NBA's final undefeated team falls as Celtics nearly set NBA 3-point record in win over Bucks

Three days after Klay Thompson set the NBA record for most 3-pointers by a player in a single game, the Boston Celtics nearly set the record for a team. And they did it against some pretty quality competition as well.

Facing the NBA’s final undefeated team in the 7-0 Milwaukee Bucks, the Celtics won 117-113 and made a franchise-record 24 3-pointers along the way, one short of the NBA record set by the Cleveland Cavaliers last season.

Six different players had multiple 3-pointers made for the Celtics, including all five starters. Kyrie Irving’s 28 points on 10-of-20 shooting and 6-of-12 from deep topped the scoring for Boston, while Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 33 points paced the Bucks. The Celtics were also without starting forward Jaylen Brown, who was out with a sore foot.

Kyrie Irving led the way for the Celtics. (Getty Images)
Kyrie Irving led the way for the Celtics. (Getty Images)

Celtics come close to setting NBA record

For a few minutes during the game, the Celtics seemed like a great bet to surpass, or at least tie, the Cavaliers’ 3-point record. Gordon Hayward made the team’s 24th 3-pointer with 5:24 left in the fourth quarter, plenty of time for a team to connect twice from deep. After all, the team had been averaging a 3-pointer once every minute and 46 seconds up to that point.

Instead, the Celtics missed five straight 3-pointers to end the game, a span of time in which the team’s 10-point lead evaporated to one point with 12 seconds remaining.

The Celtics eventually pulled it out thanks to some odd late-game decisions by the Bucks, but their shot at history had dried up. They had attempted 92 shots in the entire game, 55 of them from deep.

Bucks’ 3-point defense not too impressive

After the game, the Celtics explained their extraordinarily high volume of 3-point shots as a decision brought on by a Bucks defense that had trouble adjusting, according to The Athletic’s Jay King.

There might be a reason behind the Bucks having trouble with the 3-pointer. The Cavaliers set the NBA regular-season record last season against the Hawks and set the postseason record in the 2016 Eastern Conference semifinals, also with 25 3-pointers and also against the Hawks. The common thread between those two games and tonight: Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer, who previously coached Atlanta.

That’s not to say Budenholzer’s defenses are inherently flawed against the 3-pointer, it really might just be an odd footnote following some particularly hot shooting nights for the Cavaliers and Celtics.

Whatever the reason for the onslaught, the Celtics have now won three straight after their 2-2 start to the season and could be getting back on track to becoming the class of the Eastern Conference.

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