Raymond Felton is killing the Celtics.
Four games into Boston's series with the Knicks, Felton has eaten the C's up to the tune of 17.8 points, 5.3 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game while shooting 48% from the field and 35% from deep.
While he may not be as dangerous as Carmelo Anthony or J.R. Smith, he's been a thorn in the Celtics side throughout the series, especially in his 27 point Game 4 (which included 16 in the 3rd quarter alone). According to Knicks coach Mike Woodson and forward Kenyon Martin, Felton is the straw that stirs the Knicks proverbial drink, from Amalie Benjamin's article in the Boston Globe.
“He was huge,” Kenyon Martin said. “He was huge in this game for us. Especially missing J.R. [Smith], we needed someone else to make shots for us and he did that for us. Ray is a professional. He’s the ultimate competitor. And that’s what we need from him each and every night.”
Felton finished with 27 points on 10-of-21 shooting, adding 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals.
“He had the great start for us at the beginning of this season, then he got hurt, and we struggled as a team because of it,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “He came back and he’s been playing well ever since.
“He’s had a damn good playoffs so far.”
One of the most interesting aspects of Felton's great play has been that most of the damage has come against Avery Bradley. The same Avery Bradley that garnered some support in the defensive player of the year voting despite missing nearly half the season.
Bradley has struggled in the series, both on offense (6.5 PPG, 1.8 APG, 37% shooting) and in guarding Felton. It's been a bit perplexing that Bradley has had so much trouble with the chubby point guard from New York after playing so well against more elite competition throughout the season, but one thing is for sure—if the Celtics are going to win Game 5—they'll need a better game from AB.
While Bradley has lost his one-on-one battle with Felton, he's actually been quite good on defense against the rest of the Knicks and the Celtics defense as a whole has still been better when the third year guard out of Texas is on the floor.
In the 142 minutes that Bradley has played in the series, the Celtics have allowed 0.968 points per possession, an elite number. When Bradley goes to the bench that number swells all the way up to 1.078 PPP which would rank among the worst in the league over the course of a full season.
Unfortunately Bradley has had the exact opposite effect on the C's offense, as Boston has averaged a meager 0.886 PPP when he's played (which would be the lowest total of all-time..for real) and 0.98 PPP when he's sitting on the bench.
What's it all mean? Well with Rajon Rondo out of commission the Celts have turned to Bradley as their lead guard and while he may not be handling the majority of the point guard duties, he's playing the most minutes at the position and the team needs more out of him if they're going to force a Game 6 in Boston on Friday night.
He needs to better against Felton and he needs to provide something (anything) on the offensive end. No one is expecting him to fill Rondo's shoes but he'll need to better than he's been for Boston to have a shot.
Bradley's on/off splits from basketball reference
Follow Mike on twitter - Mike_Dyer13 Michael Dyer 4/29/2013 09:36:00 PM Tweet