The tropes of playoff success are pushed into the psyche of each NBA fan advert nauseum by very good-looking podcasters and weblog boys alike. You understand them and may in all probability recite them earlier than I do.
The sport slows down.
You must deal with the ball.
The refs swallow their whistles.
There are actually others, however I think about all followers can agree that these are the large ones and with that in thoughts, I went out to my huge Twitter following and posed this query:
I believe half-court ORTG and DRTG. This provides as much as form of the half-court internet ranking. I imagine these translate properly.
In case you have a look at this season you’d have Sacramento to be the very best and actually no one is fearing Sacramento particularly as a result of their Protection
— Guilherme Theis (@GuilhermeTheis) April 2, 2023
I obtained an awesome response. Sure, there was just one response, however the content material was overwhelmingly useful. If you take these stats and replicate again on the frequent playoff tropes above, you begin to see a correlation which lastly brings us to what this text is about. Is there a manner to make use of stats to judge whether or not the Celtics fulfill the frequent tropes of playoff success? I hope so. In any other case, I’m losing a number of my very own time and yours.
“The sport slows down.”
Related Stats: Halfcourt ORTG, Halfcourt DRTG, Offensive and Defensive PPP in isolation
When somebody utters the phrase “the sport slows down,” what they’re actually saying is that the simple baskets many groups feed off of in transition are merely much less frequent in a playoff setting. Offenses are extra cautious, they clear up the foolish errors, and they’re much less aggressive attacking the offensive glass. All this provides as much as playoff video games, particularly throughout crunch time, being performed at a slower tempo and within the halfcourt. It additionally signifies that as offenses attempt to restrict errors, they run simpler stuff and find yourself stepping into isolation possessions extra typically.
So, to be able to consider how the Celtics would possibly stack up in a slower paced atmosphere, we’re going to have a look at two units of information: how they fare within the halfcourt on each ends, after which how they fare in isolation.
First, the excellent news. The Celtics are monsters within the halfcourt. Per the geniuses at Cleansing the Glass (who filter out rubbish time of their stats), the Cs have the third greatest halfcourt offensive ranking within the league at 103.4 factors per 100 possessions (that’s for those who filter out putbacks; for those who don’t, they’re nonetheless third at 118.3, however for the needs of this dialogue I’ll be focusing solely on the numbers the place putbacks filtered out).
The workforce main the league in halfcourt ORTG acquired Kyrie’d and isn’t even going to make the playoffs (sorry, Mavs followers). Second is Sacramento with their traditionally good offense and a workforce the Celtics are not possible to see within the playoffs. To place it in phrases even I can perceive, the Celtics are actually, actually good at scoring within the halfcourt.
Second, some much less excellent news, however nonetheless good. The Celtics’ halfcourt defensive ranking is a stable 97.5. That’s good for tenth (we’ll get to their rating together with putbacks in our subsequent part). There’s nearly actually some noise right here leftover from the early season the place the Celtics torrid capturing lined up a beneath common protection. Per NBA.com’s much less particular DRTG stat, the Cs have the very best defensive ranking within the league since January 1st. In different phrases, I believe the Celtics are a bit higher defending their very own half than this quantity reveals. To this point, so good.
Third, some kinda okay, some kinda not excellent news. When the sport slows down and offenses get much less artistic, you’ve got to have the ability to rating in isolation. The Celtics are fairly mediocre at that. That’s not precisely honest; that suggests there’s some doubt to how mediocre they’re.
They’re the definition of mediocre at scoring in isolation as they rank precisely fifteenth in factors per possession. I assumed this was seemingly as a result of one participant bogging down the workforce’s total common, and Sensible’s twenty fifth percentile on a single iso possession a sport actually doesn’t assist, it really seems their 3 most typical iso gamers are additionally profoundly mediocre as properly. Malcolm Brogdon, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum all rank between the 52nd (Brown) and sixtieth (Brogdon) percentile in factors per possession. The upside is that having three guys which can be fairly good to respectable in iso signifies that one in all them will have the ability to assault a weak defender (Jrue Vacation can’t guard all of them!), so there’s an argument that they’ll be a bit higher come playoff time.
Lastly, some unhealthy information. I received’t dwell on it as a result of I discover NBA.com’s defensive play sort knowledge to be wonky and inaccurate and since it makes the Celtics look unhealthy. The Celtics are twenty third in defensive iso factors per possession. They’re getting crushed when groups iso them, which is inexcusable given the entire defensive expertise on this workforce. The hope is that these points are principally effort primarily based and, thus, are merely an everyday season downside.
Trope compliance: B+
“You must deal with the ball.”
Related stats: Turnover % and Defensive Rebounding %
After I hear “we now have to deal with the ball” concerning the playoffs, I instantly assume turnovers, and that’s actually a big a part of it. However as I started to assume, and the out of form hamster that operates my cerebral cortex started to run, I spotted there’s one other side of this: ending defensive possessions. If a workforce is lazy on the defensive glass and offers up offensive boards, they aren’t valuing possession, and that’s on the very essence of caring for the ball. Therefore, we’re going to have a look at the Celtics’ turnover share and their defensive rebounding share on this part.
Ahh, turnovers, our merciless mistress from final offseason. The proverbial Snorlax blocking our path to a championship. I’ve flashbacks to Tatum and Brown driving proper into Draymond Inexperienced’s assist as three Warriors swipe down on the ball and dash the opposite course. Are we in for an additional irritating turnover wrought post-season, or have we discovered our pokeflute and the trail is obvious?
I can definitively say that I’m unsure. The upside is that the Celtics rank a really stable seventh in turnover share, in order that they deal with the ball significantly higher than many of the league. Final yr they have been thirteenth. Whereas that sounds nice, the gaps listed below are paper skinny. Final yr’s share was 13.9% and this yr’s 13.3%. Not an enormous distinction, however playoff video games are received on the margins, and even a slight enchancment can flip a detailed sport your manner. Maybe the regular hand of Malcolm Brogdon and the elevated comfortability of Derrick White can make sure that the advance interprets to the playoffs.
Nonetheless, one place the place the Celtics actually excel at caring for the ball is the defensive glass. They’re first in defensive rebound share within the league. No one ends defensive possessions higher than the Celtics. Keep in mind that halfcourt defensive ranking above? Nicely, for those who embody putbacks into the calculous, the Celtics leap from the tenth greatest halfcourt protection to the 4th. That’s extra prefer it. With Robert Williams getting more healthy and sure enjoying a much bigger load within the playoffs, I don’t see any motive it could’t keep that manner.
Trope compliance: A-
“The refs swallow their whistles.”
Related stat: share of factors from free throws
You’re by no means going to imagine this, however the Sixers lead the league within the share of their factors that come from the road. Surprising, I do know. The Pistons are second, which really is surprising.
If any trope is true in regards to the playoffs, it’s in all probability this one, until you’re Giannis Antetokounmpo. Really, for those who’re Giannis, they do swallow the whistle, it’s simply to disregard the thirteenth offensive foul you dedicated that quarter.
Regardless, as we all know, the Celtics shoot a number of threes. It in all probability comes as no shock then that little or no of their offense comes from free throws. They rank twenty sixth in share of factors from the road. That’s a little bit of a double-edged sword, form of like Giannis’s elbows, because it means they in all probability aren’t attending to the rim as a lot as different groups. The Cs rank fifteenth in drives per sport, so there’s some legs to that argument. That mentioned, the Celtics’ offense very a lot leaves their destiny in their very own fingers: they both make pictures or they don’t. There’s no requirement that the refs really name fouls when they need to.
The one hangup? Jayson Tatum. He’s the one man that will get a major quantity of his factors from the road, a shade beneath 24% (Derrick White is second at 16.6%). Are we nervous Tatum’s barely beneath common 3-point capturing will likely be compounded by an incapacity to get to the road within the playoffs? I’m not, largely to his improved ending by means of contact. It’s nonetheless actually one thing to trace, and it’s not prefer it’s not possible to get to the road within the playoffs. Simply ask Giannis.
Trope Compliance: A-
Like most issues, tropes are imperfect. However there’s fact to them, even when overstated at occasions. In case you have a look at the frequent tropes in regards to the playoffs, the Celtics certain seem like the very best workforce in basketball. In case you have a look at all the opposite methods we analyze basketball, like internet ranking or report or watching video games; properly, the Celtics certain look the very best workforce in basketball there to. Now, all they need to do is exit and show it.