The Boston Celtics couldn’t get out of their own way Monday night.
In a 93-90 loss to the Orlando Magic at TD Garden, the Celtics were an appalling 9-for-40 from 3-point territory.
It looked like multiple players were trying to shoot themselves into a rhythm, even though they weren’t getting hot. That, in turn, ultimately led to heaps of misses from distance with ample time left on the shot clock. Even when there were good looks, the execution wasn’t there.
Gordon Hayward was the team’s most efficient 3-point shooter, going 3-for-5.
The rest? Yikes.
Al Horford (1-for-7), Jaylen Brown (1-for-4), Jayson Tatum (0-for-5), Kyrie Irving (2-for-8), Marcus Smart (1-for-4) and Terry Rozier (1-for-5) all struggled with treys. Guerschon Yabusele and Semi Ojeleye also missed their lone 3-point attempts. It got to the point that Magic defenders were sagging off on 3-point attempts and giving the Celtics a little bit of room to shoot.
That said, head coach Brad Stevens did see a silver lining.
Not to say an October game against the Magic is on the same level as Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, but this is exactly what the Celtics did in that fateful game against the Cleveland Cavaliers last season. They continued chucking possession after possession, hoping someone would get hot, but to no avail.
When that happens, the Celtics make climbing out of deficits an even bigger challenge. It wasn’t until late that the C’s started taking the ball to the rim as a way of clawing closer — and at that point they already had dug themselves a pretty deep hole.
Boston will figure things out, sure, and most nights won’t be this brutal. But the Celtics also need to learn when to start driving instead of heaving when the shots clearly aren’t falling.
Here are some other notes from Monday’s Celtics-Magic game:
— Robert Williams made his NBA debut Monday night, checking in for Brown with 3:53 left in the third. His line on the night ultimately read all zeros, but he did make one play that stood out in the 3:30 he was on the floor.
With just over two minutes to go, he was tasked with guarding Nikola Vucevic, who ended up being the game’s leading scorer. Vucevic tried bodying Williams, but was forced to shoot a turnaround 7-footer, which he missed. After the ball clanked off the rim, Horford fought off Mo Bamba to smack the ball to Williams. The rookie turned and slipped the ball to Irving, who went the length of the floor for a layup, pulling the C’s within eight and forcing Steve Clifford into a timeout.
Though Williams didn’t get much of an opportunity — even with Aron Baynes out — he provided a little bit of energy in the chance he did have.
— Hayward keeps showing more progress.
On a night when the Celtics mostly were uninspired, Hayward didn’t look too bad. He dropped 11 points on 4-for-8 shooting, grabbing four rebounds with three assists and one steal.
Though he’s clearly still knocking some rust off, Hayward seems to be looking more comfortable with each game. He’s showing some flashes of what he’s capable of, and him having a breakout game is starting to feel increasingly imminent.
— Similarly to Hayward, Irving is starting to find his form, as well.
The point guard recorded just five points in the first half, but turned things around in the second, dropping 17. His ability to start taking over a game in the second half was something that led the Celtics to many wins last campaign, and though it didn’t result in a victory against the Magic, the results will start to come as he inevitably keeps trending upward.
— Although Tatum was anemic offensively, scoring just seven points on 3-for-12 shooting, he did help clean the glass.
Tatum grabbed 10 rebounds, eight of which came on the defensive end. After corralling 14 boards in Saturday’s win over the New York Knicks, Tatum for the first time in his career reeled in 10-plus rebounds in back-to-back games.