Maybe it was New Year’s resolutions gone wrong.
Maybe it was the thinnest air at Mile High.
Maybe it was the forty-minute delay after Robert Williams hit an alley-oop lob to double the crooked rim in the fourth quarter.
Whatever it is, he celts The shooting slump that sank part of their December reared its ugly head again in 2023. A 9-for-33 performance from behind the arc sealed Boston’s fate in a 123-111 rout against the Nuggets (who, by On the contrary, they hit seventeen of their thirty three-pointers on Sunday Night).
On the one hand, this happens. Last year, they shot under 27% from 3 in ten games and lost nine of them. Remember the 2 of 26 debacle in DC? This season, the Celtics have lost all five games when they haven’t reached that mark, including last night’s blowout in Denver.
Maybe it wasn’t even Williams’ dunk that dislodged the prop. Bricks can have the same effect.
Many good teams have bad shooting nights. That’s not news. The defending champs are 1-2 on extreme nights. Dallas has also lost all four of its games under 27%. The Bucks went through a shooting routine similar to the one Boston suffered last month and have gone 1-6 in similar games so far. Even Denver, the league’s second-best offense, is 2-3 when shooting below Mendoza’s imaginary line.
It’s hard not to think that the entire loss (Celtics first against Nuggets in the last seven games between the two clubs) hinged on last night’s 3-point shooting discrepancy. eight more Denver does is 24 points. Boston won the turnover differential, allowed only one offensive rebounding against Denver’s largest front court, and outscored the Nuggets 60-46 in points in the paint and 15-3 in second-chance points.
Overall, the Celtics still have the best record in the league and lost to the No. 1 seed in the West on the road, due in large part to a cold shooting night in January. However, for some fans, there is still a suspicion that head coach Joe Mazzulla might want to make some changes to the team’s offensive approach.
Since his return, the favorite question is whether or not Robert Williams should return to the starting lineup. Defensively, his influence is obvious. His size, speed and versatility make him a terror in that free safety role that earned him a Second Team All-Defense nomination last season. Offensively, he’s a willing guard/passer, a vertical spacer to the moon, and a relentless rebounder on the glass. And he doesn’t shoot triples. All but one of his thirty shot attempts have come in the restricted area and he has hit 25 of them.
Whether Williams starts is largely irrelevant really. He’s going to play. How much he plays could rob him of a handful of 3FGA in favor of a few rim-doubling shots from the dunk (sorry, NBA).
In general, the 3-point shot is what this team is made for. Unless President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens is planning to make large-scale changes to the rotation on a 26-11 team, the Boston Celtics are a three-point shooting team and that comes with variation. And while it seems like finding your low is his thing, there is a tendency to watch out for. Boston was never going to hold 40% or more behind the arc all year, but neither was their opponent. in what has been a fortress in the Brad Stevens era, the Celtics have been building those perimeter defenses again. Opponents shot 37.9% of three in October, 34.8% in November and even lower in December with 34.3%.
Sunday was just one of those nights