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Staff roundtable: What is wrong with the Boston Celtics?

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The CelticsBlog staff takes a shot at the fundamental question on everyone’s mind.

Boston Celtics v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

You’ve seen this question asked 1,000 times (and that’s just since noon today). We may or may not have all the answers, but we will pretend that we know everything.

Feel free to play along in the comments below!

Jeff Clark

My theory is that the basketball is not going through the hoop often enough. Other than that, I don’t know what to say.

(Yes, I know it is more complicated than that, but a few better shooting nights could have swung the whole mood quite a bit. Though to be fair, if Kawhi hits that shot, the mood is a lot worse.)

The stats say that they are playing top of the league defense but the stats also say that individual stars are having bonkers nights against this defense. Is that a strategic decision or a breakdown in communication and/or execution? Again, if a few more shots go in, none of this matters.

Jack Noonan

The team is relying too much on Gordon Hayward before he is ready to take on the huge amount of minutes he is getting now. His minutes should be cut back a bit. Aron Baynes needs to play more which will have everyone in the roles they were in last year. Hopefully that’ll get the guys in the rhythm of last year.

Sam Sheehan

The Celtics take the fewest shots of any team inside of 8 feet besides the Warriors, who literally have the two greatest shooters ever on their team, as well as one of the three best pure scorers of all time. On top of that, the Celtics are 29th in FTA per game, sandwiched around the Orlando Magic and Phoenix Suns, two teams considerably less talented than the Celtics. Celtics need to attack closeouts more instead of simply hucking shots. (Long look at Jayson Tatum)

Andrew Doxy

It’s a make/miss league and the Celtics are missing open shots instead of making them. Everything else is a symptom. That’s not the only problem with them; that’s just the only one that could literally be fixed over night. They just have to wake up one day and shoot better. I still think they will wake up and shoot better. Until that happens, I’m willing to be patient.

Daniel Poarch

Missing open shots is the disease, and making open shots is the cure. A lot of the Celtics’ issues can be boiled down to that simple fact. Still, there are some other issues at play here, too -- namely that the team just isn’t playing with the kind of effort that would enable them to “win ugly.” You don’t blow a fourth quarter lead against the Hornets -- the basketball franchise equivalent of the Mendoza Line -- just because Kemba Walker went nuts. You blow that lead by allowing them multiple offensive rebounds on the same possession in crunch time, or by being so late on defensive rotations that you make 57-year-old Tony Parker look spry. Last season, the Celtics made their living off of making the right play at the right time, even as their offense was actively crumbling around them. So far this season, they haven’t managed to find that extra gear.

Bill Sy

Nothing. Nothing is wrong with the Celtics. There have been blips of questionable effort, long stretches of cold shooting, and one of the most difficult opening schedules in the league. For me, the bottom line is that I’m confident in Brad Stevens’ vision of what this team can look like in April, May, and June. Guys are going to have to hit open shots when they’re available (and they’ve been available). They’re going to have to be able to defend one-on-one because the Celtics rarely compromise their defense and double. It’s a roster built on versatility and variety where anybody and everybody can contribute on any given night. For seventeen games, the narrative has swung from player to player--Hayward’s improvement/ineffectiveness to Rozier’s rumored unhappiness to Tatum’s mid-range jumbers--and I’m guilt of that, but in the end, we should be concerned with the collective and maybe more importantly, it’s future and not it’s now.

Alex Kungu

My colleagues have already harped on the Celtics inability to hit a shot so to take that a step further I think that part of why that has happened is with new roles for Boston has come new situations in which players are asked to shoot. We’ve seen Tatum battle with shot selection at times in his expanded role, and on the flip side Jaylen Brown has had to deal with a combination of less shots and a different shot profile that has led to an uptick of above the break 3’s and a decrease in corner 3’s meaning he’s getting less shots to find a rhythm while also taking harder shots.

Rhythm for a shooter is just as important if not more important than how open the attempted shots are and I think it has been a reason why Stevens has made some minor tweaks like starting Baynes so the team could a use a lineup guys are more familiar with and sequencing Brown’s minutes with the second unit so he can have a little more freedom to be aggressive. It's been a little troubling that the teams small lineups haven’t automatically clicked right off the bat, but I’m sure that’s not last we’ve seen of it. As guys start to find themselves they’ll be more capable in playing off each other.

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