Winning the 4th

If there is one thing that differentiates this team from its predecessor last year, it is the manner in which they close games. Anecdotally, last year it was easy to see that the Celtics had difficulty closing games and holding leads in the fourth quarter, especially late in the fourth. But this year's squad, through an eighth of the season, while playing a decently tough schedule, does not have such issues. In fact, it's quite the opposite.

Boston this year, as a team, has a 4th quarter +/- of +4.1. The mark is the best in the league by a wide margin with the team in 2nd place, Atlanta, at just +3.2. It is the Celtics second best quarter after the 1st quarter where the C's average a massive +6.1. By the way, the Celtics are positive in the +/- stat for every quarter they play, but those facts are probably needed to be discussed in their own post, but one small comment, I love that the Celtics start and end games dominantly.

Jaylen Brown mentioned post game after the Celtics big win over New York that the team is concentrating on closing out every quarter strong, because that wins games. I agree, but even more importantly, closing games by winning fourth quarters also really helps.

Some 4th quarter Celtic stats with league rank and then last year's numbers to compare to:

Stat: 2023-24(Rank). 2022-23(Rank)

+/-: +4.1(1st). 0.6 (10th)

Points: 32.1(2nd). 26.7(21st)

FG%: 51.5%(2nd). 46.8(13th)

3PT%: 40.7%(6th). 36.6%(6th)

Rebs: 12.9(5th). 10.5(16th)

TOV: 3.2(9th). 3.7(17th)

TS%: 64.5%(3rd). 60%(5th)

Net Rating: 16.4(1st). 6.7(1st)

By any metric you look at, especially offensively, whether you look at it as individual team stats or as a collection, the Celtics are dominating 4th quarters. And that's even including the absolutely clunker of a 4th quarter the Celtics bench laid in the Washington game.

The Celtics have had some fairly easy 4th quarters due to them running up huge leads through 3 quarters, but that's not going to be the norm. They will have to perform against the better and best teams in the 4th quarter to win a title and so far, so good on that front as they have won 4th quarters against their toughest competitors all season long, losing just two 4th quarters all year, to Washington and to NY in the season opener(where the team had a 9 point lead, lost it then rallied late to win). Other than that, against the best competition, Boston has been king of the 4th, as a team.

Now, yes, it's just ten games and it's a small sample size, but if the team continues to show the strength and resilience to protect and expand leads in the 4th quarter, it's going to go a long way to hanging banner number 18.

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