Celtics outplay Knicks in defensive battle / Cs on a roll, but offense lags / Green Stats

Deciphering the Celtics

While both teams had trouble putting the ball through the hoop on Sunday, the Celtics outfought the New York Knicks on the defensive end to earn their 4th W in a row — the longest such 'streak' of the season to date.

No NYK player shot better than 50%, while Evan Turner (8-11)!!, Amir Johnson (4-7) and Jonas Jerebko (2-3) managed to get there for the Cs.

But if you're a fan of great officiating — this wasn't the game for you.

Here are details on the game, and where the club stands now...


Cs' Off. & Def. Efficiency Ratings vs. NY Knicks – Dec 27 2015:


Cs’ Offensive Rating for this game = 105.4 (pts scored per 100 possessions) — equivalent to the #10 offense in the NBA this season. A late burst helped bring the overall O to reasonable territory.
  • Prior to this game, NYK's defense was rated #16 in the league (Def.Rtg. = 105.6) — mediocre.
  • Note: In their last 10 games, the Knicks' average Def.Rtg. was equivalent to ~#23 in the NBA — significantly worse than their season average.
  • Versus the Cs, NYK's D performed like the #16 defense in the league (105.4 Def.Rtg.) — ~equal to their season average.
Cs’ Defensive Rating for this game = 95.9 (pts allowed per 100 possessions) — equivalent to the league's #2 (!!) defense this season. That makes 3 Cs games in a row with terrific #1-or-#2-level defense.
  • Coming into this game, the Knicks' offense was rated #21 in the league (Off.Rtg. = 103.9) — weak.
  • Note: In their last 10 games, the Knicks' average Off.Rtg. was equivalent to ~#12 in the NBA — significantly better than their season average.
  • The Cs' D held NYK's O to a level equivalent to the league's #29 offense (95.9 Off.Rtg.) — much worse than their season average.
Pace: Each team had 95 possessions – slower than the Cs' season average (98.4 – #4 in NBA). League average = 95.9/game.

REFEREES: Grade: C-. Observations: There were 5 very bad calls noted in this game. The officiating crew of Sean Corbin (#33), Tre Maddox (#73) and Josh Tiven (#58) made too many mistakes — but it was Maddox who messed up most.
  • At ~6:59 of the 2nd quarter, Amir Johnson received a pass while standing ~1 foot from the rim and went immediately to a layup, at which point he was fouled by Robin Lopez across the arms — but there was no call. We don't usually list no-calls (because they're so ubiquitous), but there's a particular reason this one was notable: standing right next to the play, watching intently, was referee Tre Maddox (#73) — about whom we have more to say.
  • At ~1:09 of the 2nd quarter, referee Tre Maddox (#73) whistled a bad phantom foul on Jae Crowder who had guarded Carmelo Anthony driving to the rim. Melo had lowered his shoulder and bulled shoulder-first directly into Jae, as Jae was backing up — and yet Maddox still called the foul on Crowder. Just one of several mistakes by Maddox in this game. As Mike Gorman said at the time: "If that's a foul, then you can't defend." True.
  • At ~10:02 of the 3rd quarter, Jae Crowder was called for another foul on Melo, by referee Josh Tiven (#58), when Melo jumped in the right block for a shot and Jae, jumping behind Melo, stretched out and knocked the ball from his hands — WITHOUT fouling in any way. Another phantom foul call for Melo. Star treatment?
  • At ~5:51 of the 4th quarter, Tre Maddox (#73) (remember him?) called ANOTHER phantom foul — this time on Jonas Jerebko — when, once again, Melo put his shoulder down and bulled into Jerebko's body, shoulder first, as Jonas was backing up. This call was even more ridiculous then the bad fouls that preceded it. It was ABSOLUTELY WRONG — and any referee who can make that call shouldn't be working in the NBA. It was the quintessential bad foul call — exactly what's wrong with the system.
  • At ~4:48 of the 4th quarter, Kristaps Porzingis flopped and referee Sean Corbin (#33) fell for it. This was as clear and brazen a flop as you will ever see; we can only hope that it will result in a flopping fine on Porzingis. Details: As both Porzingis and Jonas Jerebko were waiting under the rim for a rebound, Pozingis, feeling Jonas' arm in his back, fell forward dramatically — as if he had been pushed. Whistle. Problem for Kristaps was: replay showed that there was NO PUSH OF ANY KIND on the play, and this was a 100% PURE FLOP by Porzingis. It's 'fine time,' NBA. Will you do it to the New York media's favorite rookie?
  • –––––––––––––––
  • This business of guys (like Melo) jumping into backpedaling defenders and getting favorable blocking foul calls has got to stop. (Especially the way Melo does it: shoulder-first.) This is one of Jeff Van Gundie's pet peeves, and he's absolutely right. It ruins the game. More than that, it makes a joke of the NBA, because if that were truly the standard then there would be no legal way to stop any determined offense. Refs need explicit instructions on how to properly handle this extremely common situation.
He's back!

Where do the Celtics stand now?


After the Knicks game...
  • Current season averages:
    • Offensive Rating = 104.2 — #17 in NBA
    • Defensive Rating = 99.7 — #2 in NBA
    • Net Rating = +4.5 — #5 in NBA
  • Note: There are 7 teams with Offensive Ratings between #14 and #22 in the NBA now, all tightly bunched together in the 104–105 range. Therefore, if the Cs' Off.Rtg. is currently rated "#17," it should be thought of as somewhere in the range of ~#15–#19 (+/-2).
  • The latest graph of the Cs' Net OARs (Opponent-Adjusted Ratings) now has a positive trend-line slope. Note: Any positivity of that trend line is a good sign for the team, as it means they're improving over time relative to league averages.


Notes & Ruminations:

  • The Cs couldn't find the bottom of the basket for long portions of this game, most notably in the 3rd quarter when the D held NYK down and the O just couldn't put up enough points for the knockout. But they (well, Isaiah mostly; Evan too) turned it up when it counted most, in the 4th, to stymie NYK's attempted comeback run and put the game away for good.
  • Boston's offense has not been very good lately, having generated Offensive Ratings in the league's bottom half in 6 of the last 10 games — and accumulating an average Off.Rtg. of only 102.6 (equivalent to #25 in the league) in that span. And yet they're finding ways to win, even when the offense is way off their (rather-pedestrian) season standard — as happened through long stretches of this game, and in Detroit a day earlier. This ability to grind out wins with great D and so-so O is fairly new for this team — and it's a critical part of ultimately making it to the big time.
  • Marcus Smart came back for ~13 minutes of PT, looking fairly unfazed by the long layoff. Welcome back, Marcus!
  • Evan Turner hit a 3! Alert all media!! But seriously, Evan was great on O this time, getting points the way only ET can, while minimizing turnovers (only 2 for the game), and doing a pretty good job of distributing the ball when necessary (2 assists), rebounding (5), etc.
  • Kobe's roadshow (aka the "Lakers") is up next, at TD Garden, on Wednesday. We've had a lot of fun dumping on Kobe Bryant all these years — but there's no denying his true warrior status. I think he deserves one final goodbye round of applause from the people who hated him most. There will never be any love lost between us, Kobe, but there's no soul alive who doesn't share what you're going through now. Time erodes all things.

Green Stats runs after Celtics games, right here, usually within ~ 1 to 20 hours of the final horn. Note: Some posts will be (much) longer than others, and some games may be skipped altogether.
Efficiency ratings source for comps: Basketball-reference.com. Misc: RealGM.com. (Note: Our formulas for pace and ratings are similar to those used by these sites, and most others. NBA.com's numbers will differ somewhat, as they use different formulas.)

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

Photo: Nancy Lane/Globe

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