May 6, 2012; Boston, MA USA; Boston Celtics small forward Paul Pierce (34) drives the ball against the Atlanta Hawks in the third quarter of game four in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-US PRESSWIRE
The Celtics are very predictable in some ways. They play great defense, they don't rebound the ball, they get a good amount of assists (thanks to Rondo), and they typically turn the ball over a lot. That last one might be changing a bit in these playoffs.
Compared to their regular season number, (where Boston averaged 15 turnovers per game), during four games against Atlanta, the C’s have averaged just 12.5 miscues a contest. Now, that number can be somewhat misleading given the slower pace teams play at in the postseason, but here’s a number which is not. Boston has turned the ball over on just 12.7 of their possessions so far, a substantial drop from their regular season mark of 14.7. That 12.7 number would have placed them among the league’s elite (2nd place) over a full 66-game season in protecting the ball. It is a small sample size, but for a team that has languished in the basement of the league in turnover percentage for nearly five years now, that’s nothing to sneeze at, especially in the postseason against a team in Atlanta with a good track record of forcing the issue defensively.
By the way, a quick glance at the stats tells me that the Celtics are rebounding the ball at a much higher rate as well. During the season they averaged 38.8 boards (good for dead last in the league) and through 4 games they are up to 43.5 which puts them in the middle of the pack of postseason participants.
They are still dead last in offensive rebounds, but as has been pointed out countless times, that's by design - with Doc telling his guys to get back on defense instead of hitting the glass on offense. And, realtime blogging here folks, whaddayaknow - the Celtics are actually the BEST defensive rebounding team in the playoffs with a gaudy 38 boards per game - up from 31.1 in the regular season. The next best rebounding team in the playoffs? That would be the Hawks with 34.5 per game. Hmmm, methinks the lesson here is that this first round series has been brick city thus far. Stats rule.