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Joe Mazzulla on Celtics’ spacing and their historic shooting night

Boston set their franchise record-setting performance from beyond the arc on Saturday night.

Boston Celtics v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

On the second leg of a back-to-back, the Boston Celtics came out strong in a 133-118 win over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Boston was without centers Al Horford (lower back stiffness) and Luke Kornet (personal reasons), but pulled off the road win with their remaining roster. Following Friday night’s win over the Chicago Bulls where Boston shot less three pointers than usual, the Celtics emptied their quiver from beyond the arc in an undeniably historic offensive showing.

The team set a new franchise record for most made threes in a game with an eye-popping 27 makes, and did so on an ultraefficient 27-of-51 from range (52.9%). Every single one of the nine Celtics players that got minutes in New York made at least one three-pointer, the first team to do so in NBA history. With another win, Boston’s record rises to 6-3 on the season as they approach a tough road matchup on Monday night against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Joe Mazzulla was asked about the team’s impressive shooting performance over the Knicks, and how he felt about the team’s shot selection. “For the most part I thought, we shot great threes,” said Mazzulla, “Our guys are getting comfortable with the fact that when we run good offense, and we have good spacing and we read the defense, we’re going to get a great look. I’d say when you’re shooting that volume, there’s going to be some tough ones, but for the most part I think our guys do a great job of shooting the right ones.”

Mazzulla continued, “...because of our spacing, we can get a really good look the majority of the time. Right now, we’re learning what’s a great shot what’s a good shot, and we’re also learning if we miss four in a row, we still have to guard at the other end and we can’t let the offensive result affect our defensive effort. Majority of time, we’re great at that, but we just got to keep working at that.”

When Boston’s offense wavers and their shots aren’t going in, there have been times where their defense has struggled because of it. It’s been something the Celtics have improved at early on this season, but Mazzulla still believes that it’s crucial for the team to keep their composure as opposed to letting their misses dictate their level of effort on the other end of the court. The team also wants to not completely rely on scoring from deep, as it has certainly taken them out of games, especially in Boston’s first game against the Bulls. The team came out the gates strong from deep in that game, relaxed too much, and let go of the rope.

“It’s one of those things,” said Mazzulla on the Celtics starting off the game hot from range. “Same thing happened in Chicago. We hit three or four in a row and then we kind of start to relax and think we’re gonna just hit every one, or we’re going to get an easy one every single time. So it’s just finding that balance of like ‘take the great ones, but when we can get a paint touch, let’s get a paint touch, too.’”

In comparison to the rest of the league, Boston has been one of the most elite shooting teams, and currently lead the NBA in makes (16 3PM), rank second only to Golden State in attempts per game (40.7 3PA/G) and round out the top five for three point shooting percentage (39.3 3P%). While it certainly can’t be the only way the team can or should score, the numbers behind Boston’s high-powered offense in a nine-game sample size look promising. To Mazzulla, it’s no mystery as to why Boston has continued to be an offensive juggernaut so far.

“We have great shooters,” said Mazzulla, “We have great shooters, we have great players. We have guys that can put two on the ball and create. So, when you’re playing a little bit smaller and there’s more space, you got to take the first best shot, and I just think it’s a credit to our guys and that kind of fits our team right now.”

Without Robert Williams and veteran sharpshooter Danilo Gallinari, the Celtics have mustered up one of the league’s deadliest offenses bolstered by a strong bench unit helmed by Malcolm Brogdon. They currently sit at 6-3, with two of their three losses coming in overtime to a red hot Cavaliers team — all of which they’ve done with a new head coach at the helm. Considering all of the late offseason turmoil Boston was put through, they’ve found themselves in an excellent position to do some damage.

The Celtics will face one of their tougher matchups this season on Monday night, where they’ll take on Memphis with tipoff is at 9PM EST.

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