Here is why the Celtics are not scoring as well as they should
The Celtics are averaging just 104.3 points per 100 possessions, ranking 27th in the NBA and leading only the Suns, Bulls and Hawks, three teams that have combined for just 10 wins this season.
Boston has remained confident in its approach despite its 9-8 record, with coach Brad Stevens consistently pointing out that the Celtics are getting the open shots they want, but just missing them. Eventually, the belief is, if the execution remains solid, these pro basketball players will start hitting pro basketball jump shots.
“We still haven’t had a game where we’ve just made shots, made shots, you know?” Stevens said Tuesday. “The good news is, in my belief, those times are coming at some point, right? Because we’re due.”
Point guard Terry Rozier echoed Stevens’s sentiment.
“Like coach said, we’re due for a lot of makes that’s coming up,” he said. “So that’s going to happen.”
But there is a chance it’s not quite that simple. Yes, the Celtics are taking a league-leading 28.1 “open” shots per game, classified as having the closest defender within 4-6 feet of the shooter.
But part of the reason these shots are open is because Boston is taking so many jumpers, and those tend to be the shots that are most open, and also go in less frequently than closer opportunities.
The Celtics are attempting a league-leading 18.1 shots per game from the 20-24 foot range, an area that includes the dreaded long 2-point jumper. They are making just 33.2 percent of these, 28th in the league. They also are attempting 9.6 shots per game in the 15-19 foot range — seventh most in the NBA — and making just 39.6 percent of them.
So, yes, Boston probably has had some bad luck and bad bounces so far, but part of the reason it is getting more open shots than most teams is because it is attempting more difficult shots that tend to be more open.
Consider: The Celtics are averaging just 34.2 drives per game, the 28th lowest mark in the NBA. But when they do drive, they have had success, as they have a shooting percentage of 50.6 on these plays, fifth best in the league.
The good news for the Celtics is that they now will begin by far their softest stretch of this season. Of Boston’s next 13 games, only three will come against teams that entered Tuesday night with winning percentages above .412.
They will play the Pelicans (10-7) twice, and the Pistons (8-6) once. The segment includes two games against the Knicks (4-13) and Hawks (3-14) as well as one each against the Cavs (2-13), Suns (3-13) and Bulls (4-13).
Boston will almost certainly pile up some wins during this stretch, but it will be more important to develop an offensive rhythm while doing so. But Rozier, for one, is not alarmed.
“To be honest I think it’s more the people around us that are more frustrated than us,” he said. “I don’t think it’s us. I don’t want to put it on nobody. I don’t want to put it on you guys. I don’t want to put it on the fans, but it’s too many know-it-alls nowadays and I think they’re more frustrated than us.”
The Celtics were initially scheduled for an off day on Tuesday.
But after the loss to the Hornets on Monday, Stevens instead decided to have a short practice that was bookended by a pair of film sessions.
Stevens said he came away encouraged by the loss to Charlotte, even believing that his team played better than it had in its big win over the first-place Raptors on Friday night.
He said his team played well in transition — keyed by the post players running the floor well — and pointed to the team’s 31 assists as evidence of that.
“It was a step in the right direction, which is encouraging,” Stevens said. “But obviously still not where we want to be.”
The biggest issue now, Stevens said, is finding consistency.
Of course, the 2016-17 Celtics started just 13-12, and then closed the season by going 41-17 to finish with 53 wins and earn the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. So there is still plenty of time to fix what is ailing this team.
. . .
Center Al Horford has been listed as probable for Wednesday’s game against the Knicks with a sore knee.
Not including Tuesday night’s game
■ When, where: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., at TD Garden.
■ TV, radio: NBCSB, WROR-FM (105.7)
■ Scoring: Tim Hardaway Jr. 23.9, Enes Kanter 15.5, Trey Burke 12.1.
■ Rebounding: Enes Kanter 11.7, Noah Vonleh 7.9, Damyean Dotson 4.5.
■ Assists: Frank Ntilikina 3.2, Trey Burke 3.2, Tim Hardaway Jr. 2.8.
■ Head to head: This is the second of four meetings. The Knicks lost the first 103-101, in New York Oct. 20.
■ Miscellany: The Knicks lost five straight games by an average margin of 13.2 points . . . Leading scorer Hardaway ranks 14th in the league in scoring average . . . The Knicks are last in the league in team assists per game (18.4).