It’s a recipe for disaster: giving up a good shooting percentage and allowing a lot of offensive rebounds. In Game, the Lakers shot 48.7 percent from the floor and rebounded 12 of their 39 misses—an offensive rebounding rate of about 31 percent. To put that in perspective, only two teams recorded offensive rebounding rates of better than 30 percent this season—Memphis (31.3) and Detroit (30.3).
So Boston, an elite defense, allowed Los Angeles to shoot well and dominate the offensive glass. A good team can win when allowing one of those things to happen, but not both.
How rarely do teams pull off this dubious double against Boston?
Well, the C’s have played 304 games since KG and Ray Allen arrived in Boston. In a totally unscientific data dive, I decided to see how often in those 304 games a Boston opponent has hit at least 48 percent from the floor and collected 10 or more offensive rebounds.
Here’s what I found:
It has happened 17 times in the regular season, according to Basketball-Reference. Boston’s record: 5-12
And it has happened seven times in the playoffs. Boston’s record: 1-6.
So that’s 24 games out of 304—or about 8 percent of all Celtics games over the last three seasons. And as you can see, Boston is now 6-18 in those 24 games.
The Los Angeles Lakers accomplished something unusual last night in decimating Boston’s defense with their shooting and their rebounding, with much of the latter built on aggressive dribble penetration from Kobe, Jordan Farmar and others.
Some other nuggets:
• The Basketball-Reference data shows how sharply Boston’s defense declined during the 2010 regular season. Of those 17 games mentioned above, 10 happened in the 2009-10 season, meaning opponents did the 48 percent/10 offensive rebound thing in just seven games combined over the prior two regular seasons.
• Before the series, Brian Robb highlighted the fact that the Lakers held opponents to 32.8 percent shooting on threes this season, the lowest mark in the league. The Suns, the most accurate three-point shooting team in the NBA, shot almost exactly 33 percent in six games against LA’s defense in the Western Conference Finals.
The C’s, meanwhile, had been hitting their threes coming into this series. They hit 41 percent against the Magic and 38.4 percent overall for the playoffs—the best mark of all post-season teams.
The three-point battle would clearly be a crucial battleground in the Finals, and the Lakers won it emphatically in Game 1; Boston hit just 1-of-10 from three.
How unusual is that?
In those same 304 games since the KG and Ray trades, Boston has it 0 or 1 three-pointers in seven regular-season games and five post-season games, according to Basketball-Reference. That’s 12 total games, which represents just 2.3 percent of all Boston games over the last three seasons.
Again: Some very unusual things happened in Game 1. In order for Boston to get back in this series, all of these trends are going to have swing back to the mean—and well beyond it.