The Boston Celtics limp into Oakland for a back to back against the Golden State Warriors and then the Portland Trail Blazers. The Warriors are one of the hottest teams in the league. They just had a ten game win streak snapped on Wednesday night against the Brooklyn Nets. They are also returning home after a seven game road trip that concluded with a stellar 6-1 record.
The Portland Trail Blazers were the toast of the league for the first 30 games, but have cooled somewhat in their last ten games.
What do both these team have in common? Other than having more talent than the Boston Celtics, they have an affinity for shooting three-pointers. They love them more than Miley Cyrus loves herself. And that's a lot.
The Warriors and Blazers are the first and third best teams shooting threes in the league. The Warriors are shooting 38.8% and the Blazers are shooting 39.5%. The Celtics are one of the best teams at defending the three pointer. Allowing opponents to shoot only 33.7% from behind the arc this season.
Recently, the Celtics have slipped defending the three. One could also argue that the Celtics ran into buzzsaws in Denver and Oklahoma City. Denver made 14-31 threes in their blowout of the Celtics. The Oklahoma City Thunder made 9-19. That's 23-50 in the last two games. Some quick math makes that 46% from downtown.
Combined, the Warriors and Blazers shoot an average of 50 threes a game. So over the next two games the Celtics will face the same amount of three that they faced in their last two. Bombs away.
The Celtics will have to defend some very talented three point shooters in the next two games. 5 of the top 38 players reside on these two teams (we have to dig as far as 38 because Steph Curry is really good, but only ranked 38.).
Jordan Crawford will have his hands full with Steph Curry and Damien Lillard on back-to-back nights. The amount of points the Celtics have given up in their last three games: 119, 129, 111 is staggering. They had been a pretty cohesive defensive unit until this trip.
Defense is all about hussle and effort. If a few players are not invested in making stops them it makes it hard on everyone else.
If the Celtics continue to give up this many points then we might have to start listening more to Gerald Wallace and the things he has to say about his teammates walking the walk and not just talking the talk.
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