A glance at the “nuts and bolts” of two weeks of statistical equity

As Day 14 of a new season arrives, a glance at the NBA stats shows Brad Stevens’s 4-2 Boston Celtics ranked No. 1 in three separate categories – one offensive, one defensive, the other not really one or the other (and perhaps a potential concern in the long run).

Opponents block just 3.3 of Boston’s 90 per-game field goal attempts, fewest in the league. (The C’s had ranked sixth last year on the heels of three consecutive Bottom 10 finishes as Swat-ees.)

Just as they’d done last season, the Celtics top the loop in defending the three-ball. (The squad’s been Top 5 for the entirety of Coach Brad’s watch.)

Finally – and more dubiously – Celtic opponents are the NBA’s worst free-throw shooters. (Or do the head-games of the Marci constitute FT defense?)

Overall, through six games, there is enormous balance between Boston’s team totals and those of the other guys. For instance, the C’s hold an ever-so-slight 278-275 edge in converted possessions. Other areas of balance include:

Boston Opponent

124                FT Attempts                   124
   541             FG Attempts                        542
224                   Field Goals                    221
235                Def. Rebounds                  236
301                  Total Rebounds               295
83                    Turnovers                         81 

Even when broken down by Quarter, there’s an uncanny equity to performance:

Conversions                /                          Points
Boston                                              Opponent

62 conv. / 142 points           Q1           63 conv. / 128 points
69 conv. / 150 points           Q2           67 conv. / 150 points
76 conv. / 169 points            Q3           75 conv. / 155 points
71 conv. / 148 points           Q4           70 conv. / 145 points

Interesting, isn’t it, that in Q1’s, Boston has registered one fewer conversion yet managed to score 14 more points than their opponents?

How can such contrary logic “add up”?

Well, consider that the worthy opposition has attempted 27 Q1 FT’s, accounting for an even dozen of their converted possessions. The C’s have earned but 19 Q1 FT’s, good for seven converts.

Each side also took slightly more than one-third of their FGA’s from behind the three-point stripe, the Celts making 16 of 49, compared to allowing 11 for 49.

But the balance here is tipped by the other guys’ league-best ineptitude at the foul line. They squandered their Q1 treys (and one more) with 12 clanks from the foul line … -1 “Stripe”!

Boston missed only three FTA’s, thus earning 13 “Stripes” and creating a Q1 advantage of – you guessed it! – 14 points.

Alas, it’s unrealistic to expect NBA players to keep shooting 56 percent from the foul line (15-27) … that’s the potential concern I’d referenced earlier.

Of course, that same realism is what leads us to expect the C’s sub-40 percent FG shooting in Q1 (55-142, .387) and Q4 (50-128, .391) to begin to resemble the 44 percent accuracy of their middle segments.

Abacus Revelation for the Road

“It’s a long road and a little wheel, and it takes a lot of turns to get there.” -- Charlie Daniels