Celtics' 3-point shooters in Brad Stevens' scheme should be dangerous


Celtics' 3-point shooters in Brad Stevens' scheme should be dangerous

BOSTON – For years, Boston Celtics fans have been wanting to trust the process when it comes to the 3-point shot.

Ever since Brad Stevens arrived as Boston’s head coach in 2013, it has been clear that he wants the 3-point shot to be woven into the fabric of this franchise under his watch. And as fans for years cringed as one 3-point brick after another was launched, having that 3-point mindset has laid the foundation for what looks to be one of the better 3-point shooting teams this season. Because unlike past seasons when they fielded a roster full of guys willing to take them, this season’s squad has more players who can actually make them at a fairly high clip.

Boston’s ability to make 3’s is among the many takeaways for a Celtics team that won all four of their preseason games.

In Boston’s four preseason games – all wins – they took 30.5 attempts from 3-point range per game which ranked 12th in the NBA. More telling is that they made 40.2 percent of those 3’s which ranked fourth in the league. Under Stevens, the Celtics finished 14th (35.9 percent) in the league in three-point percentage. In the three seasons prior to that, Boston finished no better than 27th in the league in three-point percentage (.327, 2015). 

Now you don’t want to put too much stock into how a team or player fares from 3-point line in the preseason, obviously. And the percentages that team’s shoot in the preseason are not necessarily a precursor to how teams will fare in the regular season.

Last season, the only NBA team ranked among the top 10 in both 3-pointers taken and 3-point percentage, was defending NBA champion Golden State.

But it wasn’t the numbers that really stood out for the Celtics from 3-point range.

More impressive was the amount of space that they seemed to have most of the night on those shots, the kind of spacing that’s likely to stick around for most of this upcoming season.

“We really do have a team where it’s like pick-your-poison on offense,” Celtics guard Terry Rozier told NBC Sports Boston recently. “We have some really good shooters who can make it hard, really hard on teams defensively.”

Celtics achieve their biggest offseason goal: Re-signing Marcus Smart

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Celtics achieve their biggest offseason goal: Re-signing Marcus Smart

BOSTON -- Mission accomplished.

The Celtics went into the offseason planning to bring back all their core players from last season’s squad, which came within a victory of getting to the NBA Finals.

The last bit of business is now taken care of with Marcus Smart coming to terms on a four-year, $52 million contract.

A restricted free agent this summer, Smart was unable to secure an offer sheet from another team. The Celtics had maintained all along they would match any offer within a reasonable amount. 

They never put a specific number on how high they would go, but most league executives believed a team would have to sign Smart to an offer sheet of at least $15 million in order for the Celtics to allow him to walk.


Signing Smart solidifies what’s shaping up as one of the deepest backcourts in the NBA. All-Star Kyrie Irving and Jaylen Brown are the starters, with Smart and Terry Rozier coming off the bench.

There were moments during negotiations when Smart was reportedly disappointed and frustrated by the lack of attention the Celtics were paying him through the process. But Boston maintained all along that re-signing him was its No. 1 priority, and that position never changed.

Even when Smart’s return was far from a given, the Celtics still had a roster that was viewed by many as one of the best in the NBA. When LeBron James left Cleveland to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, that instantly catapulted the Celtics to the top of the Eastern Conference. (Story continues below.)


At 1:26 mark: A. Sherrod Blakey, Kyle Draper, Gary Tanguay and Trenni Kusnierek discuss the Smart deal prior to its finalization


Now with Smart set to return, Boston’s position among its Eastern Conference brethren remains strong as ever, even with the Raptors trading for two-way standout Kawhi Leonard.

The Celtics' journey towards the NBA Finals will involve them leaning on a variety of players with a varying amount of strengths and skills. That's why re-signing Smart was so important.

The recipe for postseason success is an unpredictable one; it requires having as much elite versatility on the roster as possible. That's what Smart brings: An ability to impact games when there’s a great need for toughness defensively, which is often in the closing moments of matchups.


That’s why you’ll often find Smart on the floor in close games, regardless of how well or woeful he might be shooting that night.

Because as much as the analytics folks of the world would love to see better numbers by Smart when he’s on the floor, it always comes back to winning games for the 6-foot-4 guard.

And as much of a head-scratcher he may be when it comes to shooting, he never loses sight of the ultimate goal -- winning -- which is why Boston’s quest towards Banner 18 is even more alive and well with his return.


NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Kawhi Leonard finally traded; Marcus Smart back to the Celtics?

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Kawhi Leonard finally traded; Marcus Smart back to the Celtics?

1:26 - Marcus Smart and the Celtics are reportedly finalizing a 4 year contract. A. Sherrod Blakey and Kyle Draper join Gary Tanguay and Trenni Kusnierek to discuss the deal and debate if the Celtics are overpaying for Smart.

6:17 - Kawhi Leonard has finally been traded. The Spurs shipped him to the Raptors in a package centered around DeMar DeRozan. Cedric Maxwell breaks down who got the best end of the deal and if he was surprised Kawhi got sent to Toronto.

11:18 - Darrelle Revis has officially retired from the NFL after 11 seasons, including one season with the Patriots where he won his only Super Bowl ring. Chris Gasper along with Tanguay and Trenni discuss Revis’ legacy.