BOSTON - The Celtics had a little more success scoring the ball Wednesday night, but after giving up 130 points, that didn't matter much
Defense - not offense - was the reason Boston couldn't roll with the Thunder, but that doesn't mean their offense was anything to write home about.
For the third straight game, Boston struggled to hit shots from deep. They shot just 26.3-percent (5-for-19) from three-point range. Believe it or not, that's an improvement over the last two games.
In Boston's loss to Houston last Friday at the TD Garden, they shot just 25.8-percent from the field (8-for-31). Jae Crowder was 0-for-6 before leaving the game with a high ankle sprain. Avery Bradley was 1-for-8. Marcus Smart couldn't help off the bench in that department either, going 0-for-4.
In Indiana the Celtics were one shot worse from three - 25-percent (8-for-32). This time, Isaiah Thomas got in on the action, missing the mark eight times (3-for-11). Jared Sullinger took four three's and hit one. And again, Smart struggled, this time going 1-for-8.
So it was by no means a surprise to see the C's continue to miss from deep, but it doesn't make it any easier to watch.
Smart's poor three-point shooting goes beyond the last three games. In seven games in March, he's shooting just 15.2-percent (5-for-33) from three-point range. Still, Brad Stevens is OK with Smart taking those shots and didn't have any problems with the ones he took Wednesday night. They just have to fall.
"I thought the looks he got, especially in the first half were all rhythm, for the most part extra-pass opportunities," Stevens said of Smart against the Thunder. "There was one he shot behind the screen but other than that, you have to shoot. You have to be able to knock those in and he’s very capable of that. Especially if you’re gonna be small you have to make shots. That’s the way it goes. I think that we trust him to shoot those and whether it’s the last game we played against them where he hit 5 or this game where he struggles to make them, you have to live with that and you have to make up for it in other areas."
One thing to note is that since Avery Bradley's 1-for-8 night against the Rockets, he's only taken three three-pointers. That's unlike him.
Any shooter will tell you that the only way to bust out of a slump is to keep shooting. Thomas wasn't directing his comments at any one person in particular when it came to the team's shooting woes, but it certainly can apply to a number of players on the team.
"Keep shooting. Figure it out. You’re a pro," Thomas said. "That’s what they pay you to do. Gotta figure it out, gotta keep shooting, and continue to have confidence in yourself because we need those shots to fall for us to be a good team. I think guys’ confidence is still the same, we just have to keep at it. There’s times in the season where this happens, we just gotta keep grinding."
The Celtics will get another chance to shoot themselves out of this three-point slump when they face the Raptors on Friday. Toronto is currently ranked 28th in the NBA in opponent three-point field goal percentage (37.3-percent). They'll also hope Kelly Olynyk has knocked the rust off and can help them out in his hometown.