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Was this game a harbinger of things to come, or
one lucky night? We let the numbers tell the tale...
The Celtics' defense – you know, the one that died not long ago in Indiana – was reborn Friday night at TD Garden in a breakout game against one of the East's best teams. How good were the Cs? Put it this way: They took a team with the league's #12 offense and made it look much worse than the league's worst team. That good.

The Celtics have competed in every game they've played so far. They've lost three, but they were close in each one. Boston fans have felt all along that this team was a lot better than its record, that it was due for a breakout. Well — they broke out. And then some. The numbers are eye-popping (especially the D).....

Cs' Off. & Def. Efficiency Ratings vs. WASH – Nov 6 2015:

Cs’ Offensive Rating for this game = 109.4 (pts scored per 100 possessions) — equivalent to #3 in the NBA so far this season (#6 last season).

    - Wizards had the NBA's #5 defense last season. Prior to this game, they were #12 in the league (with DefRtg = 103.0). The Cs made them look like the NBA's 5th worst defensive team (#26).

Cs’ Defensive Rating for this game = 90.8 (pts allowed per 100 possessions) — equivalent to the league's #1 defense in any season you care to check. AWESOME performance by the Cs' D in this one.

     - WASH's offense last season averaged 103.5 pts/100 possessions, #22 in the NBA. Coming into this game, WASH's offense (103.5 OffRtg) was sitting at #19. I.e., mediocre — despite having one of the league's best backcourt duo in Wall and Beal. So what happened when they played the Cs? Well... they got beat down. Real, real bad. The Cs made the Wizards look like the absolute worst offense in the NBA — this year, last year, any year.

     - Think about how ridiculous these results really are. #3 and #1? Really?? That's amazing. (And keep in mind that this was a game in which the Celtics were expected to struggle. Yeah.)

PACE: Each team had 108 possessions – a fast game. Cs were averaging 100.8 possessions/game prior to this one. The league average is currently 97.6. Note: While it's absolutely true that pace, by itself, does little to help anyone win games, it's also true that sometimes the pace is high because a team hustles all game long. Hustle does win games. The Celtics hustled.
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So where do the Cs stand now?

D:
"Winning is good. Think I'll do it some more."
- Before the Wizards game, the Celtics' Defensive Rating was #11 in the league, at 99.9 pts allowed/100-possessions. (That would have been #1 last season, btw.)
- Now the DefRtg = 98.0 — ~8th best in the league. That is an excellent number; and the direction of change now is positive (for a change).

O:
- The Cs' overall Offensive Rating now stands at 101.4 pts/100-possessions — #19 in the NBA. Prior to the Wiz, they were #22. (The offense was horrible for a few early games, which will slow their ascent somewhat.)

And how are they trending?
- After 3 tough (but competitive) games, the Celtics are finally on the upswing for real. How do we know that? Could this have been an anomaly?

As noted, this was a breakout game by a team that's come close to winning every game they've played this season. And despite how it might have seemed, they did not win this game with their offense. Though the O was certainly good, it was not spectacular. (See Off.Rtg. above.) Nope, the Cs won with their defense — which WAS spectacular. (See Def.Rtg. above.) A team that wins with defense is rarely a flash in the pan.

This does not smell like a flash. Smells like napalm in the morning... aka Victory. Coming again soon.
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 Notes:

- Sully was great. — And I think it's time to say something about this guy, finally.... If Sully wants to be overweight, so be it. If he's capable of putting on performances like he did this game — on both ends of the court — then we should say: "Thank you, Sully" and let him do what he's gotta do. Maybe he won't have any more foot stress fractures. Nobody knows. What we do know is that this kid can play. I say let's quit worrying about his weight and just let the kid play. (I know, I know — easy to say after a night like this. Got it. But still.....)

- Isaiah looked tired in this one. Stevens wisely kept his minutes on the light side.
  • Btw — anyone who tries to bully Isaiah Thomas at TD Garden (or anywhere!) is gonna reap the whirlwind in Beantown. Talkin about you, Mr. Kris Kardashian Humphries. #@*%&*^%
- The Wiz were running the Cs off the court in the first 1.5 minutes of the 1st quarter — and then Brad Stevens said "Whoa!" He took the best timeout of the year (so far) and explained to his team how Washington was focusing squarely and SOLELY on the Celtics' paint area. The team adjusted — and proceeded to turn the tables totally around on WASH. From that point on... it was all she wrote. Great stuff.

- Zeller looked good in extended garbage time. 'Bout time, big fella. (Yes, he got a couple rebounds too.)

- The Cs should keep in mind that the best way to prevent an opponent swatting a layup away is to dunk it.

- The only player who didn't play well was David Lee. Lee worries me. It's not just that he's in a slump. Or that his defense was never very good. It's his instincts. When he turns around for a shot-clock-forced hook shot, he's often completely lost in space. And when he's supposed to guard, he really fouls unnecessarily much too often. Lee just hasn't performed anything like his preseason (or Finals.) Will he finally break out for BOS? Or will he be traded before that happens? I dunno. Could go either way.

- Message for Tommy Heinsohn: Defenders are NOT allowed to slam into a shooter's body when he's shooting. You can't just look at the hands. When you said "Looked like a clean block" after Beal SLAMMED into Thomas' body on a layup -- well -- don't do that, please. Peace, old friend.

- Bottom line: Can the Celtics play like this every game? Not exactly, of course. But they can repeat or get close enough to win a lot more games going forward. This was no surprise to the faithful.

- As always, any questions, opinions, arguments, epithets, tomatoes, eggs, etc. — please feel free to put em in the comments section below!
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(Efficiency ratings source for comps: Basketball-reference.com.)

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


Photo: Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports


Connect with DRJ on Twitter @DRJ_CsNStats

DRJ 11/07/2015 01:12:00 AM Edit
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