Friday, November 13, 2015

Celtics Look to Stay Afloat Amid Injuries and Shooting Woes

Jae Crowder has been a bright spot, but the Celtics need to get healthy and find some touch beyond the arc.
By Adam Lowenstein (@StatsAdam)

Wednesday was not a very strong night for the Avery Bradley-less Celtics, as they fell back to below .500 by losing to Paul George and the Indiana Pacers for already the second time this season.

In his pink sneakers, George extended his career-long streak of scoring at least 25 points to five games in the Pacers’ 102-91 win on Veterans Day, moving Indiana to 5-4 and dropping Boston to 3-4.

On the first night of the back-to-back, the visiting Celtics defeated the Milwaukee Bucks in front of a small crowd, in spite of some weak 3-point shooting by the green. However, the C’s needed to sink more shots from downtown to win the next night against the Pacers, who were more effective from 3-point land. Tuesday and Wednesday were two of the Celtics’ three worst 3-point shooting nights of the young season.

Although it is a small sample size, when Boston shoots 20.7 percent or worse from 3-point, they are 0-2. While it's already happened twice this year, the C’s shot that poorly from 3-point only twice in their 82 regular season games last season.

Although Isaiah Thomas led all scorers last Wednesday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse with 27 points to go along with his team-high seven assists, Indiana won that contest after the last shot of the game, Bradley’s 26-foot 3-point attempt, did not fall. That game was the first of George’s five consecutive games with 25 or more points.

To add insult to injury, the Brooklyn Nets removed themselves from the short list of winless teams in the 2015-16 season on November 11. If you have been following any of Bill Simmons’ recent tweets, you might have thought that they were going to finish the season 0-82, but Lionel Hollins’ Nets went into Houston and defeated the Rockets to bring their record to 1-7.

The Celtics’ 2016 unprotected first-round draft pick that they acquired from Brooklyn took a bit of a hit with the Nets’ upset victory. The Atlantic Division still owns one winless team in the Philadelphia 76ers, who fell to 0-8 with their loss to the visiting Toronto Raptors on Wednesday.

Although the 8-2 Atlanta Hawks, who are 4-0 on the road this season, will be at TD Garden on Friday, the Celtics get a break on Sunday in Oklahoma City. The C’s will take on the Kevin Durant-less Thunder before completing a back-to-back in Houston the following night. The Rockets have had a confusing 4-4 start to 2015-16 and so have the Dallas Mavericks, who the Celtics will face on November 18.

Not surprisingly, the Celtics also own the Mavericks’ 2016 first-round pick, which is protected from the No. 1 pick through the No. 7 pick. Jae Crowder, whom the Celtics acquired in the trade that brought that first-round pick to Boston, is hoping to pick up the pace (not to confused with the “pace” statistic that the Celtics currently lead the Eastern Conference in).

Crowder had posted 12 points in each of his three games before Wednesday against the Pacers, but foul trouble allowed him to play just 26 minutes in the loss.

The Celtics are crossing their fingers for fewer injuries, as they enter a month-long stretch that includes more than one game every two days. Marcus Smart is working his way back onto the court after his toe injury, and Bradley looks to be day-to-day with a left leg injury.

The Celtics will really need to be healthy for a five-game road trip that spans November and December. In the meantime, they'll play quick homestands and road trips where they'll look to move up the standings.

For more sports coverage, follow Adam Lowenstein on Twitter at @StatsAdam. Statistics used from

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