The Celtics found their way again Sunday evening in Denver. Active hands and solid D allowed them to overcome both the Nuggets and the referees' incompetence and walk away with what amounts to a blowout — though it certainly didn't feel that way through most of the game.

The referees were quite 'schizoid' in this one, bouncing from calling every little touch a foul to letting hard slams go unwhistled. The incompetence affected both teams about equally — just bad, bad officiating all around.
  • In case you're wondering, "This is not middle school" is what Brad Stevens said to the refs after one particularly ridiculous whistle (though that call was really no sillier than many others — see the Referees section). Note: You had to see the Boston broadcast to catch this quote.
Meanwhile, Denver's got themselves a big who might look very good in green…. Hmmm. (See Notes section below.)

Here are details on the game, and where the club stands now...


Cs' Off. & Def. Efficiency Ratings vs. Denver – Feb 21 2016:


Cs’ Offensive Rating for this game = 115.0 (pts scored per 100 possessions) — equivalent to the #1 offense in the NBA this season. The shooting was solid, not spectacular. What was great were the 24 turnovers the Cs forced and the 29 points they scored therefrom.
  • Prior to this game, DEN's defense was rated #22 in the league (Def.Rtg. = 108.0) — weak. Note: In their just-prior 15 games, their D has been a little better, reaching ~average at ~#15 in the NBA.
  • Versus the Cs, DEN's D performed at a level equivalent to the NBA's #30 defense (Def.Rtg. = 115.0) — ~worst in the league.
Cs’ Defensive Rating for this game = 96.0 (pts allowed per 100 possessions) — equivalent to the league's #1 defense this season. Active hands.
  • Coming into this game, the Nuggets' offense was rated #19 in the league (Off.Rtg. = 104.9) — not good. Note: In their just-prior 15 games, their O improved to ~#14 in the NBA: average.
  • The Cs' D held DEN's O to a scoring level equivalent to the NBA's #30 offense - worst in the league (Off.Rtg. = 96.0).
Pace: Each team had 105 possessions – faster than the Cs' season average (98.5 – #3 in NBA). League average = 95.6/game. (Note: Pace is usually high when there are a lot of turnovers, since each one creates a new possession. DEN gave up 24 TOs in this game, vs. BOS' 17.)

Referees: Grade: D. Observations: The crew of Mike Callahan (#24), Steve Anderson (#35) and Brent Barnaky (#70) were grossly incompetent almost from the beginning, starting with calling illegal screens like it was going out of style, then reverting to no-calls for a stretch, then destroying the flow of the game in its latter stages by whistling every touch and breath a foul. It was inconsistent random refereeing at its finest. Barnaky was the worst offender, by far; Callahan was second-worst. I don't think those guys knew what they were doing, at all — especially Barnaky.

Why not an "F"? One reason only: at least they were equal-opportunity incompetents. There was no clear bias to one side or the other.
  • The refs called several moving screen violations in the 1st quarter and early 2nd, for some reason — mostly against Denver, and almost all by ref Brent Barnaky. Some were legitimate, others clearly not. They're too numerous and annoying to list, but here's a sample, called on Darrell Arthur at ~1:17 of Q1. (Watch the middle left side of screen.) Note: It's useful to see this to compare to other cases that were not called.
  • At ~11:08 of the 2nd quarter, Jonas Jerebko "lost" the ball near the sideline, but in fact was pushed by Mike Miller and was therefore unable to control the dribble (per replay). No call. Mike Callahan was standing right there. Here's the video clip.
  • At ~2:12 of Q2, Jonas Jerebko was called for a blocking foul on DJ Augustin — which was ridiculous. Augustin put his shoulder down and bulled into Jerebko who was backpedaling as fast as he could. And Mike Callahan thought that was a blocking foul. Smh. I guess it's illegal to defend a drive in the NBA. Here's the video clip. Say Mike... time to retire?
  • At ~0:39 of Q2, Brent Barnaky whistled a foul on Jae Crowder despite no contact between the players. Barnaky must have a very vivid imagination. Here's the video clip.
  • At ~11:26 of the 3rd quarter, Danilo Gallinari drove for a layup and was obviously fouled on the play. No whistle. Why not? How can this be a no-call, if you're whistling so many touch/phantom fouls? The refs seemed to make up their own "rules" as they went in this game — like little children in a playground. No rhyme or reason or logic to it.
  • At ~4:54 of Q3, Brent Barnaky whistled a foul on Will Barton, who was guarding Jae Crowder at the rim. No discernible foul occurred. Here's the video clip.
  • At ~3:44 of Q3, Gallinari was clearly fouled on this shot attempt — no call. Huh? But the moving screen on Arthur (first clip above) was a foul? Are we in Bizarro World?
  • At ~0:59 of Q3, Sullinger was fouled on his layup. It wasn't a hard hit, but it was obviously a foul. No call. Here's the video clip.
  • At ~7:12 of the 4th quarter, Marcus Smart was called for an offensive foul when he drove for a layup and as his arms went up to lay the ball in, Will Barton's face brushed against his elbow. The shooting motion was 100% natural. This was a COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS CALL. Guess who whistled it. Yes, Brent Barnaky. I'm gonna go ahead and guess that Barnaky may be the worst referee in the NBA.
  • Then, at ~6:25 of the 4th, Marcus Smart was obviously fouled hard on his layup — no call. And Brent Barnaky was standing right there. And when Smart raised his hands perhaps wondering why there was no foul call, Barnaky called a technical foul on him. So we see now that the problem wasn't that Barnaky was extra sensitive to fouls in this game. The problem was that he's really, really bad at refereeing.
  • At ~6:12 of Q4, Barnaky decided to pay Smart back by calling this non-existent foul on Marcus. (The Boston broadcast had a closeup replay showing no contact.) It seems Barnaky may be worse than just incompetent.
  • At ~0:43 of Q4, Jordan Mickey got whistled for fouling Emmanuel Mudiay — though there was no significant contact. I'm sure you can guess who called this — in garbage time, no less. Barnaky, of course. Here's the video clip.
Note: The clips linked to here are provided by the NBA. They are not always optimal for viewing the errors referees made. (Why would they be?) You have to see the original broadcast — usually Boston's is best — to get the best views.
Tech Note: NBA clips are finicky and don't work in all browsers. Chrome is good. Javascript must be enabled, ad blockers turned off, etc.
I'm Evan Turner and I'm in Beast Mode

Where do the Celtics stand now?


After the Nuggets game...
  • Offensive Rating = 106.6 — # 9 in NBA.
  • Defensive Rating = 102.5 — # 3 in NBA. (Range: #3–#4 in a tight group.)
  • Net Rating = +4.1 — # 7 in NBA. (Range: #6–#7 in a tight group.)
Note: Ranges are given when the rankings of teams are so close, exact placement is effectively a tossup that can change with every game played.

The Cs got back to their defense-first roots in this Denver game. Good thing too — they've been putting up some weak defensive numbers since ~January 10.
  • Boston's offense has been performing at about the league's #4 level over their last 21 games (that's all games since January 10 — when the offense started breaking out), but their Defensive Rating in that span (106.0) has been equivalent to only ~#17 in the league. They need to get back to the core of who they are — defense first — before the playoffs. Denver was an excellent start.


Notes & Ruminations:

  • Best thing about this game was the return of the Celtics' defense. Welcome back, D. Don't be such a stranger.
  • Scal said at one point that Evan Turner spent a lot of the AS break practicing his corner threes. Hmmm. It's showing… a little, so far. He's 2-3 from deep since the break. Is this another Marcus Smart snow-day shooting transformation? Do the Cs have some magical shooting coach stashed somewhere we don't know about? Time will tell; but so far so good. Btw, Evan also went 6-8 overall in this game, scored 17 pts, and got 9 rebounds and 5 assists. ET in beast mode.
  • Don't know about you, but I thought Nikola Jokic looked really, really good out there. He's listed at 6'10", but looks at least 7' — kid's huge. He's young (21) and knows how to play. Scores with ease inside, and shoots well from anywhere — hitting almost 40% of his threes this season. He's also active and aware on D. This is the kind of guy the Cs are looking for! Oh well. Maybe some other time.
  • Another day, another Jordan Mickey sighting. He didn't do a lot, but he looked good doin it.
    • Waiting for shoes: I just know Danny's cooking something in a back room somewhere. I'm waiting for some shoe to drop. Maybe just a slipper... but something's coming.
      • Teams have until March 1 to sign any free player who's been on another NBA team this season (and have him eligible for the playoffs). The deadline for signing players who have not been on an NBA team this season (foreign, semi-retired, etc.) is the end of the regular season.
    • The road trip ends for the Cs in Minnesota, on back-to-back Monday. Cya then.

    Green Trends is where we analyze the Celtics & identify emerging new trends — before they become obvious. Posts generally run within ~1-20 hours after Cs games.
    Efficiency ratings source for comps: Basketball-reference.com. Misc: RealGM.com. (Note: Our formulas for pace and efficiency ratings are similar to those used by these sites, and most others — just a tad more accurate because we don't ignore team turnovers. NBA.com's numbers will differ, as they use different formulas.)

    For an intro to the advanced stats used in Green Trends (née Green Stats), see: Green Stats: Intro to advanced stats +...

    Photo: Bill Streicher/USA Today

    Follow Green Trends/DRJ on Twitter @DRJ_CsNStats

    DRJ 2/22/2016 01:40:00 AM Edit
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