Name of the Game for C's Offense? Avoid Long 2s

CLEVELAND – The name of the game for the Boston Celtics tonight is to avoid attempting long 2-pointers.

Those shots were the bane of their existence during Game 3.

Boston shot 7-for-21 on jumpers that were taken between eight and 24 feet from the basket during Game 3. Those are not the type of shots that Brad Stevens preaches in his offensive system.

Stevens wants Boston’s shot profile to be heavily concentrated in the paint and at the 3-point line. Mid-range and deep mid-range jumpers are not of preference and should be contained to wide-open looks. The Celtics forgot about those rules during Saturday night’s loss, as Al Horford alluded Monday morning.

“I think that at times – we’re a young group, we’re learning – we tend to forget some of the things that make us successful as a group,” Horford said.

Stevens spent the last two days reminding Boston’s young team of what it should avoid during tonight’s Game 4.

The coach’s message was first relayed by Terry Rozier, when he told the media at Monday’s shootaround, “Last game was the most long 2s that we took the whole season.”

Moments later, Celtics.com brought the topic up to Marcus Morris by saying, “Terry just said that you guys took the most…”

And before we could continue, Morris finished the sentence for us: “… long 2s that we’ve taken all season.” The forward then went on to comment on what that trend meant for Boston.

“When we shoot as many long 2s as we did,” said Morris, “that’s basically like we’re settling. We’re settling and not really moving it enough and getting everyone involved.”

It was no surprise, then, that Boston’s offense struggled so badly to score throughout the contest. The Celtics managed only 86 points on the night while tallying a team playoff-low of 16 assists. They shot just 39.2 percent from the field during the game.

With Stevens’ lesson engrained in their minds, the C’s will look to return to their typical offensive structure and shot profile tonight. Morris believes that Horford will be the centerpiece of making that happen.

“Al didn’t shoot the ball one time in the first quarter (of Game 3). That’s like unheard of,” Morris said. “We’ve definitely got to get him the ball early, because he’s a playmaker. He can score the ball and pass and do different things, and we need that from him.”

Horford, for his part, doesn’t want the Celtics to seek him out on offense. He just wants it to happen in the flow of the offense, as it has all season long.

“I think if we play the right way, I feel like the ball will find me,” he Horford. “And I just want guys to go out there and just play the game and just understand that for most of the year, we’ve been playing really good basketball. And when we’re moving the ball and we’re making those passes, it just makes the game easier for everyone.”

Ball movement and pace are what make the game easier for the C’s on offense. Isolation basketball and long 2-pointers, meanwhile, make the game more difficult for them.

That’s one of the key lessons Boston took out of Game 3. The Celtics understand that if they’re going to have any success tonight, they must clean up their shot profile and eliminate long, contested 2s.