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A grizzled old sportswriter named Jimmy Breslin once decided to try his hand at some fiction, concocting a tale of some loveable-loser, wanna-be thugs called The Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight.

Was the curmudgeonly native New Yorker “Nostradamusing” the current rendition of the Celtics?

Excepting Game 2’s .533 FG%, Boston’s shooting this series has topped out at 42% in Game 5 (like Game 2, a home victory). Accuracy bottomed out with last night’s .370 effort.

On the flip side, Boston’s second-ranked FG defense (.440 on the season) has already allowed 50+% Buck shooting on four occasions so far.

The opportunistic C’s swiped the first game in OT, and Milwaukee’s 10 missed FT’s squandered their near 60% FG sniping of the following encounter.



Summative Equation:

Bos – 37 Conversions + [+7 “Stripes”] {10 treys “minus” 3 missed FT’s “equals” 7 stripes}
Mil – 48 Conversions + [+0 “Stripes”] {8 treys “minus” 8 missed FT’s “equals” 0 stripes}
Expected Outcome -- -11 Conversions + [+7 Stripes] = C’s lose by 15 points
Actual Score: Boston 86, Milwaukee 97


As a Celtic fan I was hoping, even expecting the boys to complete their Game 4 comeback, win on the road, and finish off a team that is similarly light on Playoff “Been-There-Done-That.”

But from a wider perspective – and while you never want to lose a playoff game – the pressure of an ultimate game is a useful “trial by fire” for the growth and development of a young player and/or young team.

Someone’s gonna be a star – or at least a SportsCenter highlight. (Wouldn’t it be great to see Ojeleye or Yabusele play significant minutes and hustle his way to a key contribution – maybe re-discover the O-boards that turned up missing last night?)


The Algebra of the Game

1st Quarter
FG: C’s – 9 - 20, .450 / Mil – 10 - 19, .526
3FG: C’s – 3 - 9, .333 / Mil – 2 - 5, .400
FT: C’s – 3 - 3, 1.000 [1] / Mil – 0 - 0, .000 [0]
TO: C’s – 2 / Mil – 3
OR: C’s – 1 + 0 (team) / Mil – 0 + 1 (team)
Poss: C’s – 22 / Mil – 21
CV%: C’s – 10 / 22, .455 / Mil – 10 / 21, .476


Astute observation by Celtic legend and TNT colorman Kevin McHale after Terry Rozier passed up a point-blank shot with a kick-out to the three-point stripe: “Lay-ups are gold in the playoffs!”

Did anyone else notice Marcus Smart switch off Khris Middleton at the top of the key on Milwaukee’s final Q1 possession? There was no screen or anything, Middleton hadn’t started his move. Marcus just turned a 6’8” scoring machine over to the littlest guy on the team, Shane Larkin.

Predictably, the Bucks’ stud backed Shane down and scored easily. (I think it’s in a ballplayer’s DNA to want to “back down” a smaller defender.)

I’d like to think there’s a reasonable explanation for such seeming illogic … a little help, please?


2nd Quarter
FG: C’s – 6 - 20, .300 / Mil – 11 - 20, .550
3FG: C’s – 3 - 9, .333 / Mil – 3 - 9, .333
FT: C’s – 0 -0, .000 [0] / Mil – 1 - 2, .500 [1]
TO: C’s – 4 / Mil – 5
OR: C’s – 1 + 0 (team) / Mil – 3 + 0 (team)
Poss: C’s – 23 / Mil – 23
CV%: C’s – 6 / 23, .261 / Mil – 12 / 23, .522


The C’s once again had trouble closing a quarter, coming up empty on nine of their last ten possessions. On one, both Terry Rozier and Greg Monroe managed to “throw up” air-balls.

The consequence? Milwaukee turns a one-point deficit into a nine-point halftime lead.


3rd Quarter
FG: C’s – 7 - 18, .556 / Mil – 9 - 20, .450
3FG: C’s – 2 - 7, .833 / Mil – 2 - 8, .250
FT: C’s – 10 - 11, .667 [5] / Mil – 6 - 9, .667 [4]
TO: C’s – 2 / Mil – 0
OR: C’s – 3 + 0 (team) / Mil – 2 + 0 (team)
Poss: C’s – 22 / Mil – 22
CV%: C’s – 12 / 22, .545 / Mil – 13 / 22, .591


In Q2 & Q3 combined, Milwaukee was successful on 15 of their 23 2FGA’s (.652). Over the same stretch, the C’s missed 14 of their 22 2FGA’s (.364).


4th Quarter
FG: C’s – 8 - 23, .348 / Mil – 16 - 18, .500
3FG: C’s – 2 - 11, .182 / Mil – 1 - 4, .250
FT: C’s – 3 - 5, .600 [1] / Mil – 6 - 10, .600 [5]
TO: C’s – 1 / Mil – 3
OR: C’s – 1 + 1 (team) / Mil – 2 + 0 (team)
Poss: C’s – 23 / Mil – 22
CV%: C’s – 9 / 23, .391 / Mil – 13 / 22, .590


In Q4, both teams made eight FG’s, each team earned two second chances on the O-boards, and Milwaukee committed two more Turnovers.

So how did the Bucks hold off the challenge – and actually win Q4 23 – 21?

By totaling five “Free-Throw Conversions” to Boston’s one.

For the game, the Bucks tallied 10 FT Conversions to Boston’s seven – the first time this series Milwaukee has won that battle.


Full Game
FG: C’s – 30 - 81, .370 / Mil – 38 - 75, .507
3FG: C’s – 10 - 36, .278 / Mil – 8 - 26, .308
FT: C’s – 16 - 19, .842 [7] / Mil – 13 - 21, .619 [10]
TO: C’s – 9 / Mil – 11
OR: C’s – 6 + 1 (team) / Mil – 7 + 1 (team)
Poss: C’s – 90 / Mil – 88
CV%: C’s – 37 / 90, .411 / Mil – 48 / 88, .545


Note re Calculations:
The number of “possessions” is an accurate count, not a formula-based estimated value.

For purposes of clarity, the bracketed digit following the FT% is the exact count of “conversions” represented by those FTA’s.

“Possessions” calculation: FGA’s + FT conversions + TO’s – OR’s (including Team OR’s)

“Conversions” calculation: FG’s + FT conversions


Abacus Revelation for the Road

I’ve calculated the “Summative Equation” of all Celtic games this season. Through 88 games now, it has incorrectly identified the winner of a game but twice (projecting one-point C’s wins in what turned out to be one-point losses to the Heat and Lakers).

The formula calculated the game’s actual spread 19 times; it has been off by one point 30 times (including Games 1 – 4 of the Milwaukee series), by two or three points another 31 times.

The largest error has been by six points (twice), and only eight games in total (including Games 5 & 6) have been amiss by more than three points.

Final point re. conversions: In Boston’s 88 games, the team that notched more conversions is 54 – 30 – 4 (.643) – that’s even more powerful than Home Court Advantage!


images: AP, usatoday, getty

Abacus Reveals 4/27/2018 06:42:00 PM Edit
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