Green Stats: Movin' on up – Nov 10 Celtics-Bucks game analysis

On Tuesday night, the Celtics tipped-off against the NBA's #3 defense (Milwaukee). Result: They made the Bucks' D look like the #29 defense in the league.

Meanwhile, Boston's defense was awesome once again. It now stands at #4 in the NBA. With a bullet. A big, fat bullet.

Cs' Offensive & Defensive Efficiency Ratings vs. MIL – Nov 10 2015:
Cs’ Offensive Rating for this game = 109.5 (pts scored per 100 possessions) — equivalent to #3 in the NBA this season (#5 last season).
  • Bucks had the NBA's #3(!) defense last season. What a difference a few months make. Prior to this game, MIL's D was rated #25 in the league (DefRtg = 108.6), despite a VERY easy schedule (BKNx2, PHI, NYKx2, etc.). And the Cs' offense made the Bucks' defense look like #29. 'Nuf said.

Cs’ Defensive Rating for this game = 91.8 (pts allowed per 100 possessions) — equivalent to the league's #1 defense this season (and last season too, by far). Another AWESOME defensive performance by the Cs.
  • MIL's offense last season averaged 102.7 pts/100 possessions, #26 in the NBA. Their easy schedule so far this season probably accounts for their offense's #9 rating (105.0 Off.Rtg.) prior to this game. So what happened when the Bucks met the Celtics? MIL walked away looking like the worst offense in the league. (Yes: the Bucks' Off.Rtg. in this game was 91.8 -- equivalent to #30 in the NBA, since the worst offense this season currently belongs to PHI, at 94.6 pts/100-possessions.)

  • MIL's record prior to meeting the Celtics was 4-3, but their 4 wins came against PHI, BKN twice, and NYK. Uhh – not exactly Murderer's Row. (They lost to NYK, WAS and TOR. Ditto.) I.e., MIL is probably not a very good team this year. What happens when a so-so offensive team meets an elite defense? They get slaughtered. Exactly what happened in this game. The Celtics' defense is already — RIGHT NOW — working at the NBA's elite level. No kidding. (Details below.)

Pace: Each team had 90 possessions in this contest – a relatively slow game. Cs were averaging 102.2 possessions/game prior to this one, #1 in the league. (The league average is currently 97.6.) This game brings them down to 100.2, ~#8 in the league.  
  • Note: Pace is not very relevant to performance, in the final analysis. It's a sorta-interesting stat, but only peripherally (imo).
So where do the Cs stand now?
"A good player."
- Before this game, the Celtics' Defensive Rating was #8 in the league, at 98.0 pts allowed/100-possessions. (That would have been #1 last season, btw.)
- Now their Def.Rtg. = 97.1 — 4th best in the league. I.e., the Celtics' defense is now officially in elite company.
- This is in no small part due to Brad Stevens, who set it all up and watches over the D with eagle eyes — generating critical defensive adjustments as needed on the fly. Make no mistake: this is Stevens' D, from A to Z.

The Cs' overall Offensive Rating for this season now stands at 102.6 pts/100-possessions — #15 in the NBA, and climbing rapidly. Prior to the Bucks game, they were #19. (Note: The offense was horrible in the season's first few games, which naturally slows its ascent in the rankings.)

And how are they trending?
The trend is clearly upward. The defense is already elite. The offense is catching up.

Note: If the Celtics can reach and then sustain a top-10 offense along with a top-5 defense — they will be considered major contenders. They're not there yet, but they are getting close....

- The Celtics currently lead the league in Defensive TOV% (Opponent Turnover Percentage) (17.6%) — and in steals per game (11.7). These are definitely NOT throw-away stats. Besides the obvious importance of generating TOs, opponents also get demoralized when you steal their balls too often. That's (part of) how you win games.  
  • Note: This could be a partial explanation of why it takes the Cs some time, in a typical game, to start imposing their will on opponents: The confusion and demoralization that happen as a result of the TOs they force take time to develop.
- Crowder leads the league in steals (3.2 per game, 3.7 per 36 minutes). Gotta love Jae C.

 - Speaking of 'love' — Brad plainly loves Evan Turner. Despite ET's (past, and some present) faults (turnovers, variably weak shooting, weird brain), the coach, when asked, always says the same thing about him: "He's a good player." Hard to argue with that, these days.

- Isaiah may be finding out that starting is hard. There's a reason he's in the 2nd unit, and it's possible he's seeing that reason clearly now for the first time. His shooting and overall scoring have been significantly worse as a starter compared to when he was coming off the bench. We'll get further into the details of this another day (prob tomorrow).

- It's looking more and more like the WASH game was a true turning point for the Cs. This is already a very good team, right now. With one, or at most two moves — they could be great.

Green Stats runs an analysis of each Celtics game, usually within ~ 1 to 20 hours after the final horn.
Note: Some posts will be (much) longer than others.

(Efficiency ratings source for comps:

For a brief intro to the advanced stats used here in Green Stats, please see: Green Stats: Intro to advanced stats +...

Photo: Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Connect with DRJ on Twitter @DRJ_CsNStats