Last season, the Celtics were the fourth-worst team in the league in three-point shooting, connecting on just 32.7 percent of their shots from behind the arc. Those problems carried over in a big way to their lone playoff series, against the Cavaliers, where they shot an atrocious 25.6 percent from deep, by far the worst of any postseason team.
Coming into 2015-16, there was hope for an improvement, but the Celts have actually been worse through their first four games, as they've stumbled to a 1-3 start. Boston's three-point shooting percentage is currently at 29.2 percent, and it's hard to find a player on the roster who hasn't been awful.
Avery Bradley has been the Celtics' best shooter, and his 35 percent accuracy places him in a tie for 64th among qualified players leaguewide. Isaiah Thomas (31.8) and Marcus Smart (31.3), are the only other backcourt players hitting better than 30 percent. All three are averaging at least five attempts per game. Particularly ice cold has been Kelly Olynyk, who has started the season at 1-for-10.
There is reason to believe they will improve. Most Celtics are shooting well below their career averages: 34.1 percent for Olynyk, 33.3 for Smart, 36.2 for Thomas, to name a few. Moreover, Boston is not the only team that has struggled out of the gate. Far from it, in fact.
Despite shooting 3.5 percentage points worse than last season, the Celtics are tied for 24th in the NBA in that category. Eight teams are shooting under 30 percent to this point, whereas last year the worst three-point team in the league, Charlotte, finished at 31.8. Among the bottom eight right now are a combination of lottery-bound teams (76ers, Lakers, Nets, Timberwolves) and playoff and even championship contenders (Clippers, Grizzlies, Rockets). In other words, it's not time to panic just yet.
As Smart said following Wednesday's loss in Indiana (via MassLive.com's Jay King):
We shot it horrible. Everyone knows it. The coaches know it. The players know it. The world knows it. We understand we have to get better and knock down shots.
All the evidence suggests that they will get better. The question is whether they'll get good enough to meet preseason expectations.
Follow Nick García on Twitter @N_A_Garcia
Photo credit: Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images Nick García 11/06/2015 10:14:00 AM Tweet Edit