So much for all the good will engendered on Opening Night.
The Celtics were crushed by the Houston Rockets 104-90 on Saturday night in the Rockets' home opener. They fell behind early, trailed by 15 after one quarter and never, ever really got into any kind of rhythm. There was little defensive intensity or aggressiveness and no flow on offense as the Celts seemed to sleepwalk through the opening minutes and the Rockets ran circles around them. Houston was sharp from outside and lived at the free throw line all night, getting there 40 times to just 18 for the Celts. It was so bad that at halftime, the Rockets were 22-for-24 at the stripe while the Celts were just (gulp) 2-for-3. And James Harden, one of the Rockets' pair of superstars, ripped them to the tune of 26 points (14-for-14 from the line), eight rebounds, six assists, four steals and a block.
But of all the ways the Celtics lost this game, their total ineptitude from the three-point line did them in most. Boston finished an unfathomable 1-for-25 from deep, missing their first 21 three-pointers before Jeff Green connected with 4:10 left to play and the game well out of reach. Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley combined to finish 0-for-9 from long range and Green missed six to go with the one he did make. It was a franchise record for futility from long range.
For a team like the Celtics, who don't have a lot of size and will have trouble scoring in the paint on a lot of nights, being even average from the perimeter is crucial. If the C's even make, say four or five of their 25 three-pointers, this is a completely different game. Clearly, Celts' coach Brad Stevens agreed.
Brad Stevens on Celtics 3-pt shooting (finished with one make): "Hey, if we throw in five 3s instead of one, it's a totally different game."— Boston Celtics (@celtics) November 2, 2014
Now granted, that's hardly an average percentage. But when the Rockets inevitably came down from their hot start, the Celts couldn't respond. After making 50 percent of their field goal attempts in Wednesday night's win over the Nets, they crashed back to earth with only a 38 percent success rate in this game.
Former C's coach Doc Rivers always said that the NBA is a make-miss league. After their first two games, no one embodies that truth more than the Celtics.