Free throws not the Bedrock of current Celtics offense
It may seem to you that the Celtics often shoot fewer free throws than their opponents.
Of course, this can sometime summon up suggestions of a lack of justice and respect from officials. You have undoubtedly heard Tommy Heinson on occasion going into full Fred Flintstone mode bellowing his displeasure to all who would listen.
While it's difficult to prove anti-Celtics bias from officials, there are statistics that confirm a lack of trips to the line. The Celtics do shoot fewer shots from the charity stripe - fewer than most teams in the league.
The Celtics rank 27th in free throws attempts per game this season, the same spot they occupied last season. The Celtics have ranked in the bottom third of the league in free throw attempts per game each of the past five seasons and you'd have to go back to the 2009-10 campaign to find them at the opposite end of the spectrum (10th overall that year).
So what's the answer? Won't it be difficult to win games without the points we can generate with the clock stopped? Not necessarily, Forsberg says:
To be certain, there is no obvious link between free throw attempt rate and success. As an example, the Sacramento Kings are far and away the leader in the NBA in free throw attempt rate (the ratio of free throws generated compared to field goal attempts) at .372 this season and the Kings own the same exact 16-28 record as Boston.
Not convinced of the lack of correlation between free throw attempts and success? Consider the following as well:
The Celtics FTA rate is a meager .224, ranking them 29th overall (only the Knicks are worse at .216). That said, the Golden State Warriors (.250) are in the bottom five overall; the Spurs (.268) are on the cusp of the bottom 10; and the Atlanta Hawks (.281) are middle of the pack. Low free-throw attempt rates are not an insurmountable obstacle for quality teams.
Is Brad Stevens concerned? Perhaps, but not worried:
Celtics coach Brad Stevens has expressed a desire to drive up the team's attempt rate, but also acknowledged that his squad, as currently constituted, is built to generate points in other ways. Boston guards, as a whole, don't create a lot of dribble penetration.
The argument could be offered that Boston guards do not penetrate the lane for fear that, with their lack of experience and NBA credibility, they may not get calls.
We can all rest in the knowledge, though, that it may not be as much of a game changer as we once thought if squads like the Warriors are finding offensive success in other ways.
In the meantime, our best hope may be Smart getting fouled on his contested three-point attempts.