Prelude to a title? Why, defense of course!

The essence and appeal of our games is frequently moral-ized, ala Aesop, into their cliched wisdom.

Baseball preaches that “Chicks Dig the Long Ball,” yet golfers admonish that you “drive for show and putt for dough.”

It does seem universally accepted, though, that “Defense Wins Championships!”

Coach Brad Stevens sure has his Boston Celtics doing their part to uphold the veracity of that last one, their pesky “D” frustrating many a foe into season-low scoring outputs as they’ve pretty much been sitting atop the Defensive Ratings (based on points-per-possession) from the get-go.

Last week’s business trip to London marked the actual mid-point of the NBA regular season. Through Wed. Jan 10, 84 of the season’s 168 playing dates were in the books (as were 613 of the season’s 1,230 games).

In their 43 games to that point, Celtic opponents had been successful on 1,552 of their 3,614 FG attempts (.429, No. 1). The bad guys had snared 422 Offensive Rebounds (.217, No. 10) and squandered 612 possessions with a Turnover (.132, No. 18).

Now when one is a simple counting machine, it’s mandatory to do something – anything? – with a set of numbers like that. To evaluate a team’s performance, adding together the shooting and rebounding percentages, then subtracting the TO%, seems most logical, no?

Thus, Boston’s opponents earned a “SPOR-t score” of .514 during the first half of 2017-18.

Would you believe me if I told you that score puts the Boston Celtic defense at the top of the NBA?

Abacus Revelation for the Road

At mid-season, the average team performance creates a .460 FG%, .223 OR% and .134 TO% -- a .549 SPOR-t. Here are the league’s defensive elite by this measurement.

Boston (.514) Charlotte (.518) Houston (.522) San Antonio (.528) Utah (.529)
OKC (.530) Philadelphia (.531) Miami (.535) Portland (.537) Dallas / Detroit (.538)

Image: Metro West Daily News