The Atlantic Division at the Half: Boston Celtics

It's halftime so I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at how the Nets' rivals have been faring this season. First up, the Boston Celtics.

How have the five time (five time five time five time five time) defending Atlantic Division Champions been doing this year? Let's get into the numbers


Boston Celtics

League Average


28-24 -


91.3 91.8

Offensive Efficiency

102.1 105.5

Defensive Efficiency

102.1 105.5

Offensive Rebounding percentage

20.9 26.8

Turnover Rate

13.9 13.7

Free Throw Rate

20.6 20.4

Effective Field Goal percentage

49.2 49.3

Opponent Effective Field Goal percentage

48.2 49.3

"We turned the ball over too much last year. I thought more than anything that hurt our offense. When you look at our efficiency, when we actually got a shot up at the basket we were pretty good. I would like to increase our pace of play a little bit. I just think we're a different team."

- Celtics coach Doc Rivers before the season

Well, they have been playing at a faster pace this year. Granted, 91 possessions isn't that much of a difference from 90, but it still counts.

Moving on from the pace, they haven't been able to limit their amount of turnovers to the degree that Rivers probably wanted. Boston's turnover rate is essentially unchanged from last year, and while ball control is of the utmost importance for any team, it becomes even more important when you're a slow paced offense that doesn't feature a lot of great scorers.

Even with the loss of Ray Allen, Boston had a pretty decent offseason. They acquired Jason Terry & LeAndro Barbosa via free agency, traded for ex-Net Courtney Lee and drafted The Ohio State University big man Jared Sullinger. Even with those solid acquisitions, Boston's offense is essentially the same productivity wise as last year.

In terms of usage rate, the Boston offense still runs through Paul Pierce. As one would expect, a 35 year old player who has logged close to 45,000 career minutes (regular and postseason) would experience a bit of a dropoff. And Pierce has been no exception to that rule. He's having his worst year shooting the ball since the 2003-2004 season, but his True Shooting percentage of 53.6 is right around league average. Curiously, Pierce is shooting only 50.7 percent inside of eight feet. I wonder why that is? And a quick search reveals the answer, as Pierce has been playing with a pinched nerve in his neck.

The drop-off for Boston this year has been on the defensive side of the ball, but with a caveat. The caveat is the presence of All-Star and future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett. Boston's defense with Garnett is robust, as they're allowing only 95.6 points per 100 possessions and an eFG % of 47.5. When Garnett is out, they're allowing 104.8 per 100 possessions and an eFG of 49.9%. Boston's defense has been making gains as the season has gone on, as they've climbed back into the top 10 in defense after being in the bottom half earlier in the year. The return of Avery Bradley will help the Celtics perimeter defense as the second half progresses.

Best win: January 27 vs. Miami

After pushing their losing streak to six with a loss to the Hawks the game before, and not having Rondo due to injury (we later found out how bad the injury was), this seemed like an automatic loss going up against the reigning Champions. But some big plays by Pierce late in the second overtime helped Boston overcome the Heat.

Worst loss: December 30 at Sacramento

What happened here? Aykis16 of Sactown Royalty fills us in:

The Kings got to the basket at ease all night and thanks to their newfound unselfishness, were able to get easy shots through passing where in the past they might have forced something that was not there. Nowhere was this more evident than in the play of DeMarcus Cousins, who racked up a career-high 10 assists for his first triple-double. Cousins would get into the paint and draw attention and instead of jacking up a poor percentage shot, he'd pass out of it to the open man. Sacramento got a ton of quality looks this way, and it's a strategy I want them to continue to use. It benefits both the team, and Cousins himself.

What to expect in the second half

Since last year, a lot of people (raises hand) have held the belief that Boston should overhaul their roster and begin the rebuilding process in earnest. Rondo's out for the season, Jared Sullinger's out for the season, and Leandro Barbosa is done too. And if you believe all the rumors, Boston's gonna do something drastic.

Even if the Celtics stand pat and try for one more run with Pierce & Garnett, the schedule to begin the second half promises to be extremely challenging. Here are their first 10 games after the break:

at Denver

at the Lakers

at Phoenix

at Portland

at Utah

Golden State

at Philadelphia

at Indiana


at Oklahoma City

Of those 10 games, nine are against playoff contenders. Boston is only five games behind the first place Knicks, and it's not an impossible thought to think that the Celtics can leapfrog the Knicks/Nets and steal the Division again. They have two more games with the Knicks (on March 26 and 31) and one more with the Nets (on April 10), so they're got a great opportunity to pull off the upset, depending on the type of moves they make at the deadline.

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