The Algebra of the Game: C’s win over Hawks in – Ho-hum! – another stirring comeback
The locker-room lecture from Coach Brad Stevens last night in Atlanta could have concerned only one thing – TURNOVERS. The C’s had managed to kick the ball away on exactly half of their final twelve first-half possessions, posting an even dozen TO’s in 24 minutes of play.
Their butterfingers negated a strong Q2 effort by Boston in which they allowed Atlanta to convert under a third of their chances to score. But since the C’s non-D had allowed conversions on two-thirds of the Hawks’ 24 Q1 possessions, they were facing their displeased mentor in a six-point hole, 50-44.
Both squads emerged from halftime charged up, converting four of their first five opportunities. But an early Boston TO would be their lone Q3 mishap, and soon they were draining seven of eight shots (three from behind the arc) and taking their first lead of the evening.
But a determined bunch of Hawks recaptured the lead in Q4’s opening minute or so, grabbing half their six overall offensive rebounds and scoring half their eight overall “follow-up” points in the first three possessions.
The Celtics put the game away during a four-and-a-half minute, eight-possession stretch when the Atlanta defense just couldn’t buy a stop. That 18-9 spurt was the difference in the ballgame.
The Hawks’ 16 conversions in the first quarter matches the high that the C’s have yielded in any session of play – Charlotte and the Lakers equaling the feat. (The C’s had 16 Q4 conversions in their easy victory over the Knicks in Week 2.)
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
Abacus Revelation for the Road
After enjoying a phenomenal Q3 run Thursday night against GSW in which the followed up each and every one of nine consecutive defensive stops with a conversion at the other end, the current kings of the NBA mountain got a taste of how the other half lives in Saturday’s opening session.
After clicking on five of their first six tries vs. the Hawks, the C’s suffered their own 0-fer – nine straight Empty Possessions. By the time it was over, they were in the 15-point hole they carried into Q2.