Following a decisive victory against Detroit, today Miami looks to extend its win streak to five against their favorite rivals while Boston looks to halt a six game losing streak. Today’s game against the Celtics doubles as Ray Allen’s first return to Boston as a member of the Miami Heat. For the stats behind the stories in the Battle of No Second Chance Points, read on.
Boston coach Doc Rivers is notorious for not playing rookies much, but has given Jared Sullinger a solid amount of playing time off the bench. Sullinger has made the most of these minutes, and scores highest in our nERD rankings of any Celtic with a mark of 3.4. However, Brandon Bass and his nERD score of -1.7 continue to get the start and major minutes ahead of Sullinger.
Not only does Sullinger possess the highest offensive rebounding percentage (with 12.8 percent) of anyone on this 29th best offensive rebounding squad, but he also trumps Bass in effective field goal percentage, defensive rebounding percentage, assist percentage, turnover percentage, and DRtg. The most used lineup featuring Sullinger and players who have started is Rondo-Lee-Pierce-Sullinger-Garnett. Per basketball-reference.com this lineup has outscored opponents by 25.6 points per 100 possessions while the same lineup featuring Bass is getting outscored by 7.9 points per 100 possessions. The Sullinger-and-starters sample size is still small, but there’s clearly plenty of evidence to warrant an expanded role for Sullinger at Bass’s expense.
As two of the worst offensive rebounding teams in basketball, the Celtics and the Heat take plenty of criticism for their poor performance on the boards. The Celtics are different from the Heat in that they at least clean up another teams misses consistently as an above average defensive rebounding team. Miami is terrible at rebounding on both ends of the floor. The Celtics have the advantage here and will need it. While Miami’s offense is still elite despite the lack of offensive rebounds thanks to their league-leading effective field goal percentage, Boston’s is among the worst in professional basketball despite being near-average in each of the other offensive four factors.
The Difference a Ray Makes
As one might expect, Ray Allen could be a big factor in the outcome of today’s game. His presence or absence has already made a clear difference on each of these teams this year. Boston has gone from the 7th best three-point shooting team last year to 28th this year, while Miami has improved from 10th to 3rd. Allen’s 44.3 percent three-point shooting percentage is a huge part of that.
Of course, there are two sides to a basketball game, and defense has never been Ray Allen’s specialty. Allen has a DRtg of 108, the worst of any Heat player with this many minutes. Lineups featuring Ray Allen allow 7.5 more points per 100 possessions than those without Allen. Knowing the history here, I have a feeling Boston’s backcourt will be highly motivated to take advantage of this weakness in Allen’s game.