Old-School Reflection and New-Fangled Numbers after 20 Weeks
The NBATV studio broadcast crew for Monday night’s Celtics-Clippers tilt – particularly former Cavs GM David Griffin – seemed to be filing away the increasingly inevitable C’s defeat as a “schedule loss” and the consequence of a multi-day hiatus in laid-back LA. (By contrast, last season’s late-January So-Cal visit featured a Staples Center back-to-back.)
Idle Hands + Devil’s Workshop = Lack of Urgency, huh?
That little equation just may well sum up Boston’s erratic regular-season performance as well – although that all can’t be laid at the doorstep of the allure of La-La Land.
Last year’s regular-season over-achievement re-established the Celtics as an elite NBA team. The next stage of development for a squad is to evolve into a genuine contender – and that happens in May and June.
This absence of significance for the regular-season is exacerbated by the now-common practice of the “healthy scratch” – Pop may have invented it, but everybody’s doin’ it!
Historical Parallel – the “Road” to a Title
The Celtics’ 68-win 1972-73 season established the “bonafides” of MVP Dave Cowens as a Hall of Famer-to-be. However, despite the super-human (and one-armed) efforts of John Havlicek, fourth-year Coach Tom Heinsohn’s boys fell short in an ECF Game 7 at the old Garden to a battle-tested band of Knicks.
The following season, the C’s win total dropped to 56, second in the league to Kareem’s Bucks, whom they’d meet and beat in the 1974 Finals. (Milwaukee’s squad had been constructed by former Celtic Wayne Embry.)
Funny thing about those first post-Russell Celtic champions – the title clincher on May 12, 1974 was one of six games Heinie’s Heroes won AWAY from the Garden’s Lucky Leprechauns during that title run.
Both at home and on the road that post-season, Boston posted a record of 6 – 3.
Breakdown of the West Coast Trip
Through 68 games, Brad’s boys have converted 3,431 of 6,780 possessions (.506), their opponents 3,327 of 6799 (.489). Additionally, Boston has earned 621 “stripes” (869 treys minus 248 missed FT’s) versus 404 (776 minus 372) for the other guys.
For the season, Boston holds a hefty 1,253 – 1,021-point edge in Points Following Turnovers … and despite their poor reputation as a rebounding team, the C’s have dug themselves but a 39-point hole (840 – 879) in Follow-up Points.
Here’s the quarterly per-game “Algebra” from the West Coast excursion. (What, no scuttlebutt from the plane ride home??)