The Celtics’ main issue in the first two games of their first round series against Atlanta was a simple one in that they simply could not knock down shots. For a team like the Golden State Warriors, knocking down shots is a given. For a workhorse team like the Celtics, if their shots aren’t falling on any given night they’re going to lose.
Making shots from beyond the 3-point stripe is all-important in today’s NBA and the numbers bear out that thought. In the Celtics’ lone stink-bomb of a game in this series, Game 2 last Tuesday, the C’s shot just 5-of-28 from behind the 3-point line.
The Celtics had a quality performance in Game 1 in Atlanta as they lost by just a point, 102-101. In that game they shot 11-of-35 as a team from 3-point territory. In Games 3 and 4, both at TD Garden, the Celtics also sank 11 3-pointers as a team (11-of-32 in Game 3, 11-of-33 in Game 4).
If Jae Crowder can find his shot from deep at some point in this series, and it’s a big “if” at this point, then the Celtics will really be in business. Crowder went just 2-of-9 from 3-point land in Game 4 and 1-of-7 from that distance in Game 3.
The Hawks, who were highly competitive in both of their losses in the series, have been all over the place from beyond the arc in the series. In Game 1 they went 5-of-26, in Game 2 they went 11-of-29, in Game 3 they went 9-of-36 and in Game 4 they went 12-of-43.
The Celtics have done a decent job so far on Hawks’ 3-point specialist Kyle Korver, who has gone 0-for-7, 5-of-9, 5-of-9 and 3-of-9 from deep in the series.
Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk played just four minutes and did not score in Game 4 against Atlanta as he was returning from a right shoulder injury. Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was reluctant to say that Olynyk would receive a more normal workload any time soon.
“I think the bottom line is – we aren’t in a position where if a guy has rust that you’re going to be able to play much, obviously,” Stevens told ESPN. “But if he feels really good and is playing really well then his minutes will certainly expand in that moment. I just felt like, the way that we had played the game before and the fact that he hadn’t played in a week, it was probably better to go with the other guys. We’ll see how he looks tomorrow in shoot-around, we’ll see how he goes through it. But we trust him. He’s had a lot of great moments this year and he does give us the spacing that we need against these guys.”