I tabulated the numbers from the Celtics-Magic series to see how Boston’s performance dropped off and pinpoint why the C’s are home for the summer.
VS MAGIC REG SEASON
Offensive Efficiency 104.0 110.5
Defensive Efficiency 108.2 102.3
Pace (Possessions/game) 88.7 90.4
Three-point % 29% 40%
Opp. Three-point % 34.6% 34.9%
Two-point % 48.4% (29-60) 51% (31-61)
Off Reb % 22.9% 27.9%
Def Reb % 80% 75.6%
TO/g 13.7 15.6
Opponents TO/g 12.7 14.6
So, it appears the single biggest reason the Celtics lost this series was their inability to hit three-point shots. Other than the huge drop in three-point accuracy, the Celtics offensive statistics weren’t much different than they were in the regular season; their two-point percentage remained about the same and their turnovers per possession dropped. Other stats I haven’t shown here (such as free throw attempts for the Celtics and their opponents) didn’t change much–if at all–from the regular season.
The drop in defensive efficiency looks bad, but Orlando’s 108 points per 100 possessions in this series was actually lower than its regular season scoring rate of 109.2 per 100 possessions. The Celtics couldn’t cripple an opponent’s offense as they did during last year’s playoffs, but they remained a staunch defensive team.
1) The other big drop-off occurred on the offensive glass. The C’s ranked eighth in the regular season by grabbing 27.9 percent of their misses; their mark against the Magic (22.9 percent) would have ranked 29th in the NBA, ahead of only the Spurs. That is the Howard Effect.
2) I wonder if a more precise breakdown of those two-point shots would show the Celtics attempted fewer shots at the rim and made a lower percentage of those attempts. I’d bet money it would. Any unemployed fan want to tackle that?
The main culprit from deep was obviously Ray Allen, who shot a dismal 8-of-42 (19 percent) on what we know now was a bad hamstring. (Side note: Red’s Army gives the Celtics props for not mentioning the injuries as an excuse during the post-season. I actually had the opposite reaction–that it looked a little unseemly to toss out a team-wide injury update 36 hours after the team lost Game 7. It sort of felt like Doc was saying, “You know, we couldn’t say this during the series for tactical reasons, but you should know we were facing these problems.” Then again, I understand they owe their fans an injury update–especially if players are going to have surgery.)
Pierce (7-of-21) and Rondo (2-of-15) also fared poorly from deep. It’s the Rondo number that stands out at me. He took a bit less than one three-pointer per game this season, and he doubled that against the Magic. When teams dared Rajon to shoot threes during the regular season, he responded by attacking the rim even more aggressively. He could not do that against the Magic. I suspect, again, that Howard is the main reason.
The Magic’s three-point percentage from three ended up near 35 percent after their barrage in Game 7. That would have ranked near the bottom of the league, but it’s not an out of the ordinary percentage for a team to shoot over a seven games against a solid opponent. In other words, the Magic weren’t just “cold” from deep for seven games. Overall, their inability to put up above average offensive numbers–and 108 points per 100 possessions is average in the NBA–against a wounded C’s defense does not bode well for their chances against a healthy, rested Cleveland team.