Numbers for thought: How I jinxed Celtics' shooting

Numbers for thought is a series that selects certain pieces of statistics before each game (or let's say every now and then to make this a more attainable goal) that may or may not be meaningful (you know, small sample size, outliers or whatever) but nonetheless provide entertainment value (or so I hope).

The main point of the first article in this series was how the Celtics led the league in FG%. As you might have guessed that's not the case anymore, after a historic bricking (is historicking a good pun? how about historickhouse? ok, i give up) session against the Rockets. That performance alone offers so many options I don't know where to start. Let's go:

*24%: That's the 3-point shooting percentage the Celtics needed to win the game. Well, obviously the Rockets starters wouldn't be sitting on the bench if it were a close game, I know these things don't work that way, but still, that gives you an idea of what really caused the Celtics to lose that game. So how unusual was this performance? Well:

*14: That's the number of games since 1985-86 when the Celtics attempted at least 25 3-pt shots and converted at a rate lower than 24%. You might be tempted to say "Oh, it is not that weird, we have a game like this every two years." Well, not exactly. 10 of those 14 games happened in a 2-year span, when a certain former Celtic was on the roster. Anyone have a guess?

What, WHAT?

One game happened when Ray Allen had an unusual 0-9 performance in 2009, and the rest happened last season. So yeah, it's quite likely that we'll have that sort of a shooting night later in the season, especially if Marcus Smart is not feeling it from beyond the arc, and Jeff Green is simply not feeling like attacking the rim. The guy just can't be an asshole all the time. Speaking of which:

*25%: That's Jeff Green's conversion rate for field goals from 0-3 ft. Well, to be fair, he has only taken 4 shots and converted 1 of them, so this case is the definition of small sample bias, but the second worst finisher is Marcus Smart with 2-5, and the other Celtics are all above 50%. That'll definitely get better for the Iron Man as he's a career 64% finisher from that distance.

*102.77: Let's forget the negatives and focus on the fun stuff. The Celtics currently rank at 2nd place in the Pace category, which is an estimate of the number of possessions per 48 minutes. Our opponents so far have been the Nets (19th) and the Rockets (13th), so it is not that our opponents were dictating the pace of the game. The reason, I believe, lies elsewhere:

*10.5: The Celtics currently rank 3rd overall in steals/game because holy crap we are stealing the ball. That's a 47.4% improvement compared to the first two games of the last season. When you force your opponents to turn the ball over at such a high rate, you'll win games unless you're historicking (sorry). It's not just forcing turnovers, we're also taking care of the ball on our end. But I'd better stop here so that I won't jinx it and cause Rondo to turn the ball over 123193021 times tonight.

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