Magic hand Celts season's most instructive game / Green Stats
It wasn't that the Celtics didn't play hard. They didn't play hard enough, and some of the Green didn't bring the necessary focus and aggression at all — allowing Orlando to outplay Boston on both sides of the court, and win every quarter. Final score: 110-91.
Why "instructive"? Because this was a winnable game against a middle-of-the-pack team; the reasons the Celts lost all had to do with effort and focus. Fixables.
Here are details on the game, and where the club stands now...
Cs' Off. & Def. Efficiency Ratings vs. ORL – November 29 2015:
Cs’ Offensive Rating for this game = 95.4 (pts scored per 100 possessions) — equivalent to the #29 offense in the NBA this season. I.e., really bad.
Prior to this game, ORL's defense was rated #12 in the league (DefRtg = 102.2) — a little better than average. Versus the Cs, ORL performed like the #2 defense in the league. Yikes.
Cs’ Defensive Rating for this game = 115.3 (pts allowed per 100 possessions) — equivalent to the league's #30 defense this season. Seriously bad. The bigs, in particular, too often failed to pay sufficient attention to their coverages, resulting in many WIDE OPEN Magic shots.
Coming into this game, the Magic' offense was rated # 19 in the league (103.0 Off.Rtg.). Not exactly the Warriors of the East. The Cs' D let ORL perform like the 2nd-best (!) offense in the league. Not the Green's finest hour on D.
Pace: Each team had 95 possessions – slower that the Cs' average for the season (98.9 – #5 in NBA). League average = 96.4.
Refs:Grade:B.Observations: There was only 1 very bad call noted. But the refs, after letting both teams play with pleasantly few whistles for 3 quarters, started calling too many ticky-tack fouls in the 4th, just as the Cs were ramping up their defensive pressure. Nevertheless, this counts as a reasonably well-officiated game in the NBA.
At ~5:14 of the 2nd quarter, Crowder was fouled while driving to the rim, and the call was "foul on the floor"; replay showed clear-cut continuation to the shot attempt. We normally don't mention non-calls (because there are dozens per game) unless the oversight was fairly egregious, which this was.
This was the FOURTH game in a row with decent-to-good officiating. Historically, that's exceptional. (And a strong motivation for us to keep tracking them game by game, in detail.)
Where do the Cs stand now?
Celts' pre-game Defensive Rating was 98.0 (pts allowed/100-possessions) — #4 in the NBA.
After the Magic game, the Cs' Defensive Rating = 98.9 — still #4 in the league (as of 11/29-30). They stay in elite territory (though it sure didn't look like it versus ORL).
[The Spurs have the league's best Def.Rtg. right now @ 94.9, while the Bucks' D is at the bottom @ 113.0. League average = 103.9.]
After the Magic game, the Cs' Offensive Rating = 103.2 (pts/100-possessions) — #18 or #19 in the league (as of 11/29-30). (Note: #14 thru #22 are all within 1 point of each other.) Pre-game it was 103.6: #15.
[Golden State leads the league in Off.Rtg. @ 115.6; PHI is at the bottom with 93.6. League average = 103.9.]
HOW ARE THEY DOING OVERALL, AND WHAT'S THE TREND?
After this game, Cs' Net Rating = +4.2, #7 in the NBA (as of 11/29) — down from +5.7 (#6).
[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 the defense is still OK, while the offense is iffy, intermittent. They're: #4 on D, ~#18 on O, #7 overall. The key component to improve: still the offense.
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 Celtics MUST put together a string of good games to solidify their overall statistical direction.
Avery Bradley as chopped liver
Notes & Observations:
The Celtics are in the middle of an epidemic of missed layups. In this game, it was Turner, Amir, Bradley, Olynyk — but everybody's been doing it, and the phenomenon is mystifying. Just weird. Layup drills??
Despite their record as 6th best offensive rebounding team in the NBA, the Celtics lost that battle to ORL 17-9, and were also outrebounded overall 54-34(!). The width of those differentials speaks of effort issues. Worst offenders on rebounding: Lee and Johnson, who each got only 4 rebounds in ~20 minutes of play. But no one on the team got more than 4 rebounds, except Sully (who grabbed 11). That's bad effort, and lost focus by too many of the bigs.
The Cs forced 15 turnovers from the Magic (lower than their season average), to just 12 of their own.
After 3 quarters of lackadaisical play on defense, the Cs sent Terry Rozier out to try to breathe some life into Boston's game — and that's exactly what he did. He started harassing ORL's guards full court, and the result was evident almost immediately. Cs made a mini-run, but were quickly stymied by a succession of (mostly ticky-tack) fouls calls from the refs (who until then had been mostly happily invisible).
Sully and Turner each shot 1-7, and Olynyk went 1-5. Sometimes you just can't buy a basket.
Jerebko's shooting finally came back in this game. Man, that sucked till now, didn't it JJ...?
BOS' total number of steals (7) was way down from the Cs' league-leading average of >11/game. Likewise, their opponent-turnovers (15) were lower than the Cs' usual (league-leading) rate of >19/game. Again, all these numbers suggest lack of effort — corroborating what our eyes saw.
I lost count of how many times a known good-shooting big (like Channing Frye!) was left COMPLETELY WIDE OPEN, often at the 3-point line. Crowder and Amir were particularly guilty of this. Vucevic had himself an All-Star-level double-double game thanks to the inattention of the Cs' bigs and the inadequacy of rotational coverage. Note: We're used to seeing intermittent lack of focus from KO and sometimes Amir — but it's pretty unusual for Jae Crowder.
We call this the season's "most instructive" game to date because it highlighted, like no game before it, how important — how necessary — it is for the Cs to maintain energy and focus in EVERY game they play. This team can go far this season if they do that — but they won't go anywhere if they don't, because they simply don't have the talent to kick back and hope to win games anyway. Not gonna happen. Here's hoping coach Stevens takes a few key guys — Amir, KO, ET, even Lee, et al — and clarifies for them how important it is for them to maintain energy, urgency and focus in game after game after game.
Suggestion: Give Rozier (and Hunter) some more run. They never seem to lose their energy and focus. And also: Danny — team needs a scoring wing ASAP. And while you're at it, better try to find a high-energy 4 too. You know — just to give Brad another option when some of the bigs inexplicably drop into their somnambulist act.
Tough game coming up immediately in Miami. Cs: Gird up thy loins!
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Efficiency ratings source for comps: Basketball-reference.com. Misc: RealGM.com