Although they came out with a win, the Boston Celtics did so in a very uncommon way in the three heavy Joe Mazzulla era.
The Celtics traveled to Memphis for the first game of a back-to-back expecting a reunion with former Celtic Marcus Smart. Smart was unable to partake in the festivities though due to an ankle injury he suffered against the Lakers.
However, in a very Marcus Smart way, he was still effective in a game he didn’t play in. Grizzlies Forward Santi Aldama, who had a stellar 28 point, 12 rebound, and 6 assists performance in this game, said that Smart spoke to the Grizzlies for “10 straight minutes” on facing the Celtics pregame per Bobby Manning of CLNS Media.
Physicality on screens and switches may have been something Marcus mentioned in his pregame lecture. Kristaps Porzingis said that this was something that bothered the Celtics when asked what went into Jayson Tatum only taking one three in the game.
Along with this being the Celtics lowest scoring output of the season (102), they also shot their least amount of threes so far with 31. To put that in perspective in 82 regular season games last season, they shot 31 or less threes in a whopping two games. This win at least sparks some positivity because they were 5-9 last season when they made less than 12 threes.
The only Celtic who was able to consistently get the three ball up in this game was Sam Hauser. Hauser continued his hot streak from behind the arc shooting 5-7 from three. Sam is now at 47.5% from deep on the season and he is 1 of 2 NBA players shooting over 47% on 6 or more attempts per game (Jalen Brunson).
Since the moment Mazzulla took over, he has preached the math game. Three is more than two and if we shoot and make more threes than the other team our likelihood of winning skyrockets.
He did come into this season more open to shot diversity within the team with the additions of Jrue Holiday and Porzingis. He understood that getting Porzingis and Tatum post touches would be essential to their success so eliminating that just because it’s not a three would be foolish. Celtics however, have done a good job this season taking a lot of three pointers and still finding ways to feed Porzingis.
The three point approach took them far last season, but the goal isn’t Conference Finals it’s NBA Finals.
But on a second night of a back-to-back, against a Hornets team that allows the 3rd highest 3 point% and gives up the 4th most point per game overall, the Celtics will more likely than not get back to their three point shooting style.
And beware of Tatum, who is coming off a pedestrian 20 point one three attempt game, in any contest vs. Charlotte. In four meetings last year against them, Tatum averaged 40 points and 6.2 rebounds, while shooting 40% from three on 12.5 attempts.
Next Game : Saturday November 20th, Vs. Charlotte Hornets
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