Boston Celtics Stat Monkey Brief: Celtics/Nets (11/15/12)
Everybody's so focused on the Nets/Knicks burgeoning rivalry (and deservedly so) that I think people could easily forget about another tailor-made foe for the Brooklyn Boys: the Celtics. Think about it. With so much animosity between Yankees and Red Sox, Jets and Patriots, and Red Bulls and Revolution (OK, maybe not that last one) fans already, I can see the little hate bubbles forming from all the way over in Chicago. Knicks/Spurs might be the best matchup of the night and Heat/Nuggets might have the best individual players, but for my money, Celtics/Nets should be the most entertaining.
So what should you be watching out for when these two Hate Birds face off? We at numberFire have a few key stats we're looking at.
Second-Chance Shots? Doesn't Ring a Bell
The Boston Celtics can't rebound on the offensive end. That's not an opinion or an inflammatory statement; so far this season, it's a certifiable fact. Boston's 15.9% offensive rebound rate (ORB%) is the single worst among all NBA teams thus far this season, and no player on the team has an ORB% above nine. For comparison's sake, Reggie Evans, Kris Humphries, and Andray Blatche all have 12.0 ORB% individually for the Nets. That doesn't bode well for the men in green.
It's certainly not going to come from KG: he hasn't been above 7.0 ORB% since his first season in Boston, and his current 3.1 ORB% is by far the worst of his career. But even the guys they were expecting to get it done have not been crashing the boards. Brandon Bass's team-leading 8.6 ORB% is better than last season, but still below his consistent rate above 9.0 between the 2006 and 2009 seasons. Jared Sullinger, meanwhile, is contributing with an 8.4 ORB% of his own, but that's still below the rates of fellow rookies Anthony Davis (12.0), Thomas Robinson (8.5%), and Andrew Nicholson (8.5%).
Terry Terry, Quite Contrary
But it's not all bad news for Celtics fans, especially when you look at the value Jason Terry has been able to add primarily coming off the bench. Through eight games, Terry's effective field goal percentage (eFG% - explained here) sits at .566, the highest of any Celtic playing significant minutes. And that's big for Terry as well - his eFG% has not topped .535 since the '06-07 season with Dallas. He's shooting better than ever.
According to the numbers, that shooting spree is paying huge dividends for Boston. Although he only has a -2.0 nERD rating and currently sits all the way at #120 of our current player power rankings for his defensive lapses, he projects to finish tonight's game with 15.9 points, the second-highest total on the Celtics behind KG's 16.9 points.
Turnovers: If there's one aspect of the game where the Celtics hold a clear advantage of Brooklyn, it's in the turnover department. The Nets have only forced turnovers on 12.9% of their defensive possessions this season, only the 23rd best total in the league. Boston, meanwhile, only turns the rock over on 13.2% of their possessions, seventh in the league, bolstered by Paul Pierce's career-low 9.2 TOV% thus far.
Pace: The Nets are the slowest team in the league so far this season, with their games averaging only 89.5 total possessions per 48 minutes of game play. The Celtics, meanwhile, are 13th in the NBA at 92.5 possessions per 48 minutes. The disparity isn't huge between these two teams, but there should still be a battle between Deron Williams attempting to slow the game down and Rajon Rondo (if healthy) trying to speed it up.