BOSTON — While the Boston Celtics may be on to the next game at Indiana on Saturday, we’re going to take a minute or two and unpack what happened Thursday night in Boston’s 117-113 win over previously undefeated Milwaukee.
They did more than just hand the Bucks their first real setback of the season.
They did it in historic fashion, knocking down a franchise-record 24 three-pointers.
Following the game, players talked about how all they did was take what the defense gave them and fortunately, they knocked down a ton of shots in the process.
But there was so much more going on with the Celtics having a night like no other when it came to hitting the deep ball.
Here are the five key factors in Boston’s historic night shooting the ball from 3-point range.
MAKING THE RIGHT PASS
While Boston has some guys who can create their own shots, it’s not a team strength which is evident by them averaging 0.80 points per possession this season out of isolation plays, which ranks 21st in the NBA according to NBA.com/stats.
So the success of last night shooting the ball was fueled heavily by the pass which, no surprise here, was more prevalent on Thursday night than we had seen this season.
Boston averages 297.3 passes per game. In the win over Milwaukee, that number was up to 328 which speaks to how the ball was hopping all game.
Basketball purists have come to believe that working the ball inside and then out is the way to go. It does work to some extent, but like dial-up internet service, not nearly as well as it used to. Teams are bypassing the paint, a common runway towards getting points, to instead let it fly from deep without even taking a whiff of the lane.
We saw that at work on Thursday night when the Celtics had just 11 paint touches. To put that in perspective, the Celtics average 19.5 paint touches per game which, according to NBA.com/stats, ranks 28th in the NBA.
CATCH AND SHOOT
When it comes to scoring, one of the best paths towards generating offense for Boston has come by way of the catch-and-shoot shot. Not even taking Thursday night’s game into account, Boston was already one of the better teams in this particular area of scoring.
For the season, Boston is averaging 35.6 points via the catch-and-shoot, which is tops in the NBA just ahead of the Toronto Raptors (35.5).
On Thursday, Boston’s catch-and-shoot game was more like crush-and-slaughter as they racked up a ridiculously-high 63 points scored.
The pull-up shot is also one that has been good to the Celtics this season. That particular shot has generated 21.3 points per game which ranks 10th in the NBA. On Thursday, the Celtics generated 27 points via the pull-up shot against the Bucks, but you have to put that in perspective to realize how impressive a total that really is; the league’s leader in points per game via pull-up shots is Golden State, who average 29.3 points per game.
CONTESTED DEFENSIVE REBOUND PERCENTAGE
One of the keys to being a strong team offensively and getting great looks from 3-point range is controlling the defensive glass. It allows you to get out on the break quicker and initiate your offense. What we rarely take into account, is that there’s often a battle for those defensive boards that lead to those offensive opportunities at the other end of the floor.
Scoring hasn’t been where the Celtics would want it to be this season despite being one of the league’s better clubs in terms of the percentage of contested defensive rebounds they haul in on a regular basis.
According to NBA.com/stats, the Celtics have a 25.1 contested defensive rebound percentage which ranks third in the NBA, behind Toronto (29.1) and Charlotte (26.7).
Boston’s ability to win this category was indeed a factor in the Celtics’ historic night shooting the ball, with Boston winding up with an impressive 38.2 contested defensive rebound percentage for the game.
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