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Celtics Clutch Offense: Non-Big Three, and the Importance of Tony and Leon

**Update: Good news, given the info below: The Globe is reporting TA is coming back tonight, earlier than expected! Hat tip: CelticsBlog.

A couple of weeks ago, we looked at the Celtics offense in the 30 games (at that point in the season–after Game 64) in which the scoring margin had been three points or less at some point in the fourth quarter. Though the stats aren’t perfect, they confirmed some things we knew about the C’s offense in “clutch” fourth quarters (the C’s lean heavily on the Truth) and told us some things we may not have known (the team’s clutch efficiency is nearly identical to its overall efficiency; Ray Allen shoots more threes than twos in the “clutch”). 

Today, we’ll look at the non-Big Three’s shooting stats in these same 30 games (which run through mid-March):

                         2PT FGs                    3PT FGs                         FTs                   Mins (Games)**

Rondo             25-55 (45%)                0-1                              20-28            212:30 (30)

House             9-27 (33%)                  20-50 (40%)                 4-4                219:04 (29)

T. Allen          17-29 (59%)                 0-3                              13-16            104:59 (19)

Baby               17-41 (41%)                 0-1                              18-25            186:54 (29)

Powe              20-35 (57%)                 0-0                               18-27           194:35 (30)

Perk               6-10 (60%)                    0-0                               5-8               133:57 (28)

**I only took out games in which a player missed the game due to injury or was unavailable for some other reason; if they were healthy and rode the pine in the 4th, that counted as zero minutes played. All minutes data from Popcorn Machine’s genius Game Flow.

Some quick conclusions here:

• House has played the most minutes and jacked up by far the most shots; in fact, he leads the team in 4th quarter minutes this season overall, and, in this sample, attempted only four fewer three-pointers than Ray Allen. (See Ray’s “clutch” stats in this post).

• Doc has played Perk fewer minutes per game in these 30 quarters (and five overtimes) than four key bench players.

• Tony Allen and Leon Powe are/were important cogs in the Celtics offense in fourth quarter games. Here’s another way to look at the data in that chart:

                                  Min/G                        FGA/Min                    FTA/Min

Rondo                         7:05                            0.26                       0.13

House                          7:35                            0.35                       0.02

T. Allen                       5:30                            0.28                       0.16

Baby                            6:25                            0.22                       0.13

Powe                           6:30                            0.18                       0.14

Perk                             4:45                           0.07                        0.06

All of this shows that Allen was gradually coming along as an offensive player, and that Doc was likely grooming him for James Posey’s role as a fourth-quarter bench player capable of scoring points while the starters rest (typically in the early fourth). In this sample, TA attempted field goals more often than anyone but House and attempted free throws more often than anyone. In fact, before his first major injury on Jan. 4, Tony had attempted more foul shots in “clutch” fourth quarters (13 FTAs in 14 games) than anyone on the team other than Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. 

As for Powe, his free throw attempts/36 minute rate is the highest on the team–even higher than Pierce’s

This is not meant to be a doom and gloom post; I am not trying to argue that the Celtics can’t win close games without these guys. Of course they can–especially if KG’s healthy. (If he’s not, the loss of Powe’s scoring ability down low becomes a bigger blow). After all, Tony Allen played only 65 minutes through the entire playoffs last season, so he’s far from a proven playoff second unit scorer. 

But the numbers show that Doc was getting TA ready to shoulder a larger offensive role in close games, and that TA was rising–gradually and fitfully–to that challenge. 

I also suspect that if I looked at the “clutch” fourth quarters in the last 10 games, I’d find that Rondo has taken a larger scoring role. Perhaps that’s a project for the coming days.

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