Free throw attempts becoming a problem for all Celtics not named Isaiah Thomas
There may be another issue that needs to be added to a growing list of the Celtics early season woes. It seems that consistently getting to the free-throw line has become a major problem for the team as a whole. With every rotational player, excluding point guard Isaiah Thomas, lacking in this area through the first seven games.
#Celtics free throw update: Isaiah Thomas has taken 62 of team's 141 FTs through seven games. No other player has attempted more than 11.— Scott Souza (@Scott_Souza) November 10, 2016
This negative trend from Boston is a bit strange, especially when we take a look back at the numbers from last year. In 2015-16, the Celtics were a middle of the pack free throw shooting team, attempting about 24 per game. Though they were able to separate themselves from opponents by hitting 79% from the line, good enough for sixth-best.
Now, the Celtics are not only the third-worst team at getting to the charity stripe, but they are also the fifth-worst free throw shooters in the league. Up until this point in the season, every one of Boston's opponents have taken nine more free throw attempts per game, making it the worst differential in the entire NBA by a wide margin. Just to make it a little more clear, the C's ranks 28th, 26th, and 30th in these three categories (FTA, FT%, FTA diff).
Let's not forget, if not for I.T. playing at his usual All-Star level, these numbers could be a lot uglier.
A very faint Celtics silver lining: Isaiah Thomas is 35-for-36 at the FT line during the 3-game losing streak. @CelticsLife— Mark Van Deusen (@LucidSportsFan) November 10, 2016
Luckily for the Celtics, their outstanding shooting from the field and beyond the three-point line has been enough to remain somewhat competitive through most contests. Clearly rebounding and defense have been the real killers for them so far. However, its almost inevitable that the C's will experience a rough patch when it comes to knocking down shots. That is why assuring the free points can end up being crucial, especially down the stretch of any close game.
It's unfortunate that this problem won't just go away once Boston gets healthier. Both Al Horford and Jae Crowder fall in with the rest of the team when it comes to getting on the line. Neither have ever been much for drawing contact throughout their careers, hopefully their presence alone will put some added pressure on opposing defenses.
Will coach Brad Stevens emphasize taking the ball to the hoop? Most likely, because settling for to many jump shots can be a dangerous path for any team. And unless the defense starts to pick up, the Celtics cannot afford to struggle on the offensive side of the ball.