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Celtics-Bulls, By the Numbers


Charts are fun!

                                               Bulls Bloodbath                                  Regular Season

Offensive Eff.                                  110.1                                                  110.5

Defensive Eff.                                  105.9                                                  102.3

Pace                                                  92.6                                                    90.4

Effective FG%                                    49.5                                                    52.3

Turnover %                                        11.6                                                    15.0

Defensive eff. FG%                             48.3                                                    47.0

Defensive Reb. %                              75.7                                                    75.6

FT Attempts/FG attempts (def.)       .277                                                     .253

So what happened? Well, the Celtics defense played a little bit worse than it did in the regular season. But not a lot worse. That defensive efficiency rating would have placed Boston 7th in the NBA over the course of the first 82. The dip is the result of two things: the Bulls shot three-pointers at an above average rate for a Boston opponent and they got to the foul line more often. The Bulls hit 38 percent of their three-pointers; during the regular season, Boston’s opponents made 34.9 percent of three-point attempts–the fifth-best defensive mark in the league. (For comparison’s sake, Golden State opponents hit 38 percent of their threes, a mark that ranked 25th in the NBA). 

As for foul shots, the quickness of the Bulls guards and small forwards clearly gave Boston problems. Gordon, Salmons, Rose and Hinrich all attempted more free throws per game than they did in the regular season, though the per game numbers are obviously skewed by the overtimes and the small sample size. Gordon’s FTAs/g jumped the most–from 4.7 to 8.0–while Rose actually attempted just 0.5 more foul shots per game despite 12 trips to the line in Game 1.

Luckily for Boston, the Magic back court is not nearly as dynamic as Chicago’s. Of course, the front court is a different story. 

Other team stat notes:

• Would you look at the Boston Celtics all of a sudden taking care of the basketball! You know where that 11.6 turnover rate would have ranked the C’s in regular season? First! In the entire league! For the playoffs, when turnover rates generally decrease (note: if you haven’t read the post linked there from At the Hive, a Hornets blog, go now), the C’s rank second, behind only the dearly departed Spurs. 

Disturbing Offensive Stat of the Series: Boston’s two-point field goal percentage: 45.7 percent. In the regular season, that number was 51.0 percent. What happened? The Celtics maintained a good offensive rating because they hit an absurd 42 percent of their threes and took care of the ball. 

Can they sustain those numbers against Orlando? Well, the Magic don’t force a lot of turnovers–they had the sixth-lowest opponent turnover rate during the regular season. But they do guard the three-pointer well; Magic opponents hit just 34.2 of their threes, the second-lowest mark in the league. Boston cannot cannot count on another barrage of threes against Orlando. They will have to do better in the mid-range game and in the paint.

Allow me to criticize Doug Collins, whom I normally enjoy. Collins went on and on in this series about how the Bulls lured the Celtics into a fast-paced tempo, citing the C’s increased number of field goal attempts (over 90 in this series, compared to 77 in the regular season) as his primary evidence. He only noted as an aside that the seven freaking overtimes may have had something to do with this.

Luckily, we have pace factor, which measures the number of possessions teams use per 48 minutes. You see the pace factor in this series was 92.2, and that’s indeed higher than the C’s 90.4 pace factor from the first 82. But it’s also lower than the Bulls regular season pace (94.0 possessions per 48) and just a smidgen above league average (91.7) in the regular season. 

So, yes, the series was played at a faster pace than a normal Boston game. But let’s cool it a little bit with the tempo talk.

In any case, we’re now done with Chicago, thank god. Later today, I may award a series MVP for Boston, but after that, it’s all Magic, all the time.

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