The first four games of the season were losses. They featured a hodge podge of point guard play with Bradley handling the lions share. I searched for key stats that would help understand how Jordan Crawford and Phil Pressey have been the "difference" in these last three wins.
Some times you can't see the forest for the trees, so, that's what I'll start with.
The three wins:
Crawford/Pressey - 45 MPG - 36.8 FG% - 4 RPG - 7 AST/gm - 15 PPG
in the last 3 games C's have avg - 12.3 TOPG
The four losses:
Avery Bradley - 33 MPG - 37.8 PPG% - 2.5 RPG - 3 AST/gm - 10.75 PPG
in the four losses C's avg - 19.5 TOPG
The minutes are out of balance and, there are a host of other factors in the first four losses, but, our whining about the point guard situation was justified and Brad Stevens decision to heed our recommendations really shows you we have a keeper.
With this break down complete, I realized I had missed the point, or in this case, the "points." Stat breakdowns often overlook the obvious and that is just scoring more points than the other team:
In the four losses:
Opponents PPG 95.0
Celtics PPG 89.5
In the last three wins:
Opponents PPG 95.3
Celtics PPG 99.6
Crawford and Pressey's playing styles are polar opposites, but, both possess similar effective floor generalship. Bradley, who looks less than stellar in this post, was not responsible for being miscast in the first four games. In the last three his shooting percentage and PPG have improved markedly with him ensconced in his natural position. This fact combined with the above explains a great deal of his team's statistical improvement.
Crawford, regardless of recent boffo performances, is still a shooting guard, but, has adapted well enough while entertaining all of us with his madcap dribbling and no look over the shoulder three point attempts. His idiosyncrasies aside, our man Jordan Crawford is one, if not the Celtics' team leader. Effort, commitment and presence of mind are what men look for in their leaders and Crawford has it in all areas.
Phil Pressey, the son of coach and NBA defensive standout Paul Pressey, is not in any way intimidated by the bright lights in Miami or elsewhere. He has shown Mizou's 23-11 record last year was no fluke. While starting at point guard for the Tigers he had numerous big performances in "big" games and the last three nights have been no exception. The development process is underway with so far, solid results. Unlike his team mate Crawford, Phil Pressey is a "natural" point guard.
The point guard play has improved dramatically and so have the Celtic's fortunes. The margin for error is small, but, this team should continue to be fully engaged in games until the last second, or fraction thereof, for the rest of the season.
On a note separate from this post, I would like to ask the big time media to refrain from labeling the Celtic's a "young team." Three rookies (one of whom has played pro ball for 7 years) are getting minutes in a ten man rotation. We are watching the development of a solid veteran team with a coach who has built a very competitive defense.
Championship contenders already know that a defensive minded, veteran team with nothing to lose, is a dangerous team indeed.