The Celtics are about to embark on a series of huge games against the best teams in the league. In the next nine days we'll be facing the Mavericks, the Magic, the Lakers, AND the Heat...you know, just the cupcake teams of the league. Anyway, I decided that this would be a good time to check out how the Celtics tend to do against the best teams in the league. As I suspected, the results were pretty interesting.
The Celtics have gone 11 - 5 against the top 11 teams in the NBA this year by record. But three of those losses came with KG and/or Rondo out of the line-up, a fourth came when the team let down against the Thunder when Durant was hurt, and the fifth loss was the 2-point squeaker against the Mavericks that they'll be looking to avenge tonight. When you look at how the Lakers and Heat have struggled against the best competition, that's pretty impressive. But let's take it a step further and examine how the best players on our team perform against the best competition, as opposed to how they normally play.
|Player||Points||FG%||FT%||3-ptrs||Reb||Ast||Stl||Blk||TO||net +/- 36|
|Season Per 36||Garnett||17.4||53.3||83.3||0.0||10.4||2.6||1.9||0.9||1.8||10.0|
|Vs Top 11 Per 36||Garnett||18.6||57.9||84.0||0.0||11.0||3.2||2.3||0.6||2.0||15.0|
|Season Per 36||Pierce||20.0||51.2||85.0||1.5||5.3||3.4||1.1||0.6||2.0||10.3|
|Vs Top 11 Per 36||Pierce||18.1||51.5||90.6||1.2||5.1||2.7||0.7||0.6||1.9||11.5|
|Season Per 36||Allen||17.4||45.8||85.7||2.3||3.7||3.1||0.9||0.1||1.6||4.1|
|Vs Top 11 Per 36||Allen||17.7||53.4||92.7||2.3||2.9||2.6||0.8||0.0||1.3||5.9|
|Season Per 36||Rondo||10.3||51.5||51.6||0.2||4.3||12.1||2.3||0.2||3.8||8.9|
|Vs Top 11 Per 36||Rondo||11.1||49.1||53.3||0.0||5.3||14.4||3.3
As you can see, each of the Big 4 have been stepping up their games against better competition, which fits exactly with what I would have expected coming in. But the interesting thing to me is what parts of their games they step up. I've noticed that against the Heat or the Lakers, the Celtics seem to go into full-business-team-Voltron mode with a perfect distribution of responsibilities. Rondo becomes THE distributor. Allen and Pierce become THE shooters. KG becomes THE defensive anchor and interior finisher. And it runs like clockwork.
Now, go back and take another look at those performances against the top teams. Allen's, Garnett's and Pierce's shooting percentages go through the roof, as all of a sudden they're locked in and hitting the important shots. And those big shots are easier because Rondo's assists go off the charts. Meanwhile, as the wings look to score, Garnett and Rondo both shoulder slightly bigger loads as distributors, rebounders and defenders. Against the best, Voltron is formed.
And look at the bottom line result. Against the best teams, each of the Big 4's on-court/off-court +/- goes way up. They take it upon their shoulders to step it up against the big dogs, and it shows in both the box score and the +/- stats. Pretty cool.
Anyway, that is what the Cs have shown us so far this year. Over the next 9 days they'll be facing some big tests. And I, for one, will be watching avidly to see if our best players continue to step it up and lead the way against the other big dog teams in the league.