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Celtics' 3-point shooting woes continue in preseason loss to Nets

/ by Justin Leger
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The Boston Celtics are on to the regular season as they wrapped up their two-game preseason Friday night with a 113-89 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

The game marked Kyrie Irving's long-awaited return to TD Garden, and he played well against his former team tallying 17 points on 7-for-15 shooting. Kevin Durant added 25 in his second game back from the Achilles injury that sidelined him for all of the 2019-20 season.

It wouldn't be a preseason game if we didn't overreact to every little thing that happened, so here are three instant overreactions to the C's loss as they prepare for their Dec. 23 regular-season opener vs. the Milwaukee Bucks.

1. Celtics' 3-point shooting is abysmal.

The Celtics struggled mightily from 3-point range in their preseason opener vs. the Philadelphia 76ers (28.2 percent), so how did they respond on Friday night? With an even worse performance from beyond the arc.

Boston finished 8-for-45 (17.8 percent) from downtown vs. Brooklyn (yes, you read that correctly). Jayson Tatum was 2-for-9, Jaylen Brown was 1-for-7, and Marcus Smart was 1-for-6. That isn't going to get the job done.

Fortunately, we know this won't be a trend for the Celtics' stars, but it would've been nice to see more from the second unit (4-for-21). Regardless, we shouldn't be worried about such a small sample of games that don't matter.

The Celtics should be just fine in the 3-point department this season. At least, not this bad...

Verdict: Overreaction

2. The Nets are the team to beat in the East.

Brooklyn obviously is a team to watch out for in 2021 as long as Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant stay healthy. The duo certainly made its mark in Friday night's game as Durant tallied 25 points and Irving added 17 of his own.

 

Will the Nets be better than last season? Obviously. But the "team to beat" label still belongs to Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks when it comes to the Eastern Conference. Brooklyn still has to prove it can sustain its excellence through the regular season before we can put it in the same class as Milwaukee and the rest of the East's juggernauts.

We wouldn't be surprised if the Nets are atop the East at some point this season, but we aren't about to be swayed by a 24-point preseason win. Are they a team to beat? For sure. The team? Eh, we'll see.

Verdict: Slight overreaction

3. C's bench scoring is still a problem.

The Celtics' second unit often failed to provide much of a spark last season. The hope this year is that the acquisitions of veteran Jeff Teague and rookies Aaron Nesmith and Payton Pritchard will help remedy that issue.

Following a preseason opener vs. the 76ers that saw Teague drop 18 points and Pritchard put up 16, the two crashed back down to earth on Friday night shooting a combined 4-for-15. The rest of the C's bench didn't make much of an impact until garbage time in the fourth quarter with the team already down 20-plus points.

Boston will need much more from its second unit if it's going to be a contender in 2021. Especially while the team is without Kemba Walker to begin the season.

Verdict: Not an overreaction.

The Celtics' regular-season opener vs. the Bucks is set to tip off at 7:30 p.m. ET on Dec. 23.