Entering Wednesday night’s tilt out in Sacramento the Boston Celtics find themselves at 33-18 through 51 games and alone in 2nd place in the Eastern Conference. The Green jumped ahead of Toronto for the time being and now see themselves under attack by a surging Washington Wizards squad and a resurgent Atlanta Hawks team. The 51 games under the hood is a substantial sample size at this point, so how good is this Celtics team?
The Celtics are very, very good at several things. That’s the good news. The Celtics also struggle tremendously in a couple key areas. Part 1 of this analysis will focus on the things the Celtics do extremely well.
Here are some broad offensive statistics and where the Cs currently rank in the NBA:
Offensive Efficiency – 7th
Effective Field Goal % – 9th
True Shooting % – 6th
These statistics tell us that as a unit the Celtics are quite effective offensively ranking 7th overall in efficiency. Additionally, despite criticisms from media “experts” about how the Cs have lackluster talent, this group does indeed have offensive skills as seen in the True Shooting % and Effective Field Goal %. These numbers also reinforce how well the Celts move the ball and find the open man.
Photo Courtesy of SLAMOnline
Last year in the first round loss to the Hawks the Celts went into a funk offensively. Granted, AB was out but even given that the team really struggled on offense. These broad stats noted above lead us to believe that there has been improvement (51 games is not a fluke), and the team does have above average NBA talent on offense.
Let’s take a look at some other statistics and where the Cs currently rank in the league:
Percentage of Points from 3PT – 3rd
4th Quarter Scoring – 1st
2nd Half Points/Game – 2nd
Assists Per FG Made – 2nd
A few things really stand out here. The second half and 4th Quarter scoring numbers tell us the Celtics are very well conditioned, have some depth, make great adjustments at the half, never throw in the towel and they have “The Little Guy” IT4 wearing Green. Furthermore, the percent of total points from behind the arc and assists per FG made tell us the team has great chemistry on offense, plays unselfishly, and moves the ball extremely well. In a couple of these categories only Golden State ranks higher than the Celts.
So, who will the Celtics trade for? Generally that seems to be what fans want to know but perhaps consider that this team is already pretty damn good on offense. Unloading potential #1 overall picks for a splashy offensive figure is not necessarily the most productive use of assets at this current time. This is also during a 51 game span where they always seemed to be missing a key player (AB now, Crowder and Horford earlier), so who knows if they play full strength and how that might look in April and May. Maybe Danny Ainge is on to something when he stresses that the Cs in no way HAVE TO “make a deal”.
In Part 2 we will take a crack at some areas where the Celts need very substantial improvement. Cs fans can probably guess which areas will rear their ugly head.