The numerical nuance of a game that didn’t get away

During Saturday’s victory over David Fizdale’s stubborn New York Knicks at their Garden, it seemed as if the Celts kept moving in for the kill but just couldn’t put the stake through the heart of a young squad.

Allonzo Trier, Hardaway Jr., Vonleh … even Enes Kanter was looking sprightly running the court.

Indeed the Home-boys matched the Stevens Green conversion-for-conversion – both squads notched 48 for the game – and the outcome was determined at the charity and three-point stripes. The C’s countered their five missed FT’s with nine treys (+4) – NY squandered their dozen three-balls with 10 misfires from the line (+2). [Thru 3 games, Boston holds a 22 – 5 edge in “Striping” (5.8 points per game).]

For the first time this season, Boston attempted more FT’s than the other guys – last season, the boys were 18 – 9 under those conditions.

In Saturday night’s Q3, the Knicks committed their fourth team foul at 7:58. The Celtics had 16 FTA’s in that 12 minutes, good for eight conversions. By contrast, in Friday night’s Q4, Toronto’s fourth team foul was whistled at the 10:00 and Boston attempted just four more FT’s in the game.

Cause & Effect?

The Celtics had launched 73 3FGA’s in their first two games (37.2% of their FGA’s) but took only 25 (30.5%) against the Knicks.

Is tripling one’s trips to the free-throw line just that simple?

I Miss Al McGuire

“The best thing about a freshman? He becomes a sophomore!” (Coach reduced that final word to two syllables and somehow got a “w”-sound into his enunciation.)

Jayson Tatum’s eventful final minute ran the gamut of those words – from an embarrassing blown dunk and the Big Mama Jama of brain-dead fouls; to an impressive dunk on a broken play, an alert retrieval of his errant dunk, two clutch FT’s and an absolutely gorgeous, McHale-like fall-away.

Take another look from the baseline angle at JT’s post-up shot and you can see him feeling for the strings on the ball while focused on the rim – I can live with the mistakes when I see evidence of him working on his fundamentals.

I Hate That Rule

With 10 seconds remaining and down by three points, Knick point guard Trey Burke chose to drive for an easy deuce. When a quick entry pass was unavailable, C’s honcho Brad Stevens requested a Time-out.

Boston utilized its option to advance its in-bounding position to the front court, a procedure as old as the league itself.

Back in the day, that choice incurred more risk than it does now, since the subsequent in-bounds pass could NOT be thrown to the backcourt – an over-and-back turnover would occur.

Nowadays, the entire 94’x50’ is fair game for such a pass, so the C’s wisely spread the floor and were not challenged on the entry pass.

I don’t know when or why those procedures were changed. I have no problem with the rules providing the offense with a short-cut in the hopes of creating a “fabulous finish.”

But the purpose of the rules, first and foremost, is to maintain a proper competitive balance between the offense and the defense. This adjustment regarding entry passes manufactures a disadvantage for the defense – one that does not exist in the normal course of play.

Anybody out there know the reasoning behind all this?

Didn’t John Havlicek once show us that a defensive gem in the closing seconds provides quite a thrill, too?