Boston Celtics’ First Semester “Algebra” Grades

The Boston Celtics reached the mid-point of their schedule with Wednesday’s dispatching of the King and his current Court – on just the 77th of the NBA’s 168 playing dates for its extended 2017-18 season.

Let’s take a look at some parts of the statistical trail that Coach Brad Stevens’s squad has left in its wake – some confirming, others confounding.

In nearly 90 percent of those games (36 out of 41), the team that registered more conversions ended up winning. Only once – the Miami loss on Nov. 22 that snapped their 16-game run – did the boys win the conversion battle (48-47) but lose the war (104-98).

On the other hand, they’ve “stolen” three games (Charlotte twice, and that Grand Theft by Terry Rozier in Indiana) and played even (vs. Phoenix) in conversions in another victory.

[NOTE: By “conversion,” I’m referring to a possession that concludes either with a successful FG or with the earning of multiple FT’s. Typically, teams win about four times in five when out-converting the opponent.]

But not everything about this magical half-season adds up so neatly.

The team has recorded 21 more victories than the other guys, but is just +55 in overall conversions (1920-1865) – that’s +1.34 conversions per game, hardly a steam-rolling.

As for the cumulative team data, the free throw, turnover and (surprisingly) rebounding numbers are very close to even – dead even in made FT’s.

Boston                                            Opponents
1547-3416 (.453) [No. 18]    FG      1494-3447 (.443) [No.8]
480-1280 (.375) [No. 8]      3FG    374-1096 (.341) [No. 2]
666-872 (.764)              FT           666-875 (.761)
361-1813 (.206) [No. 22]    OR-TR      401-1796 (.216) [No. 9]
583 (.133) [No. 13]           TO           582 (.132) [No. 17]


Back in 1982, the Indiana Pacers led the NBA in both shooting and defending the three-ball – and failed to make the playoffs. Of course, back then only about one out of every 40 shots was taken from behind the arc.

In today’s game – when that ratio is now about one out of three – attention to those details has become mandatory. And as the above data shows, Coach Stevens concurs – ironically, Boston’s usage rate through half a season of play matches its accuracy, .375 (or three out of eight).

When we subtract the C’s 206 missed FT’s from their 480 treys, they are 274 points “to the good” – compared to 165 such points for the opposition. That constitutes a per-game gain of 2.66 points.

In total, then, Boston is 2.68 points ahead in conversions, plus 2.66 stripes – a per-game edge of 5.34.

Specialty Scoring – Room for Growth?

Lastly, here’s how the troops stand in a couple of meaningful sub-categories:

“Follow-up” Points: Boston 418 Opponents 463
Points after Turnovers: Boston 606 Opponents 621