NBA Notebook: 5 Celtics trends since the All-Star Break that bear watching

(Adam Richins/Boston Sports Journal)

A look at a few trends of note over the 12 games the Celtics have played since the All-Star Break.

1. Jayson Tatum is shooting 23.3 percent from 3-point range: The 21-year-old forward shocked the NBA world last season by shooting over 43 percent from 3 during his rookie season. However, the Duke product has fallen back down to earth from the perimeter, knocking down just 36 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc in year two, despite a slight uptick in his attempts. The decline has largely been a result of a lengthy slump since the All-Star Break in which Tatum’s long-distance attempts are down (2.7) amid his tough stretch. The good news? Tatum is still shooting 46 percent from the field (above his season average) despite missing plenty from downtown, a sign that his finishing at the rim and midrange is trending sharply upwards. The Celtics are still playing well whenever Tatum is on the floor (+5.2 net rating in past 20 games) so good things happen for Boston usually whenever the emerging star is on the floor. Once he starts hitting from the perimeter again, the Celtics offense should hit a higher level.

2. The Celtics are allowing 108.7 points per 100 possessions: The Celtics are playing better as a team since their much talked about airplane ride out West, yet the team’s defense has collectively remained stuck in neutral since a sluggish start going out of the break. Over the team’s past 12 games, Boston ranks 20th in the NBA in defense and their splits are exactly the same on defense from the 1-5 start over the break and the 5-1 turnaround since the plane ride. The main difference for the C’s has been their offense over that run, which should make righting the defensive ship the main focus for Brad Stevens over the final 12 games of the regular season. Boston’s transition defense against athletic young teams has emerged as a constant issue but after being carved up by the likes of the Hawks and Clippers in the halfcourt as well, it’s looking more and more like the Celtics will have to go deep in the postseason on the strength of their offense rather than defense.