The Algebra of the “Grunt Work”: Turnovers, Follow-Ups and Free Throws

Not quite halfway through the second quarter of Saturday’s Showdown between this year’s Beasts of the East, C’s rookie Semi Ojeleye fumbled away an offensive rebound of his own missed layup. An offensive foul and 24-second violation – along with the obligatory Brad Stevens Time-out – became the team’s third “3 TO’s in a row” in two games. (An ugly 10-TO Q3 against Utah included two such “three-fers.”)

Fortunately, the nervous Raptors could squeeze but two points from the three miscues.

Impressively, Brad’s boys played their next 34 possessions turnover-free.

Almost unfathomably, those two points, courtesy of a Jonas Valanciunas FG, were Toronto’s only “Points After a Turnover” for the game!!! I shouldn’t even have to tell you that’s the C’s lowest “yield” for the season, one of only 13 times they’ve allowed fewer than 10 PATO’s in 76 outings.

The Unlikeliest of Symmetry

Through 74 games (i.e. excluding the Utah and Toronto wins), the Celtics had scored 1,128 PATO’s, an average of 15.2 per game. Over the same span, they’ve scored 860 “Follow-up Points” at a per-game rate of 11.6.

[Full Disclosure: Some scoring ends up in both columns, i.e. a follow-up on a possession following a TO.]

What’s absolutely bizarre is that the Opposition has IDENTICAL point totals for PATO’s and F-U’s.

What’s encouraging is that, at the All-Star Break, the Bad Guys were +31 (906-875) in PATO’s and +43 (703-660) in F-U’s.

They Call Them “Free” Throws for a Reason

During the season’s first month, while posting a shocking 12-2 slate, the C’s averaged 10 “free-throw” conversions per game – earning 140 such successful possessions to their opponents’ 117.

During the second month (11-4), the per-game average dropped to nine, the overall edge to 135-128.

But despite winning 10 of their next 14, opponents had 149 FT converts to our 110. And Brad’s boys continued yielding 10+ per game during a 6-6 Month Four, losing the “struggle to the line” 122-91 for that stretch.

There is good news, though, as the pendulum began to swing back in Boston’s favor, even while going but 7-5, during Weeks 17-20 – the C’s won a photo finish 115-111.

In their most recent nine games (thru Sat.’s win), Boston holds a slim 86-80 advantage in FT conversions …

… yet still trail by 30 for the season.

Abacus Revelation for the Road

It’s fated to happen. Given the controversial draft choice swap, the joint international scheduling.

Just based on history, it’s inevitable.

The Greatest Playoff Rivalry in NBA History will be resumed in 2018.

And it won’t be the cakewalk we all might expect.

images: daily mirror, sun, getty