The Quest for Banner 18 after Nine Weeks – a quarterly report
Even as Brad Stevens and his Boston Celtics find themselves, after nine weeks of play, smack-dab in the middle of the NBA East’s unexpectedly potent playoff pack, a glance at the squad’s statistical “footprint” for the season provides plenty of reason for optimism.
Boston’s defensive effort thus far ranks in the Association’s Top Five in per-game scoring (No. 4), Opponent FG% (No. 3), Opponent 3FG% (No.4), Defensive Rebounding (No.5), and Opponent Turnover Percentage (No. 3).
The C’s are also a Top Five team in protecting the ball, No. 4 in TO%. Consequently, they’ve outscored their opposition in Points Following TO’s 18.7 – 14.9 per game. And despite falling in the middle of the pack (No. 15) in Offensive Rebounding Percentage, they hold a 13.2 – 12.0 point per game edge in “Follow-Up” points.
Other than a tendency toward streaky shooting (particularly in Q2) – aided and abetted by a usage rate for three-pointers that would have gotten any previous Boston Celtic coach not only fired but “committed” – the team’s Achilles’ Heel seems to be getting to the free-throw line. While the team’s FT accuracy has been Top Ten at nearly 80 percent, the Men in Green rank in the Bottom Three in both per-game makes and takes – Opponents accrue 10.3 “Free Throw Conversions” per game to Boston’s 8.8, costing the C’s a smidgen over two points per game.
Here’s a quarter-by-quarter breakdown of the season-to-date – data represents a per-game average.