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Explaining The Celtics First Half Of The Season With Nothing But 41 Facts

The beauty of this time of year is we have enough of a sample size to start to form some legit opinions of this team. I do find it funny that when things are going well people love to scream "sample size!" as a way to discredit what we are seeing, but when things are a disaster for that same sample size that is truly who they are and what will dictate their postseason success. The truth is things are probably somewhere in the middle. The beauty of this blog is there is nothing subjective about it. There is no arguing any of the 41 facts that you are about to read because they are....facts. You don't have to like them, you don't have to accept them, but they are what they are both good and bad. Some of these surprised me, there were definitely some that angered me, but that's pretty normal with this team. How would I describe the first half of the Celtics season? Well...

1. At 27-14 the Celtics own the 8th best winning percentage in the NBA and are on pace for 53 wins.

2. Despite it looking beyond pathetic for the past two weeks, the Celts currently have the 6th best offense in the NBA. Their 111.5 rating is the highest it's ever been under Brad, and marks the 4 time in 7 seasons he's had a top 10 offense. Considering the Celts have never been able to really shoot for what feels like his entire tenure, this always surprises me.

3. The Celtics are 1 of 2 teams in the entire NBA with three players averaging at least 20 points per game. The only other team to achieve that is the Clippers.

4. Against the top 3 seeds from each conference, the Celtics sit at 5-4. They are currently 7-8 against teams over .500, which is the second most losses among the top 4 seeds in the East. 

5. They also have the second most losses against teams under .500 among the top 4 in the East with 6.

6. Both Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are shooting over 51% from the floor and 40% from three in clutch situations while averaging the most clutch minutes on the team.

7. After starting the first month of the season shooting just 50% in the restrictive area, Jayson Tatum has jumped to 64.4% since Thanksgiving.

8. Before breaking his hand, Gordon Hayward was 2nd on the team with 11.5 drives per game shooting 63.4% on those drives. Since returning from his hand injury that number has dropped to 8.9 drives per game shooting 50.8%

9. The Celtics rank 14th in total rebounding, 15th in DREB, 10th in OREB 

10. Opponents average just 104.9 points against this Celtics defense which is 3rd in the league, but they are 10th in opponent FG%, 13th in opponent 3PM, and 12th in opponent 3p%.

11. Marcus Smart's 75 3PM are third on the team and more than Jaylen Brown, despite playing 3 fewer games. He has over double the amount of Gordon Hayward while playing only 7 more games. His 35.6% from three is essentially the same as Jayson Tatum (35.6%).

12. Enes Kanter current has the second highest DREB% of his career (30.5) and has tied his highest overall REB% of his career at 23.6%.

13. The Celtics rank 3rd in unassisted 3PM with 28.9% of their threes coming without an assist. Only Portland and Houston rank higher. 

14. Jayson Tatum is taking 3.5 midrange shots a game this season and shooting 37.9%. That is basically identical to his 2018-19 season in which he shot 3.5 a game and finished 36.6%. The big drop is in restricted area, where went from 63.1% to 53% so far this season.

15. Jaylen Brown has the highest FT rate of his career (30%) and the highest FT% of his career at 75%. This season he already has 118 FTM compared to the 133 he had in 74 games last season.

16. The Celtics rank 26th in first quarter points and 21st in first quarter offense.

17. They are also the 2nd best offense in the second half of games at 115.9, and 2nd in the NBA in second half points at 57.7. Only the Bucks are better.

18. Kemba Walker has the 5th highest PER among point guards in the NBA at 21.95

19. The bench is scoring just 28.5 points a night which is 28th in the NBA. Their 44.6% FG% is good for 16th. From three, they are among the worst in the league at 29.9%, which is 28th.

20. Marcus Smart leads the team in catch and shoot jumpers per game at 4.3 and is shooting 30%. Both Jaylen and Gordon shoot 40% and Tatum 35%. Kemba is the best of the bunch at 45%, but also takes the fewest at just 2.8 a game.

21. With a net rating of 6.0 the Celtics rank 5th in the league and 2nd in the East.

22. Jayson Tatum is 8th in the NBA in real plus/minus. Last year he finished the season 82nd.

23. With his 20/6 averages shooting 49% from the field, only LeBron/Giannis/AD/KAT are currently putting up the production we've seen from Jaylen Brown this season.

24. The Celtics offense and defense drops when Marcus Smart is on the floor. Offensive rating dips 4.1 points and Drtg increases 1.1 points

25. With Gordon Hayward on the court Jayson Tatum's restricted FG% is better (63.6 vs 55.4), his corner three shooting is better (58 vs 30), his above the break three point shooting is better (46 vs 32), and midrange the same (37 vs 37). With Jaylen his paint scoring is better (50 vs 46%), his corner three shooting is better (66.7 vs 57) and his above the break three is better (40.5 vs 37).

26. Grant Williams is shooting 19% from three. Carsen Edwards is shooting 30%. Tremont Waters is shooting 14%. Romeo Langford is shooting 22%. Not great!

27. Tacko Fall is averaging 29.1/17.1 with 3.4 blocks Per36 this season.

28. The Celtics are 21st in FGM with 1,679 which is just 2 FGM more than the Warriors. The rank 17th in 3PM with 491, which is 1 more 3PM than the Hawks.

29. Opponents are shooting 51% while being guarded by Kemba Walker, which is 7% points better than their overall FG of 44%. That's the worst of all regular rotation players.

30. Daniel Theis has a 48.6% BLK% which is currently better than the following centers that play at least 22 minutes (what he plays): Clint Capela, Anthony Davis, Steven Adams, Jaren Jackson Jr, Bam Adebayo, Joel Embiid, Marc Gasol, Montrezl Harrell, Aron Baynes, KAT, Serge Ibaka, 

31. As a starter, Marcus Smart actually shoots worse (37/35%) then when he comes off the bench (38/35%). His Ortg is better as a reserve, 115 vs 110 with slightly better defense as well. 

32. The Celtics have the 2nd most wins in the East in games decided by 10 points or more.

33. As of today, the Celtics have had the 29th hardest schedule. They have the 8th hardest schedule in the league to finish the season.

34. Jaylen Brown leads all regular rotation players in points per touch at 0.409. HIs 48.8 touches per game is fewer than Kemba, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, and Gordon Hayward. 

35. The lineup of Kemba/Jaylen/Hayward/Tatum/Theis has played the second most minutes together and is outscoring opponents by +10.5 points. Swapping Hayward for Smart sees that number drop to +6.8

36. With Brad Wanamaker on the floor, the offensive rating of the team drops from 114.8 to 109.2

37. Jayson Tatum leads the team in defensive win shares at 2.2. The next closes is Jaylen Brown at 1.6

38. In 1,148 minutes, Kemba Walker has 1 offensive foul

39. In 7 back to backs this season, the Celtics are 3-4, average their lowest points at 107.9 as well as their fewest assists (20.4)

40. With a 23-16-2 record ATS this season, the Celtics 59% cover percentage is the 3rd best in the NBA.

41. So far in January the Celtics are allowing 112.6 points a game, which is more than 10 points from what they gave up in December and 6 points more than their season average. They are 4-6.

So what does all this mean? Well, recent events are for sure going to make things seem much worse than they actually are when looking at the bigger picture. On the whole, a 54 win pace, in contention for a top 2 seed and the Jays flourishing combined with All Star Kemba production is pretty much better than we all thought heading into the year. It's not all good, and it's important to acknowledge where this team has sucked ass, but through 41 games there are certainly worse spots to be in.