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It could have been worse. The Celtics could have lost to the worst team in the NBA, instead of barely winning a nailbiter. The looming ignominy of actually losing to Philly seemed to light a fire under the Cs, who stormed back from a double-digit deficit in the 4th period to take this one in the final minute. A collective green "WHEW" was heard all along the upper Eastern seaboard.

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Cs' Off. & Def. Efficiency Ratings vs. PHI – Nov 25 2015:

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Cs’ Offensive Rating for this game = 83.0 (pts scored per 100 possessions) — equivalent to #30 in the NBA this season (the worst offense in the league averages 93.2 pts/100-poss). Luckily for the Celtics, the Sixers' offense dipped even lower — though not by much.
  • Prior to this game, PHI's defense was rated #23 in the league (DefRtg = 107.1) — not great. Versus the Cs, PHI played like the #1 defense in the league, as the numbers lay. (Or rather, the Celtics' offense, by being awful, allowed them to seem that good.)
  • This was one weird, bad game. Get this: BOTH teams' offenses performed worse than the league's worst (#30), and BOTH teams' defenses performed better than the league's best (#1). This almost never happens. The only way to understand it is to realize that this was a meeting of two very bad offenses (right now anyway, for the Cs). Neither team could score much, making them both look statistically terrible offensively, and terrific defensively.

Cs’ Defensive Rating for this game = 79.1 (pts allowed per 100 possessions) — equivalent to the league's #1 defense this season, (and any season in history!). The Celtics were active on D, which certainly helped generate this good rating — but really it was Philly's well-established offensive incompetence that gave the Cs such a good-looking Defensive Rating.
  • Coming into this game, the Sixers' offense was rated #30 in the league (93.2 Off.Rtg.) — dead last. And yet, though PHI's O is usually bad, the Cs made it look much worse, allowing only 79.1 pts (per 100 possessions), much less than their 93.2 average.
  • We can conclude, therefore, that although both offenses were bad, Boston's D made sure that Philly's O was worse, and thereby allowed the Green to win this one.

Pace: Each team had 101 possessions – somewhat faster than the Cs' average of 98.7 prior to the game (#5 in NBA). League average = 96.5.
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Refs: Grade: A-. Observations: There was only 1 really bad call noted. Otherwise, the officiating was good, with a nice, moderate total number of fouls in the game. (This is the second time in a row we've seen good, A-level officiating. That's fairly rare, and worth following.)
  • At 7:45 of the 2nd quarter, a bad foul was called on Sully for allegedly hitting Covington in the act of shooting a three. Replay showed that their legs touched slightly — clearly incidental contact, but ref Nick Buchert (#3) felt compelled to call it anyway. We don't categorize this as fully "egregious" because there was some contact, making it at least possible to call the foul.
  • Mike and Tommy complained about 4 other calls by the officials, 3 that hurt the Cs, 1 that helped. It's interesting to look at one of these: At 7:57 of the third quarter, an offensive 3-second violation was called on Amir. Tommy groaned and said several times that Amir's heel was barely in the paint at the top of the key. There are two big problems with this: (1) Amir was actually in the paint for 6 SECONDS, not just 3, before the whistle blew (and most of the time he was deep in it). (2) If you have competition with rules, then the refs need to FOLLOW THOSE RULES. And we must not complain when they do so — because that way lies total chaos. We want the officials to call every game correctly and fairly. This particular rule is clear: If ANY PART of the body is in the paint, that time counts toward the 3-seconds. End of story. Heel, toe, or gluteus maximus — makes no difference. (And anyway, 6 seconds is ridiculous.)
  • Interestingly, a few seconds after the Amir 3-sec turnover, there was another offensive 3-sec violation called, this time on the Sixers. And Mike Gorman remarked sarcastically how there really are no 'make-up' calls in the NBA, right?! — implying that the second 3-sec call was whistled to make up for the 'bad' Amir call. -- No. No-no-no. TRUTH MATTERS. Amir was clearly guilty of the violation, AND SO WAS NOEL a few seconds later. The end. Two good calls. Way to go, refs.
  • The ONLY thing that should matter when it comes to officiating is THE TRUTH. What actually happened. Neither homerism nor fear of appearing whiny should deter us from the truth. Yeah, yup, yeppers. If only.

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Where do the Cs stand now?

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DEFENSE:
  • Celts' pre-game Def.Rtg. was 100.7 (pts allowed/100-possessions) — #6 in the NBA.
  • After the Sixers game, the Cs' Defensive Rating = 99.2 — ~#5 in the league (as of 11/25). So the Def.Rtg. improved a bit as a result of the PHI game — but as noted, this was more a battle between two weak offenses, than a great achievement by the Cs' D (though the Cs did win because their defense was better).
  • [The Spurs have the league's best Def.Rtg. right now @ 96.0, while the Bucks' D is at the bottom @ 111.4. League average = 104.0. Note: At this stage of the season, positions can still change substantially any night.]

OFFENSE:
  • After the Sixers game, the Cs' Offensive Rating = 103.1 (pts/100-possessions) — ~#19 in the league (as of 11/25-26). [Pre-game it was 104.5: #11.]
  • About a week ago, the offense had pushed its baby toe into the league's Top-10 area. Ancient history now.
  • [Golden State leads the league in Off.Rtg. @ 114.4; PHI is at the bottom with 93.2. League average = 104.0. Note: At this stage of the season, positions can still change substantially any night.]

HOW ARE THEY DOING OVERALL, AND WHAT'S THE TREND?
  • After this game, Cs' Net Rating = +3.9, #9 in the NBA (as of 11/25-26) — up slightly from +3.8 (#9).
  • [Stat Note: Net Rating (aka "Net Efficiency Rating") is a measure of how many more (or fewer) points the Cs scored than their opponents, per 100 possessions (thus eliminating any effect of pace). It's derived by subtracting the Defensive Rating ("DefRtg") from the Offensive Rating ("OffRtg").]
  • The numbers say that the defense is holding up, but the offense is dying on the vine. The Cs are now no longer in elite territory: #5 on D, #19 on O, #9 overall.
  • The general direction of the OARs (Opponent-Adjusted Ratings) is still positive, indicating that the Cs are still, on average, beating expectations (based on opponents' strengths). But the last three games have been negative data points (two of which, BKN & ATL, were extremely negative), and the stats are now threatening to turn negative altogether. Cs need to shore up their sinking offense pronto.
He saved the day.
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Quick Notes:

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  • The bench stunk up TD Garden with their performance in this one. The only 2nd-unit player to hit ANY field goal(s) was Evan Turner, who scored 16 pts rather inefficiently (FG%=eFG%=33%, including 0-3 from deep).
  • Isaiah carried the team on offense with 30 points (4-7 from deep, 11-21 total) plus 6 assists. Bradley was hot to begin the first quarter, then cooled way down.
  • The defense was statistically good, but too much slipped by them, allowing too many easy scores. (Also, Philly hit some critical shots.) But in the end, when they HAD to get stops late in the 4th — the Green did it with relative ease.
  • Whatever happened to that swarming, overpowering defense we saw so much of back when the Cs were climbing the standings? It was beautiful. Probably will be again (because we still see glimpses of it).
  • Worth asking (again): Could it be that Marcus Smart is the spark that lights this team's fire?

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Green Stats runs an analysis after each Celtics game, right here, usually within ~ 1 to 20 hours of the final horn. Note: Some posts will be (much) longer than others.
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Efficiency ratings source for comps: Basketball-reference.com. Misc: RealGM.com

For a brief intro to the advanced stats used here in Green Stats, see: Green Stats: Intro to advanced stats +...

Photo: Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff


Follow DRJ on Twitter @DRJ_CsNStats

DRJ 11/26/2015 12:24:00 AM Edit
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