Boston Celtics: Lack of shooting is weighing the team down

The Boston Celtics have continued to struggle out of the gate this season. With their most recent loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the books, the Celtics record has now fallen to 7-8 on the season. In fairness, they have spent a good portion of the early stages without one of their top players, Jaylen Brown, but this team should still be winning more games than they are losing.

Truth be told, the beginning of the 2021-22 season feels eerily similar to how last season went for the Celtics. New issues popped up each game, and when one issue got solved, another one would spring up in the next game and result in another demoralizing loss. That’s pretty much been the story of this season so far as well.

Through 15 games, Boston seems to have found their footing defensively. They are 11th in the league in both defensive rating and efficiency, and they would probably be better if not for some initial struggles in the first five or so games. The problem has now shifted to the offensive end of the court, where things are not as pretty.

The Celtics are 23rd in offensive rating and 21st offensive efficiency. Considering the scoring talent on this roster, with the likes of Jayson Tatum, Dennis Schroder, and Brown whenever he finds his way back on the court, that’s just not good enough. The main issue for Boston right now is they are living and dying by the three point shot. Recently though, there hasn’t been a whole lot of living, and a lot more dying, and that needs to fixed now.

The Boston Celtics lack of shooting is weighing them down

Things were supposed to different coming into this season. The Boston Celtics reloaded their roster with veterans who could come in and take some of the pressure off Tatum and Brown on the offensive end of the floor when needed, which is something they just didn’t have at their disposal last season. Yet so far that just hasn’t happened this season.

In fairness, it starts with Tatum, who has looked awful so far to start the season. In fairness, he probably just had one of his better games of the season against the Hawks last night (34 PTS, 9 REB, 5 AST, 12/22 from the field), but that does little to salvage the rest of his play this season. He’s still shooting just 39.6 from the field and 32.5 from three despite averaging the most shot attempts per any player in the league this season.

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Unfortunately, it doesn’t get much better after Tatum. Marcus Smart has been so awful shooting the ball this season (34.6 from the field, and a horrid 26 from behind the arc) that he’s basically just out there to play good defense and pick up an assist every once in awhile. With each passing game, it becomes more and more obvious Smart is not the answer at point guard for this team moving forward.

In fact, pretty much every player’s shooting numbers are down from their previous numbers. Al Horford is shooting a career low 27.8 percent on threes this season. Josh Richardson is at a career low 32.4 percent. Schroder is shooting just 32.8 percent. So while the veterans were expected to come in help address the shooting woes this team faced last season, they have only exacerbated them so far.

The young guys haven’t helped much either. Aaron Nesmith, the supposed three point sniper out of college, is shooting an appalling 17.9 percent from three this season. Payton Pritchard appears lost in just about every aspect of the game, and is shooting just 24 percent from three this season. The only two positives so far are Romeo Langford (45 percent) and Grant Williams (40.8 percent), but they combine for about five threes a game, so that’s not saying much.

As a team, the Boston Celtics are shooting 32.3 percent on three point shots this season, which is good for 26th in the league. They also take 36.5 three point shots per game, which is the 12th highest total in the league. See where the issue is here?

The Celtics coaching staff clearly anticipates this team will hit a solid clip of their three point shots, but so far that hasn’t been the case, and their offense has imploded at times early on in the season. The clear difference between the C’s and the Hawks last night was their three point shooting. The Hawks shot 35.1 percent on threes, while the Celtics shot just 26.1 percent. It’s no surprise Atlanta came out on top.

So unless something turns around soon, it appears that once again, Boston just doesn’t have enough shooting in order for their offensive gameplan to be able to work. You can’t win games when two of your starters in Smart and Horford aren’t even hitting 30 percent of their threes. Horford in particular was expected to help open up the offense as a floor spacing big, but defenses haven’t even had to worry about him shooting threes so far.

It’s just another issue to pile onto an already large stack of them, as the Boston Celtics are seemingly in an endless cycle of despair and frustration. The roster had holes that clearly weren’t addressed coming into the season, and now they are coming back to bite them. Maybe Brown’s return will help alleviate the issue, but that seems unlikely. Until Boston can figure out their three point woes, expect this team to continue to struggle mightily on offense