# The Algebra of the Game: C’s sleight-of-hand, slick shooting subdue Magic

During Wednesday’s frantic but futile second-half comeback against Miami, the C’s had made 19 of their 36 FG attempts – only the sixth time in 38 tries they’d shot 50% or better in a half-game.

In Friday’s 70-point first half, the boys decided to provide the home crowd to some Stevens Ball – excepting the six TO’s – at its finest. Not only did they drain 57% (28-49, 11-20 on treys) of their shots, they chased down six errant ones (along with a missed FT) for 12 “follow-up” points.

The final score was the closest the Magic would ever get from that point.

Summative Equation:
Bos – 53 Conversions + [9 “Stripes”] {17 treys “minus” 8 missed FT’s “equals” 1 stripe}
Orl – 50 Conversions + [2 “Stripes”] {9 treys “minus” 7 missed FT’s “equals” 2 stripes}
Expected Outcome -- +3 Conversions + [7 Stripes] = C’s win by 13 points
Actual Score: Boston 118, Orlando 103

The efficient Celtics converted 31 of 51 first-half possessions. Their 53 conversions for the game are a season high.

Summative Equation (Season-to-date):
Bos – 944 Conversions + [+112 Stripes] {223 treys minus 111 missed FT’s equals 112 stripes}
Opp – 888 Conversions + [+69 Stripes] {171 treys minus 102 missed FT’s equals 69 stripes}
Expected Outcome -- +56 Conversions + [+43 Stripes] = C’s win by (112 + 43) 155 points
Actual Score: Boston 2068, Opponents 1914

There’s only one ugly number on the scoresheet of this game. Including team rebounds, the visitors scrapped their way to 21 offensive rebounds – only the second time the Association’s second-best defensive rebounding squad has been beaten on the offensive boards through 20 games.

The Algebra of the Game

1st Quarter
FG: C’s – 15-22, .682 / Orl – 9-23, .391
3FG: C’s – 7-11, .636 / Orl – 1-5, .200
FT: C’s – 3-5, .600 [2] / Orl – 7-10, 1.000 [5]
TO: C’s – 5 / Orl – 4
OR: C’s – 4 + 0 (team) / Orl – 6 + 0 (team)
Poss: C’s – 25 / Orl – 26
CV%: C’s – 17 / 25, .680 / Orl – 14 / 26, .538

2nd Quarter
FG: C’s – 13-27, .481 / Orl – 8-25, .320
3FG: C’s – 4-9, .444 / Orl – 1-8, .125
FT: C’s – 3-3, 1.00 [1] / Orl – 4-4, 1.000 [2]
TO: C’s – 1 / Orl – 5
OR: C’s – 2 + 1 (team) / Orl – 5 + 2 (team)
Poss: C’s – 26 / Orl – 25
CV%: C’s – 14 / 26, .538 / Orl – 10 / 25, .400

3rd Quarter
FG: C’s – 8-22, .364 / Orl – 10-24, .417
3FG: C’s – 3-8, .373 / Orl – 1-2, .500
FT: C’s – 7-9, .778 [4] / Orl – 1-4, .250 [2]
TO: C’s – 0 / Orl – 2
OR: C’s – 1 + 2 (team) / Orl – 3 + 2 (team)
Poss: C’s – 23 / Orl – 23
CV%: C’s – 12 / 23, .522 / Orl – 12 / 23, .522

4th Quarter
FG: C’s – 6-20, .300 / Orl – 14-23, .609
3FG: C’s – 3-14, .214 / Orl – 6-9, .667
FT: C’s – 4-8, .500 [4] / Orl – 0-1, .000 [0]
TO: C’s – 3 / Orl – 2
OR: C’s – 6 + 0 (team) / Orl – 2 + 1 (team)
Poss: C’s – 21 / Orl – 22
CV%: C’s – 10 / 21, .476 / Orl – 14 / 22, .636

Full Game
FG: C’s – 42-91, .462 / Orl – 41-95, .432
3FG: C’s – 17-42, .405 / Orl – 9-24, .375
FT: C’s – 17-25, .680 [11] / Orl – 12-19, .632 [9]
TO: C’s – 9 / Orl – 13
OR: C’s – 13 + 3 (team) / Orl – 16 + 5 (team)
Poss: C’s – 95 / Orl – 96
CV%: C’s – 53 / 95, .558 / Orl – 50 / 96, .521

Note re Calculations:
The number of “possessions” is an accurate count, not a formula-based estimated value.

For purposes of clarity, the bracketed digit following the FT% is the exact count of “conversions” represented by those FTA’s.

“Possessions” calculation: FGA’s + FT conversions + TO’s – OR’s (including Team OR’s)
“Conversions” calculation: FG’s + FT conversions

In certain end-game situations, a player is required to miss an FT intentionally, in hopes of reacquiring possession with an Offensive Rebound – generally a desperation move.

In the Celtics first 20 games, the shooting team retained possession of a missed FT 13 times, the C’s leading 7-6 in this odd little category – also ahead 9-3 in follow-up points from this boardwork.

Both squads snatched one such OR last night, each resulting in an unsuccessful FGA.

I’ve always been uncertain whether to consider a sequence like this (i.e. a possession that ends at the free throw line, but gets a bonus opportunity tacked on with on OR) one possession or two.

The convoluted mathematical formula used to estimate the number of possessions seems predicated on the notion that teams play an equal number of possessions. Some decisions regarding the numerical record of a game are made (it seems) to preserve this notion – for example, when a team loses an opportunity to score because a personal foul has been deemed “flagrant,” the fouler is assessed a Turnover (apparently for balance).

As far back as the late 1960’s – even farther, for all I know – during Celtic games at the Garden, a dude at the press table was typing up a running play-by-play, pretty much the same thing we can now find at NBA.com, or ESPN. It was duplicated and distributed to the media every quarter. (Long-time C’s publicist Howie McHugh would send some to Johnny Most and them “high above courtside” on a clipboard tied to some string.)

Sadly, the accurate tracking of possession totals is still at the “clipboard-on-a-string” stage of evolution.

Sigh!!