Numbers for thought: Either stop shooting threes or make them please!

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).

Because the Celtics are 0-4 since I wrote the last post for this series, I thought it was time to do another one just to break the curse for the Celtics. Yes, of course the causality is crystal clear in this case, obviously the Celtics cannot win without the help of my statistical cherry picking.

I previously explained how the Celtics could be a Playoff team if they continued to rank at the top in points per game (PPG) and assists per game (APG) categories. Let's check how they are doing now:

10th: MY EYES! MY EYES! How the hell have the Celtics dropped so low in the PPG rankings? What changed? Well:

30%: Ladies and gentlemen, here is your Celtics' 3pt shooting for you. The Celtics rank dead last in the league. Oh, but they rank 12th in 3 point shot attempts. Hmm, maybe the lesson here is that a team shouldn't try 3 pointers if they suck horribly at them?

Here's a fun fact: since 2002-03 season the only team that was worse than the Celtics in this aspect was the 2011-12 Hornets with their eye-popping 7-59 record and terrific 29.5% 3PT%. Oh God the Celtics are horrible from beyond the arc.

4-22: So, remember how the Celtics were really bad at making shots when they were either leading or trailing by 5 points in the last 2 minutes? The last time I checked, they were 4-16. Now they are 4-22. That's correct, they missed 6 more shots and made none in such scenarios. Oh, and remember how Jeff Green was 0-5 from downtown in that situation? Now he's 0-7. He tried two more 3-pointers, and he missed them. No wonder the Celtics couldn't beat the Bulls.

Here's an image of Jeff Green right after a 3-point airball. (Source:
30th: Yay, another category that the Celtics are the league's worst team! This time, it's opponent points in the paint (OppPITP). The Celtics have been letting their opponents have a field day in the paint with an average of 49.6 points per game. For the record, this is not something new, it has been the case for the majority of the season (or at the very least every single time I checked that category we were horrible, and I checked it more than a few times in the past few weeks).

So here's the thing: If the Celtics get better from the 3-point line, and if they somehow improve their interior defense, they can get better. Can they do it? Well, Pressey (1-13 3PT%) is soon going to be replaced by Marcus Smart (6-25) and hopefully the team will realize how horrible they are, so there's that. As for the OppPITP thing, Zeller is now the starter instead of Olynyk, and even though their oppFG% is not different at all (Olynyk's 46.6% vs. Zeller's 46.5%), maybe Zeller's size and his slightly better defensive awareness will mean something.

Let's finish this post with a silver lining:

18th: This is the Celtics ranking according to BasketballReference's Simple Rating System, which takes into account Strength of Schedule and average point differential. The Celtics have a losing record, but given the strength of their opponents, they actually did a fine job in terms of keeping the games close. Since the Celtics have the 4th easiest remaining schedule in the Eastern Conference, one can almost guarantee that their record will improve. Long story short, given the shape of things in the conference, it's still quite possible that the Celtics make the Playoffs (36.5% chance according to Hollinger's simulation)

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