Thursday, May 28, 2015

Boston Celtics 2015: Tankin’ Gone Awry, or Down Payment on Some Wit & Grit?

How does a team that managed to lose 26 of its 39 games during the opening 12 weeks of play turn it around and win 56 percent of the time (18-14) the next nine weeks? It’s a bit befuddling in the case of our Men in Green – at least when one takes a look at the numbers, a few of which actually regressed during the winning stretch. For instance, after 12 lackluster weeks the team’s overall FG shooting stood at .451, No.16 in the league. Nine weeks later, the accuracy had fallen to .440, good for No. 21, and per-game scoring had dropped by a point and a half.

The turnover rate and ranking showed slight improvement, but rebounding and conversion rates and rankings indicated little change nine weeks later.

Two particular numerical values did stand out, however – 26 and 8.

The former represents the Celtics’ ranking in 3FG defense on January 19, the latter that same ranking on March 25. The other guys’ 3-point marksmanship dropped from .368 to .340. During Games 40 – 71, opponents were successful on but 224 of 725 shots from distance (.309). The opposition’s rate of converting possessions dipped only slightly (.497 to .493), a bit more significantly when we adjust that conversion rate for shooting (.511 to .503).

Inconceivable how a couple of little squiggles on a stat line can be so impactful!

By season’s end, Boston was No. 4 (.336) in defending threes. They were a league-best .311 during the final six weeks of the season.

The NBA’s annual Million Dollar Ping Pong Crap Game (is that tank, to which so many take such a shine, of the septic variety?) seems to have amped up the discussion in “Green Land” over Danny and Brad’s decision to take what was behind Door No. 2.

The “prize” might well be the boost it gives to the credibility of a young and largely unproven coach – not among the fans or media, but rather with the fraternity of players.