The Celtics were probably going to win this one anyway. But while Rondo and Cousins were still out there, anything could happen. Millions of fans were watching to see if Rondo & Boogie could lead the Kings to a comeback.
But... sadly, it was not to be. Referee Bill Kennedy would not tolerate Rajon's yapping, and he threw Rondo out of the game midway through the 3rd quarter — thus effectively ruining the rest of the contest. After that, the game devolved into a morass of ticky-tack whistles and extended garbage time.
Here are details on the game, and where the club stands now...
Cs' Off. & Def. Efficiency Ratings vs. Sacramento – December 3 2015:–––––––––––––––
Cs’ Offensive Rating for this game = 110.8 (pts scored per 100 possessions) — equivalent to the #2 offense in the NBA this season. Another excellent outing for the offense.
- Prior to this game, SAC's defense was rated #26 in the league (DefRtg = 108.2) — fifth worst. But note that 8 of their 19 prior games this season were played without Cousins — and he makes them better on defense as well as offense. It's fair to say, therefore, that the Kings' defense with Cousins is probably better than #26 in the league.
- In any event, versus the Cs, SAC's D performed like the #29 defense in the league (110.8 DefRtg). Truth be told: SAC on defense looked disinterested and lazy.
- Coming into this game, the Kings' offense was rated #9 in the league (105.0 Off.Rtg.): pretty good — certainly ahead of the Cs in the O column. (And again, this is despite missing Cousins in 8/19 contests — meaning: with Cousins on the court, SAC's offense was even better than 105.0/#9 coming into this game.)
- In Mexico City, the Cs' D held SAC's O to a level equivalent to the league's #29 offense (94.3 OffRtg). This is what an elite defense does.
- Good as the final Def.Rtg. is, it was actually MUCH better in the first half, when the Cs still believed they were in a competition. Their Defensive Rating for the first half was 71.7 (pts allowed/100-possessions) — a ridiculously dominant performance.
- The Celtics are capable of dominating any game on the defensive end. That's what makes them the 2nd-best-rated defense in the NBA right now. (See below.)
Refs: Grade: D. Observations: There were no egregiously bad calls noted. Refs get a "D" mostly because of Bill Kennedy. At 6:30 in the 3rd period, Kennedy threw Rondo out of the game with a second tech. For yapping. This single action ruined the game thenceforth, and so earns this crew a near-failing grade. And that's generous. They should have failed altogether.
- We've seen players yap at refs before. If it's a rookie or a some second-tier player, sometimes (rarely) they get thrown out of the game. But a star? It's almost unheard-of for refs to eject a major player just for talking.
- OK, it's true: we don't know what Rondo actually said. Let's assume it wasn't printable. So what? The NBA is in the business of selling its stars to fans. Good refs turn their heads and ignore temporarily-out-of-control ranting stars. Invariably, these episodes end very quickly, as teammates and staff swarm to cover for and control their guy (as also happened in this instance). But Bill Kennedy could not control himself. It seems his pec implants and too-tight shirts are more than just weird affectations: seems they underlie a brittle ego incapable of accepting any slight, even when the cost is millions of fans' disappointment in a game they paid good money to see.
- Nobody — NOBODY pays to watch referees blow whistles. The sooner every official in the league fully understands that, the better this game will be. If Kennedy's ego won't let him control his impulse to throw important players out of games for minor infractions — then get rid of him. There are plenty of very good refs available who know how to do this job the right way.
- At 4:25 in the 2nd quarter, a ball that Collison was dribbling was deflected by Avery Bradley and went out-of-bounds off Collison's leg. It was wrongly called Kings ball (by Bennie Adams (#47)). Also, there were way too many BS ticky-tack fouls called in the 4th quarter, ridiculously delaying a game whose outcome was already certain.
- After 5 well-officiated games in a row, this was a bad one. But there were no egregious calls, and no bias noted. Just a badly managed game. We can live with that — since we have to. I'm just not so sure all the millions of disappointed viewers (and fans at the game) are going to feel the same way.
Where do the Cs stand now?–––––––––––––––
- After the Kings game, the Cs' season Defensive Rating = 98.9 — #2 in the league, as of 12/3. Pre-game it was 99.2: #4.
- [League best Def.Rtg.= Spurs @ 94.1 | Worst= Pelicans @ 111.1 | League average= 103.6.]
- After the Kings game, the Cs' Offensive Rating = 104.1 (pts/100-possessions) — #13 in the league, as of 12/3. Pre-game it was 103.7: #14.
- [League best Off.Rtg.= Warriors @ 115.7 | Worst = Philly @ 93.3 | League average = 103.6.]
- After this game, Cs' Net Rating = +5.2, still #6 in the NBA (as of 12/3) — up from +4.6 (#6).
- [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"), and it is the single best measure we have for gauging overall performance.]
- The numbers say that the defense is going strong as usual, and the offense is in the midst of another turn to the upside right now. A couple more games like MIA or SAC, and the O will be back in the Top-10. Right now, the Cs stand at: #2 on D, #13 on O, #6 overall.
- The general direction of the OARs (Opponent-Adjusted Ratings) remains positive, indicating that the Cs are, on average, beating expectations (based on opponents' strengths), and continuing to improve. They're heading toward elite status again now; they'll get there when the offense convincingly reaches Top-10.
Notes & Ruminations:–––––––––––––––
- With 14 steals and 19 opponent turnovers in this game, the Cs continued their league-leading steal rate of 11.4 steals/game and 11.6% STL% (percentage of opponent possessions that end in a steal) — as well as their league-leading opponent turnover rate of 19.2 TOs/game and 17.2% TOV% (percentage of opponent possessions that end in a TO). They're killing the rest of the league in these two important defensive areas.
- Isaiah OUTJUMPED DEMARCUS COUSINS! — on a long Rondo pass to Boogie in the 1st period! Amazing.
- At one point in the 2nd quarter, David Lee did two silly things in a row: At 8:27 – while on defense, Lee pushed Boogie for no discernible reason at all, and got a foul call for it; then at 7:38 – he missed a WIDE OPEN layup (no defender near him). Sometimes, Lee just makes us wonder....
- Sully took two 28-29-foot threes in the second quarter. Anybody know why? (If you wanna practice doing Steph Curry things, shouldn't you do it in practice?)
- And the mind wanders.... to next Friday, December 11, when the Cs will meet the Warriors at TD Garden. Just prior to that, GSW will face the Pacers, who might well end the win streak at 22. If not, it'll fall to the Green to stop them.
A major key to that game (without question (imo)) will be Isaiah Thomas, and his defense on Stephen Curry in particular. Curry's got 6 inches on Thomas, but that shouldn't matter much as Isaiah will probably be working mostly on the perimeter.
Curry has amazing shooting %s from deep, with or without a defender on him — except under one condition: When a defender is within 2 feet of Steph, his 3pt FG% tumbles to just 22% – per NBA.com's camera-tracking data. (That's the ONLY defensive condition under which he's NOT shooting over 43% from deep!) So Curry can be stopped... sorta. But you gotta be on his body at all times, especially in transition.
Sure, Brad may want to sic Avery on Curry, but that would leave Isaiah guarding 6'7" Klay Thompson — likely creating a bad leak there. So no; Cs have to put their faith in their guy — lb-for-lb, the hardest workin' man in ball biz — Mr IT.
This would be Isaiah's chance to show a stubbornly dubious world how good he can be on the defensive end. Can he get it done? I think yes... just cuz I happen to think Isaiah is one of the very best athletes in the world. But of course, nobody knows. The only thing we (kinda) know for sure is: It's gonna be one helluva game!... we-hope/trust/lord-just-don't-let-it-be-a-blowout.
- Over the next 8 games, the Celtics will face four of the league's best teams: Spurs (up next – Saturday), Bulls, Warriors and Cavs. It's gonna be tough, the toughest stretch of the season. The good news is that when they come out the other side of this gauntlet.... we're going to know what kind of team this is. For reals.
–––––––––––––––––––––––––Green Stats runs 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.
–––––––––––––––––––––––––Efficiency ratings source for comps: Basketball-reference.com. Misc: RealGM.com
For an intro to the advanced stats used here in Green Stats, see: Green Stats: Intro to advanced stats +...
Photo: Matt York/AP
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