Hawks hand Celtics first blowout of season / Green Stats analysis

The Celtics were blown out for the first time this season on Tuesday night, by the Atlanta Hawks, in a nationally televised game in which some Cs appeared at times to be sleepwalking in the second half (Olynyk, Jerebko), while others fought valiantly, but in vain. Final score: 121-97.


Cs' Off. & Def. Efficiency Ratings vs. ATL – Nov 24 2015:


Cs’ Offensive Rating for this game = 96.7 (pts scored per 100 possessions) — equivalent to #29 in the NBA this season. The Cs' run of 6 straight good-to-great offensive performances is now ended. This was a bad one. Very.
  • Prior to this game, ATL's defense was rated #16 in the league (DefRtg = 103.8) — mediocre. Versus the Cs, ATL played like the #2-best defense in the league. (Or rather, the Celtics allowed them to play like that.)

Cs’ Defensive Rating for this game = 120.7 (pts allowed per 100 possessions) — equivalent to the league's #30 defense this season, and last season (and any other season). Slow motion play, lazy/late closeouts, missed covers, absent urgency, etc. — mostly in the second half.
  • Coming into this game, the Hawks' offense was rated #10 in the league (105.2 Off.Rtg.). The Celtics allowed Atlanta to perform like the league's #1 offense (by-a-mile). I.e., the Cs' D sucked.

Pace: Each team had 100 possessions – a bit faster than the Cs' average of 98.6 prior to the game (#5 in NBA). League average = 96.5.

Refs: Grade: A. Observations: There were no observed egregiously bad calls. The officiating appeared competent and even. (Does the combo of TNT + Adam Silver have a salutary effect?)


Where do the Cs stand now?


  • Celts' pre-game Def.Rtg. was 99.1 (pts allowed/100-possessions) — #4 in the NBA.
  • After the Hawks game, the Cs' Defensive Rating = 100.7 — ~#6 in the league (as of 11/24-25). After two bad games, the Cs are moving downward in the standings.
  • [The Spurs have the league's best Def.Rtg. right now @ 96.0, while the Bucks' D is at the bottom @ 111.4. League average = 104.1. Note: At this stage of the season, positions can change substantially every night.]

  • After the Hawks game, the Cs' Offensive Rating = 104.5 (pts/100-possessions) — ~#11 in the league (as of 11/24-25). [Pre-game it was 105.2: #10.]
  • The offense which was improving in game after game over the prior 6 games dropped dead in this one. As a result, the Boston offense's stay in the NBA's Top-10 has ended. That was quick.
  • [Golden State leads the league in Off.Rtg. @ 114.2; PHI is at the bottom with 93.2. League average = 104.1. Note: At this stage of the season, positions can change substantially every night.]

  • After this game, Cs' Net Rating = +3.8, #8 in the NBA (as of 11/24-25) — down from +6.0 (#5). They're dropping fast now.
  • [Stat Note: Net Rating (aka "Net Efficiency Rating") is a measure of how many more (or fewer) points the Cs scored than their opponents, per 100 possessions (thus eliminating any effect of pace). It's derived by subtracting the Defensive Rating ("DefRtg") from the Offensive Rating ("OffRtg").]
  • The numbers say that both defense and offense are teetering away from the excellence they had achieved — briefly, as it's turning out — a few games ago. They're still in reasonably decent shape statistically, but no longer in clear elite territory: #6 on D, #11 on O, #8 overall.
  • The general direction of the OARs (Opponent-Adjusted Ratings) is still positive, indicating that the Cs are still, on average, beating expectations (based on opponents' strengths). But the last two games are MAJOR negative data points, and the stats are now threatening to turn negative altogether. A couple more games like the last two, and they will. (But that's not likely, given that PHI is next up.)
I was great then...!

Quick Notes:

  • Kelly Olynyk epitomized apathy and slowness-of-foot in the second half. Can't explain why. Jerebko struck out on every shot he took. Crowder and Thomas each shot a miserable 3-11 (though IT hit 40% of his 3s {2-5}); Turner shot ever worse at 2-8 (no 3pt attempts). But Avery Bradley was terrific, as he has been ever since he came back from the couple of games he sat out. RJ Hunter scored 12 points on 5-6 shooting (2-3 from distance), and didn't make too many rookie mistakes. And J.Young took one three-point shot and made it, in garbage time. (He shot 100%!!) All in all, some Cs played hard, but there were too many missed shots and missed defensive assignments — particularly in the second half.
  • The bottom line is: This is a defense-first team, and the D was slow, late and bad. Stevens was steamed after the game; can't blame him.
  • After two bad games in a row, the Cs' standing as a Top-10 team is slipping away, nearly gone. The Philly game should help. But this team seems to have lost some of its urgency. Too bad, because if there's one thing we can say for sure about these Celtics, it's: This team must work hard EVERY NIGHT if it expects to stay among the league's elite. They haven't got the horses to do it any other way.
  • Could it be that Marcus Smart is the spark that lights this team's fire?

Green Stats runs an analysis after each Celtics game, right here, usually within ~ 1 to 20 hours of the final horn. Note: Some posts will be (much) longer than others.
Efficiency ratings source for comps: Basketball-reference.com. Misc: RealGM.com

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Photo: Mark J. Rebilas / USA TODAY Sports

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