Shootout in the Garden / Celts' offense explodes again / Green Trends

The Sacramento Kings are known for playing fast and loose and not defending much — and that's exactly what they did in the Garden on Sunday. The Celtics followed suit, scoring 46 points in just the first quarter and a season-high 128 pts overall. Shootout

A lot of guys scored well: Avery Bradley — his confidence sky-high after the game-winner in Cleveland — hit 6 of his 7 threes and tallied a team-high 25 points overall. Sully hit 10 of his 13 shots, Isaiah did his usual great thing and just about everyone else who played contributed on the offensive end.

Old friend Rondo was his usual brilliant self — scratch that, he was better than his old self: 14 points, 15 assists, 6 steals and 3-4 (!) on his free throws. (Defense? Not so much.)

The standout feature of the game was the relative absence of defense, on both sides. It was like everybody just decided to dial it back a little on that end — maybe just to conserve energy and have some fun, since the opportunity (namely: the Kings team) was there. Here's a typical play: Kosta Koufos strolling to the rim for an uncontested 2 off the simple pick & roll. And here's one on the other end: Crowder backdooring a layup all alone at the rim.

It was a fun game, albeit not exactly a prototypical one for the Cs.

Note: the Cs' offensive outburst in this game moved their season Offensive Rating to 106.1, ~#9 in the NBA. They're officially in the top-10 on BOTH offense and defense, now.

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


Cs' Off. & Def. Efficiency Ratings vs. Sacramento – Feb 7 2016:


Cs’ Offensive Rating for this game = 118.8 (pts scored per 100 possessions) — equivalent to the #1 offense in the NBA this season.
  • Prior to this game, SAC's defense was rated #22 in the league (Def.Rtg. = 107.6) — weak.
  • Versus the Cs, SAC's D performed like the #30 defense in the league (Def.Rtg. = 118.8).
  • Just for fun — the Cs' Off.Rtg. in the first quarter was 146.6. (The highest season Off.Rtg. in the NBA now is GSW @ 114.9.)
Cs’ Defensive Rating for this game = 110.4 (pts allowed per 100 possessions) — equivalent to the league's #29 defense this season.
  • Coming into this game, the Kings' offense was rated #10 in the league (Off.Rtg. = 105.9) — good.
  • The Cs' allowed SAC's O to score at a level equivalent to the #4 offense in the NBA (Off.Rtg. = 110.4).
Pace: Each team had 108 possessions – much faster than the Cs' season average (98.5 – #3 in NBA). League average = 95.5/game.

Referees: Grade: B+. Observations: The crew of Tony Brothers (#25), Kane Fitzgerald (#5), and Mitchell Ervin (#27) did a great job in the first half, making NO mistakes. They ended up with 3 bad calls and 1 missed traveling violation. Overall a very good job…
  • At ~9:53 of 3rd quarterTony Brothers (#25) whistled a traveling violation on this play by Jared Sullinger. Bad call: Sully took exactly 2 steps after the gather and passed the ball.
  • At ~3:12 of 3rd quarter — Kane Fitzgerald (#5) called goaltending on this tip-back by Tyler Zeller. Bad call: Replay showed the ball was outside the rim when tipped.
  • At ~2:00 of 3rd quarter — Boogie Cousins traveled on this play, when he took one last step with his right foot before the shot. The refs missed it. (This was the only missed travel in the game, regardless of Tommy's protestations.)
Compared to the Cs' prior 3 games, this was referee heaven.

Don't know about you, but I kinda miss this guy....

Where do the Celtics stand now?


After the Kings game...
  • Offensive Rating = 106.1 — ~#9 in NBA. Range: #9–#11 in a very tight group.
  • Defensive Rating = 101.7 — #2 in NBA. Range: #2–#3 in a tight group.
  • Net Rating = +4.3 — #6 in NBA.
This SAC game was an offensive aberration, no doubt — but DET and NYK were aberrations too (referee-ruined, mostly in the other direction). These things tend to even out over a full season.

For now, after the rejuvenated offense took off ~January 10, the Celts seem to be settling into an Off.Rtg. in the vicinity of ~109.8 to 110.6, and a Def.Rtg. of ~100 to 101.6. That corresponds to the ~#4–#5 offense in the NBA, and ~#2–#3 defense.
  • For example, over their last 10 games, the Cs' ratings have averaged: 109.8 Off.Rtg. and 99.8 Def.Rtg. — equivalent to the league's ~#4 and ~#2 respectively.
Is this the Cs' new norm? All indications point to that conclusion. As noted, their offense — the thing that's been in question all season — has just moved into the NBA's top-10 for the full season, which is quite a big deal because it takes a lot to move the season averages in any direction this late in the season.

Meanwhile, Boston's Offensive Opponent-Adjusted Ratings (OARs) for the full season are showing a clear move up, indicating that the Cs have been significantly improving their offensive performance (relative to the quality the defenses they've faced) — confirming what we've witnessed:

And the trend line (green) of the Net Opponent-Adjusted Ratings (Net OARs) also has a (small) positive slope, indicating that the Cs have been improving their overall performance too, relative to the quality, O and D, of the teams they've faced:


Notes & Ruminations:

  • Fun game, but of course, not the way the Celtics want to play. It's okay though, imo — good to have some playground fun once in a while.
    • You could see the guys doing their playground thing in the turnover numbers: 24 for BOS, a lot em unforced. (Kings had 14.)
  • If you've wondered about the Cs' offense — they just scored 46 points in a quarter, something no other team has done all season, not even the Warriors. Wonder no more.
  • There is no question now that the Celtics are contenders — for the ECFs, at least. How far they can improve between now and then, and how far they might go if/when they do reach the ECFs — we will look to find out on the other side of the big break.
  • Health will be key (as always).
  • It's the Bucks next in Milwaukee on Tuesday, then the Clippers in the Garden on Wednesday, and that's it till after the break. --Cya.

Green Trends is where we analyze the Celtics & identify emerging new trends — before they become obvious. Posts generally run within ~1-20 hours after Cs games.
Efficiency ratings source for comps: Misc: (Note: Our formulas for pace and efficiency ratings are similar to those used by these sites, and most others — just a tad more accurate because we don't ignore team turnovers.'s numbers will differ, as they use different formulas.)

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

Photo: Matt West

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