BOSTON — It was a 3-point party at TD Garden on Thursday night.
The Celtics put on a shooting display against the Bucks, knocking down a franchise record 24 shots from distance to help claim a nail-biting 117-113 win and hand Milwaukee its first loss of the 2018-19 NBA season.
While Boston is more than capable of getting in a sharpshooting groove, Thursday’s performance largely was more about the Bucks than the Celtics themselves. The visitors’ defense around the arc was dreadful, which allowed the C’s to space the floor and find an unusual amount of open shots.
Although 55 3-point attempts might come off as excessive when simply looking at the box score, very few were reckless or forced. The Bucks effectively gift-wrapped the Celtics chance after chance, and the home team took advantage.
“Well, I think — obviously since the second half of the OKC game we’ve played pretty good offensively,” head coach Brad Stevens said. “We’ve gotten good shots. We’ve generated good ones. Tonight, we didn’t settle as much. We still had some possessions we’d like to have back but I thought that we, you know, we took what the defense gave us. We got to the second side of the floor and we found open shooters.”
The C’s launched treys in abundance right from the get-go, something Kyrie Irving (28 points, 6-of-12 from 3-point range) had absolutely no problem with.
“Never,” Irving said when asked if 55 3-point attempts were too many. “Get ’em up. If they’re wide open and they’re gonna play defense like that then I don’t see why not.
“Get ’em up. I hope we shoot 80 next time they play defense like that.”
The Celtics often are capable of finding points regardless of the strength of the opposing defense, but they’re nearly unstoppable when given open space with shooters ready to fire away.
Here are some other notes from Thursday’s Celtics-Bucks game:
— Boston easily broke its previous record of 19 3-pointers made in a single game and it came within one of matching the league record set by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2016-17 season.
— Semi Ojeleye made his first start of the season with Jaylen Brown (foot soreness) sidelined. The second-year forward notched 10 points and five rebounds over 22 minutes and applied solid defensive pressure on Giannis Antetokounmpo.
— All of the Celtics’ starters logged double figures, including 18 points apiece from Gordon Hayward and Al Horford.
— Marcus Morris posted 17 points off the bench. He’s scored at least 15 in each of this last four games.
— The Celtics’ passing was as strong as its shooting, as Boston dished out a season-high 30 assists.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports