Green Stats: What's wrong with the Celtics? What do the numbers tell us?

The Celtics' lack of urgency led them further astray in Indiana.
What's wrong? The numbers tell the story....
The Celtics' defense — heretofore their best feature — dropped dead in Indiana. When your opponent's offense is #23 in the league and you let them score like a top-10 team — you're doing something very wrong.

And there are no excuses this time. The Pacers are a mediocre team right now. Imo the Cs lost because most of them just stopped paying attention. To what? To things like: stupid turnovers, a ridiculous number of Indy 2nd-chance points, another ridiculous number of Celtics missed bunnies, WIDE open IND shooters at the WORST possible moments, 50-50 balls, etc. It was lackadaisical, urgency-free basketball at its finest. And it showed in the numbers.

Off. & Def. Efficiency Ratings vs. IND – Nov 4 2015: 

Cs’ Offensive Rating for this game = 104.2 (pts scored per 100 possessions) — equivalent to #10 in the NBA so far this season (but #21 last season — which is likely to be the more accurate comp, as the current season is so young).

    - Pacers had the NBA's #7 defense last season. Now they're #17 (with DefRtg = 102.4). But it wasn't any great D from IND that beat the Celts. The Cs mostly did that to themselves, and mostly in the first half. Careless turnovers and missed rebounds abounded. (Lemmetellya – that was ugly. My head kept shaking side-to-side in disbelief, as I thought: "When are they gonna start playing real basketball?") Things got better in the 2nd half, though they still missed too many shots-at-the-rim and gave up way too many offensive rebounds (most of which turned into IND points).

Cs’ Defensive Rating for this game = 106.3 (pts allowed per 100 possessions) — equivalent to the league's #22 defense so far this season (and #18 last season).

    - IND's offense last season averaged 103.5 pts/100 possessions, #23 in the NBA. Coming into this game, IND's offense (96.0 OffRtg) was sitting at #28(!!). I.e., their offense basically SUCKS. So what happened when they played the Cs? Well — they scored like the league's #8 offense, that's what. Our D sucked. Lost urgency will do that to a team.

PACE: Each team had 94 possessions – same as last year's league average but lower than this year's (98.0). Note: The Celtics were briefly #2 in Pace prior to IND. This game was slow enough to bring them down to 100.8 now: #8 in the league. (Kings are #1, Pels=#2, Lakers=#3) None of this means much, btw; pace alone doesn't help anyone win games. (Obviously.)

So where do we stand now?

Really, Evan? Again?!?!!
- Before the Pacers game, the Celtics had one of the NBA's best Defensive Ratings: 98.0 pts allowed/100-possessions. (That would have been #1 last season, btw. Remember: the lower the DefRtg, the better.)
- Now the DefRtg = 100.0#12 to #13 in the league.
- Note: These big swings are happening now because they've played so few games. It'll settle down soon.

The Cs' overall Offensive Rating for this season now stands at 99.2 pts/100-possessions — #23 in the NBA. I.e., the offense sucks. (Surprise!)

And how are the Cs trending?
It's too early to call any definite trend. But they've had 3 lousy games in a row — how good could it be? Ugh.


- Watching our guys play like they don't care was pretty dispiriting, for this viewer. But it's important to point out the exceptions, imo. Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder played like they always do: all out. Bradley too, for the most part. And Hunter worked hard. And Rozier gets an Incomplete. And that's all I got. (And if you disagree – definitely let us know in the comments!)

- Isaiah Thomas is the NBA's #6 volume scorer, with 28.0 pts per 36 minutes. He's #3 among guards (only Curry and Westbrook are ahead of him -- and Curry isn't actually human). Gotta love IT.

- Turner and Crowder currently have the team's worst turnover records, with ET regifting his balls on ~21.6% of his plays, and JC on ~24%. These are horrible numbers, but the sample size is thankfully small. And it's probably a pure anomaly for Jae, as he had the team's 4th lowest TOV% last season. Unfortunately, it's kinda par for the course for Turner. <Can you hear my teeth grinding?>

- The following players are the team's most efficient scorers as measured by their True Shooting % (TS%) — which accounts for ALL scoring, including 3-pointers and free throws: Amir (113.6% - WOW!), Jonas (62.5%), Jae (57.3%), Isaiah (55.5%), Sully (53.9%), AB (51.4%), Marcus (50.8%). But note: sample size is small; these numbers will change.

- The worst TS%s belong to these four: Olynyk (28.5% - Horrible!), Turner (38.3% - Bad), Lee (43.4%), Zeller (45%). [Note: 50% is a sorta-decent quasi-minimum.]

- Here are the Cs' TRB%s (Tot Rebound Percentage — % of available rebounds a player got): Sully=17.2%, Lee=16.3%, Olynyk=14%, Amir=13.3%, Jerebko=10.8%, Turner=9.4%, Jae=8.4%, AB=6.0%, Zeller=4.1%. (Smart and Thomas: under 4%.)  Note: League leaders get ~24-25%, DHoward got 19.5% last season.
  • Okay, in all fairness, Zell's only played a total of 37 minutes so far, the least of all non-rookies. Sample size small, got it. But... he is the center, ferkripesake. Put your arms up, big guy!
- Any questions, opinions, arguments, epithets, eggs, tomatoes, etc. — please feel free to put em in the comments section below!

(Efficiency ratings source for comps:

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

Photo: Brian Babineau/NBAE

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