When discussing the current Boston Celtics most people immediately use the word “old” in reference to their extremely veteran roster.
While that is a fair assessment another word that can be used to describe them is “proud”.
The players and coaches are about the only ones who think they can still win a championship as currently constructed. They can admit that it will be difficult but there is no hesitation in their belief.
Foolish or not that belief comes from their proud nature.
In order to turn a fool’s belief of gold into the Larry O’brien Trophy Boston must improve in multiple areas offensively and continue their success on the defensive end.
Here is a look at what has worked and what hasn’t so far:
The five best Celtics by +/- percentage:
Rondo-Allen-Pierce-Garnett-O'Neal. This also happens to be the most commonly used starting lineup by Doc. That group is an overall + 27 when playing together but have only done so in 12 total games this season. Incidentally another Celtics quintuplet is tied with the same +27 percentage and they are: Bradley-Pietrus-Pierce-Bass-Garnett. The downside of this seemingly positive stat is that these lineups rank 41st amongst the top 5 man combinations in the league.
The five worst Celtics by +/- percentage:
This stat took a little digging as typically a team’s worst +/- percentage group will come from the end of the bench guys. So I looked for a lineup that has been used for at least 30 total minutes this season and even still it is a little misleading. Bradley-Allen-Pierce-Bass-Garnett with just a +5 percentage would suggest Doc should avoid putting this group on the court at the same time the remainder of the season. Unfortunately, injuries continue to mount which forces Doc to use crappy creative lineups.
Individual Celtics by +/- percentage:
Kevin Garnett has been the most valuable Celtics by this stat with a +97, followed by Pierce (+88) and then Bass (+47). Garnett’s value comes as no surprise although I would have figured Rondo (+43) would have been higher. Greg Steisma has the dubious distinction of having the worst percentage with a -80 followed by Keyon Dooling at -64.
Boston’s Defensive brilliance:
The team has been hanging its hat on the defensive end so far this season. Ranking 3rd in both opponents’ field goal percentage (41%) and opponents points per game at 88.5 points. Boston ranks first in opponents three point percentage (30%) and fifth in blocks per game at 5.72. Yes, Team Green is very stingy on the defensive end. The blocks are a sneaky surprise but make little difference as many of those blocks still end up as 2nd chance points of the opponents after offensive rebounds.
Boston’s Woeful Offense:
Not since the invention of the shot clock era (always wanted to use that phrase) have the Celtics averaged below 90 points per game. At 89.4 points per contest the Celtics rank 26th in scoring despite having an offense predicated on movement. Too many jump shots! Jumpers account for 71% of Boston’s field goal attempts. With all the jumpers Boston ranks 28 in free throw attempts because they rarely go to the basket to get fouled. The bench which has been said to be improved is still 27th in the league managing just 25.7 points per game. This offense is putrid!
Closing out the negative, the Celtics are last in rebounding at 38.7 boards per game (22nd in defensive rebounding and 30th in offensive rebounding respectively).
With all of these stats, most of them being negative, Boston still enters the second half of the season at 15-17 currently good for 8th in the Eastern conference. They have enjoyed quality wins over New York, Orlando (twice), and Indiana. But the bad losses include Detroit (twice), Toronto, New Orleans, Phoenix, and Cleveland.
Where this team goes in the second half off the season will be determined by health (as always), rebounding, and offensive efficiency. The outlook is not good and I certainly became more depressed when looking at the stats. But because the team is so proud they probably eek out a 500 record when its all said and done.
As for banner 18? Well I stopped sipping that kool-aid a while ago but will hope that the team finds a way to make a reasonable playoff run with this likely being the last season of the "Big 3" era.