“I like math.” - Joe Mazzulla
This is a continuation of my 20-game rule article where I wanted to focus solely on statistics (because there are a lot of them). All stats from the NBA.com stats site.
Starting with the team’s record. 16-4 means they are winning 80% of their games. That puts them on pace for 65.6 wins (feel free to round up) over an 82-game schedule. They are first in the standings for the whole NBA. Not too shabby.
The Celtics offense is (as the kids say) a wagon.
- 120.4 points per game (1st)
- 119.9 Offensive Rating (1st)
- 62.5 True Shooting % (1st)
- 58.5 Effective FG% (1st)
The Celtics got an absurd 1.383 points per possession in their win Sunday (and did it without Jayson Tatum).— Sean Grande (@SeanGrandePBP) November 28, 2022
And while these numbers don't feel sustainable, the Celtics through 20 games are simply lapping the all-time NBA field as the best offense in the history of ever. pic.twitter.com/FCagIIf9Ui
Boston's offensive rating in the halfcourt is 108.7— Shane Young (@YoungNBA) November 28, 2022
It's the best offense of the last 20 years, relative to league-average
More @ForbesSports:https://t.co/mIeHoStiLf pic.twitter.com/BGd5Klle9q
The Celtics’ 119.9 points scored per 100 possessions are 2.6 more than the highest mark in league history (that of the 2020-21 Nets) and 8.1 more than the league average, what would be the third biggest differential in the 27 seasons of play-by-play data. Though this has been the most efficient season in NBA history league-wide, there are two teams — the Hawks and Bulls — who’ve only once scored at least 119.9 per 100 in a game this season.
Much has been made (including by myself) about the step back in defensive prowess. What that really means is that the Celtics were historically great last season and ...are not this season. Some of that is due to missing Robert Williams III and some of it seems to be the emphasis and effort devoted to offense this year.
- 112.2 Defensive Rating (17th) - note: they are 9th in the league over the last 15 games
- 5.6 Steals (30th)
- 5.4 Blocks (11th)
- 15.7 Opponent points off turnovers (5th)
- 13.2 Opponent second chance points (12th)
- 12.0 Opponent fast break points (7th)
- 48.0 Opponent points in the paint (14th)
- 7.7 Net Rating (1st)
- 7.1 Plus-Minus (1st)
- 49.0% FG% (4th)
- 40% 3 pt FG% (1st)
- 47.4% Percent of shots taken from 3 pt (3rd)
- 16.4 3 point makes off of 40.9 attempts (both 2nd in the league behind the Warriors)
- 85.2% FT% (1st)
- 26.7 Assists (11th)
- 62.9% Assist % (10th)
- 2.03 Assist to Turnover Ratio (2nd)
From the Sultan of Stat, Dick Lipe...— Steve Bulpett (@SteveBHoop) November 28, 2022
Tonight was the Celtics' 12th consecutive game with 25 or more assists. It's the first time that's happened since 1990.
That's 32 years and one gym ago. (Celts played in the old Garden through the 1994-95 season.)
If there’s room for improvement anywhere, it might be in team rebounding (something Robert Williams III might help a bit with).
- 41.8 Rebounds (25th)
- 49.2% Rebound % (21st)
- 22.5% Offensive Rebound % (29th)
- 73.4% Defensive Rebound % (6th) - silver lining there
I know that turnovers are still a sensitive subject given how the Finals played out. Sometimes they still crop up from time to time, but in the aggregate the numbers are very respectable.
- 13.2 Turnovers (4th)
- 13.1% Turnover % (4th)
- 15.7 Opponent points off turnovers (5th) - repeated from above
There are some nits you can pick and areas of growth you could point to with this team. Sometimes winning in the regular season can cover over bad habits that could bite us in a playoff series. That will be up to the coaching staff to work on over the last 3⁄4 of the season.
Still, a fully healthy Celtics team could be quite the force in the playoffs. They’ve shown that they can beat teams in a variety of ways. They’ve shown their offense is a machine. There’s even reason to believe that (when they need to) they can reach back and capture that smothering defensive identity from last year as well.
Overall, it is hard to find fault with a 1st place team. But that’s just the first 20 games. Here’s hoping they can win the last game of the playoffs this time through.