There's just something about Boston...

Essentials

  • Teams: Boston Celtics (20-19) at Detroit Pistons (14-25)
  • Date: January 20, 2013
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: FSD

What to look for

The Boston Celtics recently had a six-game losing streak come to an end when they were defeated at home by the New Orleans Hornets. Doc Rivers and company followed that setback with another home defeat, this time to the rival Chicago Bulls on Friday night, in a game full of playoff intensity.

The Celtics still have a solid big three in Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett that make things easier on the offense and the defense as the team’s resident stars and leaders, but the team’s record suggests that they haven’t done enough.

This explains why Boston acquired Courtney Lee and Jason Terry to help shore up the perimeter defense, but more importantly to help the team score.

Their shooting was expected to be a welcomed addition as both players would play off the talents of the big three. And to their credit, both have done their jobs in terms of spacing the court particularly from the corners, where Terry converts 41 percent of his corner 3-point shots and Lee hits 37 percent from the same spot per StatsCube.

And yet, Boston is in the bottom third in offensive efficiency this season.

The reason is simple: they are a jump shooting team.

Shooters surround Pierce, Garnett and Rondo, but they are as well relegated to the perimeter. Doc Rivers runs excellent sets to free up his players, but ultimately, he is at the mercy of his team’s ability to convert jumpers given that his team just cannot make it to the rim for easy baskets. Indeed, Hoopdata tells us that only eight teams in the league manufacture fewer shots directly at the rim than the Celtics.

Nonetheless, Garnett and company are hovering over a .500 record because they own the eighth best defensive efficiency in the league.

KG is a terrific individual and team defender that covers up a lot of what opposing teams do be it in the pick-and-roll or their regular sets. His intellect allows him to understand where to direct ball handlers when jumping out at them while his quickness permits him to quickly get back to rotating to his man all the while protecting the paint. His age obviously makes it difficult for him to consistently be excellent defensively, thus Rivers finds ways to manage his minutes without keeping him on the bench too long.

The Celtics also recently received a boost when Avery Bradley returned to the lineup eight games ago. He may just be the peskiest defender in the league, eerily reminiscent of Lindsey Hunter because of his ability to pick up defenders full court and stay with them. He is simply unshakable.

When Bradley is on the court, he typically covers opposing point guards to make life difficult for them while Rondo — if on the court with him — will defend the shooting guard depending on the matchups. Despite recently returning from injury, Avery Bradley has been terrific at hounding players with full-court pressure and has to be run through multiple screens in the half-court to allow his man to get free, and even then there’s no guarantee.

NBA.com’s advanced stats tool tells us that Bradley and Garnett have played 138 minutes together so far this season, and in their time on the court, the Celtics surrender 92.4 points per 48 minutes on 44.1 percent field goal shooting. It goes without saying that the Pistons will have some issues as it pertains to scoring against Boston tonight when both players are on the floor, and the game may even look ugly at times, but ultimately, it should be a close contest that gets decided late.

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Statistical support provided by NBA.com.

Tags: Boston Celtics THN-BOS