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Message Accepted: Keep on Shooting

Marc D'Amico
Team Reporter and Analyst

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HARTFORD, Conn. – Brad Stevens told them to keep on shooting. They listened.

The Boston Celtics, just 48 hours removed from a 34.1 percent shooting night against Philadelphia, let it fly Wednesday night against New York. The decision paid off to the tune of 106 points and a second consecutive 20-point victory.

“That was hands down the best offensive performance we’ve had in training camp practice, pick-up, (anything),” said Avery Bradley, who shot 5-of-10 from the field and scored 11 points. “Everyone was knocking down shots. It was amazing.”

The performance was particularly amazing considering what we all saw Monday night. Boston’s offense struggled against the Sixers, and two of its most important players, Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk, couldn’t buy a bucket.

Stevens has crafted an offense that relies heavily on those two players being able to score from the perimeter. Monday’s showing was proof of what can happen when they don’t.

Fortunately for the C’s, we saw on Wednesday what can happen when they do. Sullinger and Olynyk combined to shoot 12-of-17 from the floor against the Knicks, including a 6-of-8 performance from long range, while dropping in 35 points. That efficiency helped Boston’s offense hum all night.

“It always helps when everyone’s making shots, but we were definitely executing our plays and our bigs were hitting 3s,” Bradley said. “It’s tough to play a team like that, when everyone’s able to knock down the 3-ball.”

Sullinger and Olynyk weren’t the only Celtics who torched the Nets from downtown. Bradley, Marcus Smart, Marcus Thornton and Phil Pressey all contributed at least one 3-pointer as well, and the team shot a stellar 50 percent from long range as a whole.

Stevens may not have anticipated a shooting performance like that, but he was confident that his team would right the ship. Sullinger shared the message that Stevens relayed to the team following Monday’s poor performance.

“He just says, ‘Those shots are going to fall,’” the big man explained. “’You’ve got to understand there are going to be nights where it’s going to be like that.’”

Stevens’ message was quiet and subtle, much like the coach’s personality: keep on shooting; those shots are going to fall.

His message sank in quickly. The Celtics kept on shooting Wednesday night, and this time around, they also kept on making.