Largely due to the fact that I'm semi deranged when it comes to the Celts, I spend the off days in between games looking at the most random shit when it comes to this team. For a lot of people it may be a waste of time but for me shit like this literally consumes my brain. It's all I think about. Always has been always will be. So today I was looking around at how this team has done so far in their series against the Raptors and a few things stood out. Some a pleasant surprise, some down right shocking and not in a positive way. I figured if you were like me and you also were interested in this stuff you might be interested in what I found.
In the playoffs, the Celts have the 2nd best defense in the bubble. In the date range of their second round series it's the #1 defense with a 95.5 rating. They've been nails against the Raptors, I think we can all agree there.
But did you know they are 2nd to last in deflections? Only 8.5 a game. That feels really weird since during the regular season they were 3rd in the NBA at 16.7. That means they are basically deflecting half as many passes in this series yet their defense has never been better in terms of rating. I feel like that doesn't usually go hand in hand.
It's basically nonexistent. You know why Brad is stressing moving the ball in this series? Because the Celts currently rank in the 26th percentile in isolation basketball in the playoffs. That stinks and is a big time drop from their 86th percentile ranking during the year. That makes some sense given that defenses get better in the playoffs, but given the offensive firepower of Kemba/Tatum/Jaylen etc I did not expect them to be that poor. We really haven't seen them succeed when guys go to iso outside of a couple daggers from Kemba late in games.
The Celts had a 83 Drtg in their clutch minutes last night. So when Brad says this
he's not lying. I will go to my grave believing that elite defense is the key to this team's success, and that's even more true when you get into clutch situations. I knew what my eyes were seeing, but the data backed it up. The Raptors had 0/0% shooting splits in the clutch minutes of yesterday's game. That's wild.
In this series Kemba is driving the ball around 11 times a game and shooting 57% on those drives. Pretty good. But did you know he has not taken a single FTA as a result of these drives? Who could have predicted that? Kemba drawing contact on drives is one of his best skills and he has not taken even 1 FTA on those this series. During the year he averaged around 10.6 drives and just under 2 FTA if you were curious.
One more thing on Kemba
Outside of driving to the basket, another staple of Kemba's game is his pull up jumper. So far in this series that has been a disaster. He takes about 10 a game which is close to double any other Celtic not named Jayson Tatum and he's shooting just 35/23% on pull up jumpers. Keep your eye on that as something that might come back to normal in the back half of this series. If Kemba can get that shot back to being an efficient weapon, look out.
Catch & Shoot threes
Marcus Smart is averaging 5.5 catch and shoot threes in this series and he's shooting 55.5%. I don't know how to explain it, I don't want to explain it, and I know there will most likely be some regression there. We were wondering who might step up in Hayward's absence and I don't think anyone predicted it would be Marcus Smart as a catch and shoot threat. Insane.
On the flip side, Semi is shooting 16%.
Through two games the Celtics have had a total of 1 recorded post up. They haven't taken a single post up shot. Theis owns it and he drew a foul. You would think that at some point where they really needed a bucket they would have at least a couple, but nope. Not a single damn post up FGA. Welcome to the NBA in 2020.
I could go on but you get the idea. While it's great the Celts are up 2-0, there are some weird things going on. Things you would expect to be great have been anything but, and things you would have expected to be terrible are weirdly awesome? I don't know if it means anything, Game 3 could be wildly different, but it all helps tell the story of how this team built their early series lead.