Celtics

Celtics takeaways: Poor 3-point shooting dooms C's in 2OT loss to Wizards

Celtics

For the second time this week, the Washington Wizards made clutch shots and got enough stops on defense late in the game to beat the Boston Celtics.

After earning a 116-107 victory in Boston on Wednesday, the Wizards outlasted the Celtics in a 115-112 double overtime win Saturday night at Capital One Center. The Celtics made only one of their last 13 shots over the final 8:28 of the game.

The Wizards improve to 5-1 and continue to be one of the surprise teams of the early NBA season. The Celtics, meanwhile, drop to 2-4 with the loss. 

The Celtics have now played five overtime periods in six games, including two double-OT matchups. They played four overtime periods all of last season.

Next up for the Celtics is a matchup against the Chicago Bulls at TD Garden on Monday night.

Here are five takeaways from Celtics-Wizards.

1) Poor execution late in games is a concern

The Celtics did not get enough quality looks at the basket and failed to take care of the ball late in the second overtime period. The C's had four possessions over the final 1:16 of the game and all of them were hard to watch.

  • Deni Avdija blocks Jayson Tatum's layup (1:16 remaining)
  • Jayson Tatum misses 9-foot shot (46.3)
  • Jayson Tatum turnover (17.0)
  • Jaylen Brown loses the ball (0.2)

Here's a breakdown of the final 8:28 of the game:

The final possession was particularly bad. Dennis Schroder dribbled for several seconds trying to find an open teammate or get his own shot and couldn't accomplish either one. He finally passed to Jaylen Brown, who was stripped by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to seal Washington's win.

 

Poor execution in clutch moments has hurt the Celtics often through the first six games. Whether it's bad spacing, settling for contested 3-pointers or committing turnovers, there are too many little mistakes being made at the end of these games.

2) Jaylen Brown's hot start continues

Brown was arguably the best player on the court Saturday night, scoring a team-high 34 points on 14-for-24 shooting (6-for-7 at the free throw line), along with six rebounds.

The 24-year-old guard scored nine points in the fourth quarter, including two buckets in the final 1:30 of the fourth quarter that put Boston up 103-102 with 20.3 seconds remaining. He did miss a potential buzzer-beater at the end of regulation, though.

Like the rest of his teammates, the 3-point shot wasn't falling for Brown, so he attacked the basket often, and it worked out quite well for him. He scored 25 of his 34 points in the paint or on free throws that resulted from him going to the basket.

Brown is averaging 26.4 points through five games to begin the season, and he's scored 30-plus points three times. Despite having a tougher time recovering after games since his recent bout with COVID, Brown has been very good offensively for the Celtics early on.

3) Celtics ice cold from 3-point range

The Celtics entered this game ranked No. 10 in the league hitting 35 percent of their 3-point shots, and yet they had an enormously difficult time hitting anything from deep against the Wizards.

Boston started out 0-for-20 from beyond the arc and came very close to breaking the record for the most 3-point attempts without a make (22, by the Denver Nuggets in 2012). The C's finally connected from beyond the arc with 8:58 left in the fourth quarter thanks to Payton Pritchard, and they finished 2-for-26 overall.

Overall, the Celtics settled for too many 3-point field goals. They should've been more aggressive in attacking the basket and trying to score at the rim, especially against a Wizards team that doesn't have a ton of quality shot blockers. Brown was one of the few C's players who adopted this mindset.

It's pretty remarkable the Celtics kept the score so close throughout the game despite shooting so poorly on 3-pointers.

4) Harrell an excellent pickup for Wizards

Harrell was one of several players the Wizards acquired from the Lakers as part of the Russell Westbrook trade in the offseason, and he's been a fantastic addition to the team's frontcourt.

After scoring 25 points with 11 rebounds in a win over the Celtics on Wednesday, the veteran center poured in 20 points with 13 rebounds on Saturday night before fouling out in double overtime. Harrell is averaging 19.2 points and 9.4 rebounds per game for the Wizards. He provides more than scoring and rebounding, though -- his energy, especially on the defensive end of the floor, is contagious. The Wizards are a much tougher team when he's on the floor.

Harrell won the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award in 2019-20, and he'll definitely be a strong contender for that trophy again if he continues to tally high double-doubles on a consistent basis. 

 

5) Richardson makes an impact off the bench

Defense is where Richardson is expected to make his most profound impact for the Celtics this season, but he provided some much-needed scoring off the bench versus the Wizards.

The veteran forward scored a season-high 18 points on 7-for-15 shooting in 37 minutes. He also knocked down this clutch 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter to help the C's force overtime.

Bench scoring has been a weakness for the Celtics over the last few seasons, and with 2020 first-round draft picks Aaron Nesmith and Pritchard struggling to begin the 2021-22 campaign, veterans such as Richardson will need to pick up the slack.