Celtics’ ‘Aggressive’ Play Style Was Difference-Maker Vs. Lakers

The Celtics had 38 free throw attempts Friday

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November 20, 2021

BOSTON — The Celtics looked like a different team Friday night against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Boston’s offense largely has been built around the three-point shot early on this season and while in some games they have shot the lights out of the gym, they certainly also have put up some clunkers. Friday was different as the Celtics took down the Lakers 130-108 at TD Garden and their aggressiveness around the hoop was one of the biggest reasons why.

The Celtics entered Friday’s bout averaging 36.1 three-point attempts per game but shot just 30 in the win. Celtics head coach Ime Udoka attributed the change of play to attacking matchups they liked before Saturday’s clash with the Oklahoma City Thunder and it certainly paid off. Boston obviously won the game, but also earned a season-high 38 free throws.

“We were very aggressive. If we had a matchup we liked, we didn’t settle and attacked the basket. The numbers showed that 45.5% of our shots are at the rim, probably a season-high for us,” Udoka said. “When we got the matchups we liked, as I mentioned, we penetrated and they showed a lot of attention so we kicked it to guys for wide-open shots so it’s really what I’m yelling half the time is to drive at guys. Teams want to load up.”

Jayson Tatum, Dennis Schröder and Marcus Smart specifically paved with the way for Boston’s all-out attack finishing the night with a combined 80 points.

“To Jayson’s credit he had the matchup we liked and took him to spots we wanted but he also got to the basket. I think looking at the numbers with Dennis and Marcus they had about 26 drives that lead to 11-for-12 field goals for those guys,” Udoka said. “They didn’t settle, also they were aggressive when the Lakers’ downsized and didn’t have a lot of rim protection. We want to continue that and to be aggressive and attack the basket. We had more free throws last night than in a long time.”

It was a good night at TD Garden on Friday, but the Celtics don’t have much time to celebrate the win as they look to take down the Thunder on the second night of the back-to-back.

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