Alright, here we are, at the quarter pole of the NBA season. That happened quick. Things are a little weird, different teams have played a number of different games, some teams have been big time boned from health and safety protocols, some teams have been without their best players, but all in all we're starting to get a sense of what this season might look like.
I look at the NBA season the following way
The First Quarter: Identify trends
The First Half: Determine which trends are real
The Playoffs: Hope for the best and prepare for pain
No matter what team in the league you choose, nothing we've seen up until now guarantees anything come the postseason. That's not really how this works. But there are certain things you should take note of given that most teams have played around 18 games, or a quarter of their season.
Which brings me to the Boston Celtics. If I had to give their first 18 games a grade, it's probably like a C+/B-. Maybe that's a little harsh given what they've had to deal with in terms of games being postponed, their best players being out for long stretches etc, but that feels right. At 10-8 their record kind of stinks due to blowing way too many winnable games, but considering they have the 4th highest winning percentage in the East and are right in line with basically every contender in the conference, it's not a DISASTER or anything like that. It's been annoying above anything else, at least to me. But I understand this is subjective. You know what isn't though? Stone cold stats. So that's what you're about to get. Some are positive, some aren't, but they tell the truth about what we've seen from this team over the first quarter of the season. It'll be interesting to see how these might change once we do this same exercise at the halfway point.
Let's dive in
1. The Boston Celtics currently own a top 10 offense (10th), a top 10 defense (10th), and a top 10 net rating (8th)
2. Of their 10 wins, only 1 has come in their own division (1-4)
3. They are tied with BKN for the most losses in close games of any top 7 seed (3), while having the most losses against teams .500 or better (6) than any other team that is also in the top 6
4. The Celts are the only team other than the Nets to have two players in the top 12 in scoring
5. When it comes to 4th quarter scoring, the Celtics are averaging 25.1 points which is good for 27th in the NBA
6. The only players in the NBA to put up at least Jaylen's 27.1/5.3/3.5 on the season are Kevin Durant, Giannis, Steph Curry, and Luka Doncic. When you factor in his 53/44% shooting, no other current NBA player is producing what Jaylen has done through the first quarter.
7. The Celtics bench currently ranks 24th in points at 33.6 while shooting 47.6% (4th) from the floor and 38% from three (8th)
8. Jeff Teague is 2nd on the team in +/- at +59
9. In terms of second half turnovers, the Celts rank 25th with 7.9 a game which is tied with the Cavs
10. Marcus Smart is shooting just 36.8% at the rim and 28.8% on above the break threes. On the flip side, he's shooting 50% in the paint, 56.7% from midrange, 50% from the right corner and 45.5% from the left corner
11. Robert Williams' 69% BLK% is currently higher than Domantas Sabonis, Nikola Jokic, Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid, Steven Adams, Andre Drummond, Clint Capela, and Jarrett Allen. That's at least 4 guaranteed All Stars and two leading candidates for MVP.
12. Despite that, the Celts currently rank 18th in opponent's points in the paint and 28th in opponent's second chance points.
13. Opponents are shooting 47% on defended shots so far this season, which is 22nd in the league. At the same time, the Celts are 4th in the NBA in opponents 3PM a night at just 11.4
14. When Jayson Tatum is on the floor the Celtics have a 112 Ortg / 105 Drtg / +7.1 net rating. When he's off the floor it becomes 108 Ortg / 1098 Drtg / -1.2 net rating. That +7.1 net rating is good for 5th in the NBA. The -1.2 would be 19th in the league, right ahead of the Knicks.
15. The Celtics currently own the 29th best AST% in the league at 54.2%
16. At 37.5%, the Celts rank 26th in wide open 3P%. On the flip side, they are 3rd in the NBA in tightly covered 3PA at 36.6%
17. Jayson Tatum has 154 drives on the season and just 16 FTA on those drives. Marcus Smart for example has 148 drives and 35 FTA which is the most on the team. Jaylen has 184 drives and 24 FTA while Kemba has 4 FTA on 54 drives.
18. Despite having the 6th highest isolation frequency, the Celts currently rank in the 10th percentile in isolation offense
So all in all, this is what has made up the Celts 10-8 record. The defense is nowhere close to where it needs to be, the offense despite a decent rating has some flaws outside of the two Jays being ridiculous, Rob needs more minutes and when you add it all up, that's how I get to my C+/B- grade. Not terrible, but could most definitely be better, and it needs to be.