Last night, the Celtics went out to Milwaukee and flew home with a 99-83 victory in their pocket. Great. And they did it while shooting 44% from the field and only 23% (7-30) from three. That's interesting. How'd that work?
Sometimes, you want to look at the advanced stats to see what happened out there. And other times a closer look at the good old fashioned boxscore tells you everything you need to know.
The biggest reason the Celtics were able to take down the Bucks on a poor shooting night was simple arithmetic. They put up 13 more shots than their opponents. So even though the Bucks shot at a not too dissimilar 41% percent from the floor and made only one less three pointer (on thirteen fewer attempts) than the Celtics, they just didn't get the same number of scoring chances than the C's did.
The Celtics got this advantage by winning two important categories. One: the turnover differential. The Bucks turned the ball over 17 times to the Celtics 12. The C's made that happen by stealing the basketball from the Bucks 11 times, with Jae Crowder and Even Turner leading the way with 4 swipes apiece. And two: offensive rebounding. Amazingly enough, the Celtics had a 14 to 9 advantage in offensive rebounds. Jared Sullinger led the team with 5 offensive boards, and David Lee snatched 4 of his own.
Sure, the Celtics made the most of their trips to the free throw line, shooting 84% (16-19). And yes, the bench was remarkably efficient, shooting 21-35 with assists on 14 of those buckets. But forcing turnovers and getting second chances on the offensive end is huge for a team yet to find it's offensive rhythm. While the Celtics lack of a knock down shooter is an issue, winning the turnover battle and keeping possessions alive on the offensive glass are things the Celtics can do night in and night out thanks to their depth and hustle.
Steals are giving the team opportunities for fast breaks (Celtics had 15 fast break points to the Bucks 11) and the offensive board work helped them edge out the Bucks in the points in the paint category (40-38). These are all beautiful things.
Right now the Celtics lead the league in steals forcing 11.7 per game. Jae Crowder leads the entire league in steals at a ridiculous 3.2/game rate, John Wall is a distant second with 2.4. Last year no team forced more than 10 steals a game. Once the Celtics get Marcus Smart back on the court, there's no reason the C's can't be the league's leading ball hawkers and that will only translate to more high percentage chances on the offensive end.
Photo Credit Associated Press
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Paul Colahan 11/11/2015 11:45:00 AM Tweet Edit