al Horford (6’10”) and Marcus Morris (6’9”) collectively scored 35 points and converted 9-19 shots from beyond the arc, making Milwaukee's biggest offseason acquisition into nothing more than a defensive liability.

Lopez finished with just two points in 23 minutes while his notoriously weak rebounding and ineffective shot-blocking abilities noticeably hurt the Bucks' defense whenever Irving penetrated inside and found Horford wide open on the perimeter.

Boston's relentless pick-and-roll offense exposed Milwaukee's poor defensive switchability as Lopez awkwardly lumbered around and failed to protect the three-point line. As Irving told reporters after the game,
“Al is a capable shooter that I have the utmost confidence in. I feel like if they’re going to play that type of defense we should just shoot it every time. At one point, I think Brook (Lopez) and John Henson were in the paint... I hope we shoot 80 next game if they play defense like that.”
The Celtics improved to 6-2 as Mike Budenholzer’s Bucks (7-1) suffered their first loss of the season. Stevens, like Irving, was confident about his team’s 55 three-point attempts.
"Since the second half of the OKC game, we've played pretty good offensively... We've gotten good shots. We've generated good ones. Tonight, we didn't settle as much. We still had some possessions we'd like to have back, but I thought that we took what the defense gave us."
Irving and Gordon Hayward both looked terrific as they continue recovering from last season’s injuries. Irving is nearly back to form, utilizing elite quickness and incredible ball handling skills to break down defenses.

Hayward still looks uncomfortable at times, but he’s improving every game and last night contributed season-highs of 18 points and five assists.
What makes the win even more impressive is that the Celtics were without Jaylen Brown, one of their best defenders. Semi Ojeleye stepped up with 10 points, five rebounds, two steals and all-around terrific defense in his first start of the season.

Meanwhile, Morris has scored 118 points off the bench through eight games, which is the highest scoring output of any Celtics’ bench player since Dino Radja in the 1993-94 season.

Last night’s win was huge for Boston’s confidence as the team grows more comfortable playing alongside one another.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was easily the best player on the court, but the “Greek Freak” and his undefeated Bucks were exposed and outplayed by a team that was ultimately without one of their best players in Brown.

The Celtics have rolled to four straight wins since they started having fun in the second half in OKC. So while the Bucks and Toronto Raptors each have just one loss under their new head coaches, look for the Celtics and their #1 ranked defense to surge to the top of the Eastern Conference standings in November.

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

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