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The Trouble With Numbers

Statistics are great when they help tell the story. Sometimes they don't. Now that we're nearing the half-way point of the regular season with approximately 45% of the games in the books, it might be appropriate to take a look at the Celtics' competitors, determine who their peers are, and try to figure out whether they are better, worse, and why.

Based on an unbelievably unextensive research process, we can see that the Celtics share a lot in common with two other teams- the Washington Wizards and the Orlando Magic. Anecdotally, they share some common characteristics with the C's- they're perpetually in that "We're rebuilding/No, we're competing" phase, they all have a lot of young kids running around, they're all high scoring, all are primarily perimeter teams, and they're all experiencing a bit of a resurgence that could land them in the playoffs. So why, as of 1/19/05, are the Celtics 17-20 while the Wiz and Magic are 22-15 and 21-16, respectively? To wit:

1. All three have scoring totals that are approximiately 1/2 a point higher than their opponents.

2. All three have FG, FT, and 3PT percentages that are on par with their opponents.

3. All three are terrible rebounding teams.

4. All three average fewer assists per game than their opponents.

With the exception of #1, you would think that all of these teams would be bottom dwellers.

There are only four other teams with scoring totals where there is less than one point diffference between them and their opponent, and Chicago is the only other one in the East (And Chicago is a bit of an anomaly, given their slow start and recent streak).

Because these three teams are statistically so close to both each other and their opponents, what do you think will happen in the second half of the season? Since statistically they're practically indistinguishable, will the law of averages kick in and we see the Celtics finish seven or eight games over .500 in the second half, or is there something deeper at work here?

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