Celtics at dangerous turning point as offense reaches critical low / Green Stats

Deciphering the Celtics

It is what it is, folks. The Celtics do not have a credible offense, and it's sending them rapidly downhill. The risk is very real now that this could end up a no-playoff lost season for Boston. (Sometimes euphemistically called a "rebuilding" year. Yeah. That.)

When Isaiah Thomas doesn't score, no one takes up the slack. The offense just dies. In this game, Thomas shot 5-17 (29.4%), including 0-4 on threes. His backcourt-mate, Marcus Smart, went 3-11 — an improvement over his previous 1-10 mark, but far from adequate enough to make up for IT's errant shooting.

The middle quarters were the Cs' undoing this time. The offense did very well in the 1st and 4th frames, but completely fell apart in the 2nd and 3rd — when their scoring reached levels much worse than the league's worst. (See below.)

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


Cs' Off. & Def. Efficiency Ratings vs. Chicago Bulls – Jan 7 2016:


Cs’ Offensive Rating for this game = 91.0 (pts scored per 100 possessions) — equivalent to the #30 offense in the NBA this season. The problem.
  • In quarters 1 and 4, the Cs' Offensive Rating averaged ~113.5 — a league-leading rate. Good stuff.
  • In the 2nd quarter, the Offensive Rating dropped to a ridiculously low 74.5 (!), allowing the Bulls to catch up. That was followed by an even worse Off.Rtg. of 64.5 (!!) in the 3rd frame — an unheard-of number. And the Cs' got swamped.
  • Note: The lowest average Off.Rtg. in the NBA this season is currently Philly's: 95.3. Highest is Warriors: 113.6.
  • Prior to this game, CHI's defense was rated #4 in the league (Def.Rtg. = 101.6) — excellent.
  • Versus the Cs, CHI's D performed like the #1 defense in the league (Def.Rtg. = 91.0) — a direct reflection of Boston's inability to score.
Cs’ Defensive Rating for this game = 99.9 (pts allowed per 100 possessions) — equivalent to the league's #2 defense this season. Defense was not the problem.
  • Coming into this game, the Bulls' offense was rated #21 in the league (Off.Rtg. = 103.9) — weak.
  • The Cs' D held CHI's O to a level equivalent to the league's #29 offense (Off.Rtg. = 99.9).
Pace: Each team had 101 possessions – faster than the Cs' season average (98.0 – #4 in NBA). League average = 95.6/game. Note: The Bulls like to play fast: they're #10 in the NBA in pace.

Referees: Grade: B. Observations: The officiating crew of Dan Crawford (#43), Leroy Richardson (#20) and Scott Twardoski (#52) did a decent job. Though there were too many no-calls — some of them quite brutal — at least the refs maintained their calling style throughout.


Where do the Celtics stand now?


After the Bulls game...
  • Offensive Rating = 103.6 — ~#24 in NBA. (Only 6 spots left below.)
  • Defensive Rating = 100.2 — #2 in NBA.
  • Net Rating = +3.4 — #7 in NBA. (Down from +3.8, #6.)
A full analysis of the Celtics' current situation (as of Jan 1) appears here.
  • Updates: The trend line of the Net OARs (Opponent-Adjusted Ratings) is pointing way down now (first graph below), reflecting the decline of the Celts' overall performance. The slope of the Offensive OARs' trend line is also negative, for the full season as well as the last 10 games — indicating that the Cs' offense is worsening over time.
  • The trend of the offensive ratings is most significant, as it indicates whether or not the Cs' offense is improving. If the offense does not improve between now and April — the Celtics have no chance in the playoffs.

Notes & Ruminations:

  • The Celts outplayed the Bulls in the first and last quarters, but lost the middle frames by huge (per-possession) margins.
  • If the Cs do nothing, sometime soon they will probably cease being a .500+ team, and drop out of the playoff race for good. And it's all on the offense, which has now reached a critical low and brought the Celtics to a key decision point. No one can any longer say that this is a "good team" and that "things will work out." Things are not working out — it's obvious. The Celtics are going down for the count, and this season is in danger of being permanently lost if they prevaricate now.
  • We will post an analysis focusing on a possible cause of the Celtics' offensive troubles — based on their pace stats — sometime in the next couple of days (probably Friday), right here.
  • Memphis is next, on Sunday. They're a weak offensive team and middling on D. Maybe the Cs will get something going in Tennessee. They need any W they can get at this point.

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 efficiency ratings are similar to those used by these sites, and most others. NBA.com's numbers will differ, as they use different formulas.)

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

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