Celtics vs Heat ECF Redux Discussion Thread

InstaFace

The Ultimate One
SoSH Member
Sep 27, 2016
21,342
Pittsburgh, PA
So in that last minute of garbage time, we got cutaways of Alex Rodriguez biting his lip, and grimacing Derek Jeter (As ever). That they both decided to show up tonight thinking they'd see a nice easy preordained sweep of the Celtics, called in some favors to get courtside seats... and to instead send them home to probably lie awake half the night thinking of that week 18 1/2 years ago, hearing the phrase "Boston avoids the sweep" echo through what passes for their brains as they toss and turn, is already some measure of recompense for us.

But I'd prefer to think that they're our good luck charms, that as long as they're a part of some Boston sporting event, the sporting gods will never favor our opponents. And I hope they show up 3 more times in this series.

edit: oh, and did you hear what the 3-point makes were, from the announcers as those last seconds ticked down? "19 to 8 advantage", they said. A fateful tally for us if there ever was one.
I couldn't help thinking similar. They brought their 2004 juju with them tonight.

Cowboy up.
Username checks out, mr. 2004 juju.

Anyway, the Athletic's writeup noted the same thing:

Screen Shot 2023-05-24 at 12.24.44 PM.png

I can't get enough of 2004 continuing to be the knife in the back of their careers. Yeah, they staggered forward, likely into the hall of fame, but that thing is still sticking out of there, and people keep noticing and bringing it up. Truly, the gift that keeps on giving.
 

BaseballJones

ivanvamp
SoSH Member
Oct 1, 2015
24,069
Username checks out, mr. 2004 juju.

Anyway, the Athletic's writeup noted the same thing:

View attachment 65191

I can't get enough of 2004 continuing to be the knife in the back of their careers. Yeah, they staggered forward, likely into the hall of fame, but that thing is still sticking out of there, and people keep noticing and bringing it up. Truly, the gift that keeps on giving.
I love that every time a team goes down 0-3, the 2004 Sox get referenced. Even as painful as it was for these Celtics to go down 0-3, it was at least tempered by the reminder of what the 2004 Red Sox did to the Yankees.
 

slamminsammya

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 31, 2006
9,009
San Francisco
Interestingly the odds are longer in the game five matchups (roughly ~75% for the leading team if I'm reading this correctly) if we assume those outcomes are predictive. For the record, I think they are only loosely so.
I'd guess game 4 is usually at home for the team down 3-0
 

BaseballJones

ivanvamp
SoSH Member
Oct 1, 2015
24,069
Man he is an enigma. If he can eliminate the valleys and shooting variance, he’s the best player in the league.
I’ve been saying this for a few years now…. But it’s weird evaluating Tatum. He’s obviously an all world talent and generally, even in “bad” games puts up big numbers. He’s a stat sheet stuffing machine.

Moreover, he has these superlative games where he just carries the Celtics to victory, sometimes in improbable fashion and it just awes you.

And yet there are lots of times where he just shrinks from the moment and you wonder if he really has “it”.
 

benhogan

Granite Truther
SoSH Member
Nov 2, 2007
19,847
Santa Monica
I've been banging on this all season.

White is better than a hobbled Smart, if CJM wants to continue to play suboptimal rotations then we'll see how it plays out
@lovegtm
@lexrageorge

A little more in-depth on White vs Smart.

I'm really not slamming Marcus (when healthy), I'm just extremely bullish on White. BUT the difference in defensive force became more apparent after Marcus was injured on Jan.21 (vs Toronto).

Somebody needs to introduce Derrick's dad to SoSH

https://theathletic.com/4270359/2023/03/03/celtics-derrick-white-analytics-dad/?source=dailyemail&campaign=601983


his father, Richard — a “stat nerd,” according to his son — will scan the league’s defensive tracking data to monitor the game’s contested shots and other hustle metrics.

It’s perfect, really, that White’s dad owns such an appreciation for the numbers that go deeper than points, rebounds and assists. Though Derrick has never been one of the NBA’s leading scorers, his impact has always been seen more clearly in advanced statistics. In this case, a math wiz raised a darling of modern basketball analytics.

“People always say, ‘Oh yeah, the eye test,’” says Richard. “Well, the eye test is biased. Because if you like a person, no matter what they do, you can’t talk them out of it. So, the numbers are the numbers. The results are the results.”

This season, the numbers rank White as one of the most impactful players on one of the NBA’s best teams. The Celtics have outscored opponents by 342 total points during his playing time, putting him at sixth in the league in overall plus/minus. Of course, that is dictated largely by team success, which is why the top-six solely includes players from the Nuggets and Celtics. Still, Boston has been about an average team this season with White on the bench. When he’s on the court, the Celtics have blasted opponents by 10.5 points per 100 possessions. Their offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency have both jumped significantly with White in the lineup.

Like simple on/off metrics, catch-all stats come with a lot of noise, but many of them value White highly. He ranks second on the Celtics and 40th in the league with 5.3 win shares. Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) also puts White second behind Tatum among Celtics players, while placing him 45th in the NBA. ESPN’s Real Plus/Minus slots White at 50th in the league, three spots ahead of Jamal Murray, five spots ahead of Jrue Holiday and seven spots ahead of Trae Young.

Even while White ranks 110th in scoring average, the overwhelming evidence suggests that his overall contributions put him in a much more exclusive company. He excels by making the right play over and over again, consistently tweaking the odds in his team’s favor as fans like his father can appreciate.

Richard, who works in the computer field, says he has always had an affinity for numbers. In baseball, he grew obsessed with batting averages and other stats. He says he became “pretty maniacal” about the game Strat-O-Matic, which allows users to simulate baseball games with the roll of dice while controlling the decisions of a manager. If sports analytics departments had been built up when he entered the workforce, Richard says he would have looked for that type of job.

“Gathering the data and then giving my assessment on what the data actually means,” he says. “Because if you have a representative sample size — and that’s where the eye test fails you, because the eye test is like, ‘Hey, I want this to happen’ even though the numbers aren’t there. With me, it’s like, whether it be lineups or teams or whatever, you have to look at different trends.”

Derrick’s ascension to the NBA has given his father reason to add another numbers-based hobby. After games, Richard can sometimes be found on Twitter complaining that the league has not released its tracking data in a timely fashion.

“So, he just found this new tracking (data), and, so, it just gives him more numbers and more things to look at,” says Derrick. “He doesn’t necessarily tell me about it. He used to, and then, he kind of stopped. But yeah, he’s a stat nerd, and he loves numbers, and he’s just having fun with it.”

Defensive metrics in basketball aren’t perfect. Many of them actually leave a lot to be desired. Still, Richard knows the numbers that are readily available shine light on some of the ways his son lifts the Celtics. Back in San Antonio, where he started his career, Derrick used to have a running competition with LaMarcus Aldridge and Jakob Poeltl over who would block more shots. Often, Derrick would win despite giving up at least seven inches to each player. He has long been one of the league’s best shot blockers his size.

Naturally, Derrick also contests far more shots than the average guard. Among all players shorter than 6-foot-7, White ranks fourth in contested shots per game behind Draymond Green, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Bogdan Bogdanovic. At that size, only Green has contested more 2-point attempts per game. He’s one of the best defensive big men ever. White is a 6-foot-4 guard.

“You could turn on any media outlet and they can tell you how many points Luka (Dončić), LeBron (James) or Jayson Tatum score,” says Richard. “But they rarely dig down into the defensive numbers. When he was in San Antonio, I found the player tracking. And then, when I looked, if you looked around at guards, he was one of the top players. You can’t really stop NBA players. They have unlimited dribbles, unlimited space and they can get wherever they want. But if you’re contesting the most shots, their percentage goes down a little bit. … You can look at (contested shots). They keep track of charges (taken) and those kinds of things. It was a way to kind of validate his defensive (impact) because what he’s doing in Boston is what he did in San Antonio, but nobody knew. Or nobody even cared.”

The Celtics cared. They sent Romeo Langford, Josh Richardson, a 2023 first-round draft pick and a 2028 pick swap to San Antonio for Derrick prior to the 2022 trade deadline. After arriving in Boston, Derrick factored heavily into the team’s stunning midseason turnaround. He fit in seamlessly, giving the Celtics a little bit of everything. He could play on the ball or off it. He could defend bigger players or quicker ones. His shot abandoned him at times but he focused on improving it over the offseason. In other ways, it became clear immediately how well Derrick complimented Boston’s other best players. That failed to surprise the Whites.

The numbers favor him the way they do because he does just about everything at a high level. He hustles around screens. He delivers the extra pass. On a Celtics team loaded with talented players, he has been able to take on a bigger role when necessary, but has also been willing to step back into a complementary fashion. During Smart’s recent 11-game absence, Derrick averaged 20.1 points, 5.8 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game on 49.1 percent shooting from the field, including 43.6 percent on 3-point attempts.

“The thing with his contests is that if you’re contesting, they’re moving the ball around or they don’t get to fully extend to the rim because you’re in the way,” says Richard. “And that allows off-ball (defenders) like Rob (Williams) to come in and get shot blocks. When you have a lot of people with the same mentality that they want to attempt to play defense, it makes it a lot easier.”

As the numbers show.
I'd add Derrick White to those 3. I want the ball in his hands initiating the offense late/tight.

He's good at getting into the lane with the ball, has a decent floater, 38% on 3s, 88% on FTs, & a 4 asst/1.1 turnover ratio.

Plus DW scrambles back on D when he misses a layup, while players like Tatum, Brown, and Smart go into theatrics with the refs and give up transitional advantages. It's been happening all season and is now an ingrained habit of those 3.
Just to go back to the Marcus Smart debate for a sec, this may kinda be the answer to "why don't we look like the world-beaters that our roster should be this year, when the Jays are a year more experienced, they went to the Finals last year, and added Brogdon?"

It's not dispositive, but Marcus's +/- per-100 numbers took a nosedive. +/- on-court is mostly an assessment of how awesome your team is, of course: Marcus's pm/100 the last 4 years goes: +7.1, +2.7, +9.7 (!), +6.1 this year. And that's with 100% of his games being a starter, so it's a measure of how good we are at outscoring the other teams' starters. Fine. But while that helps mitigate any confounding effect from "who on the other team are you facing", it doesn't help isolate Smart's specific effects. Here are his On-Off/100 numbers those last 4 years:

2019-20: +1.3
2020-21: +3.3
2021-22: +4.7
2022-23: -1.0

Yes, that's a negative this year on the on-off numbers. Now, there's context to add there:

- Our bench is a lot better, so when they beat up the other team's bench better than our starters beat their starters, Marcus looks worse, in fact all our starters do, but it's still a good thing because depth is good (even if it's less good in the playoffs)
- Those first 2 years, Marcus spent 73% and 55% of his minutes at the 2 rather than at PG, because we had Kemba. The last 2 years he has been PG for 92% and this year, 98%, of his minutes. That affects who he's covering, and he has always had a weakness against the exceptionally quick guards, your DeAaron Foxes of the league.
- Have to evaluate with respect to the alternatives. Malcolm Brogdon is at +5.2 on-court, but -2.4 on-off, worse than Smart; given that he usually leads the second unit, this argues against the idea that the Celtics ride a great bench. But also, Derrick White (3rd on the team in minutes) is +10.6 on-court, and +9.6 on-off, leading the team by a mile (Tatum: +5.9).

But what it does say is, (1) we have generally had better people to play at his spot, when available, particularly White for PG duty, and (2) our eye test that we're getting a gimpy, well-less-than-100% Smart this year, who is a long way away from DPOY Smart, has plenty of confirmation to it.

But when he's available to the roster, he plays. He starts, in fact: 59 games played, 59 games started. So what's so different? Do we see any clues to it showing up in the stats? Looking again at the last 4 years, for context vs the present (And bearing in mind that he's only been primary PG this year and last year), we see:

FGA/36': 12.8, 11.6, 11.3 -> 10.8. He has been more-selective about shooting it this year. USG% says the same thing.
eFG: .476, .489, .501, -> .512. He has been more efficient at shooting in general this year, and steadily improved.
FT%: .836, .790, .793, -> .757. Well, that's about a 5% drop-off this year, maybe that's "something bugging his hip" in his mechanics.
DRB/36': 3.4, 3.0, 3.6 -> 2.7. That's about a 20% dropoff in defensive rebounds from the prev 30-year average, even while ORB is largely constant. Going for less, or less effective at it, either way.
AST/game: 4.9, 5.7, 5.9 -> 6.4. He's assisting more than ever before, and anecdotally he's looked like a more-ambitious and more precise passer, too. What about his Points Generated from Assists?
PGA tot: 658, 678, 977 -> 899. Some of the increase comes from being PG more often, but he's being just as effective as a creator this year as last year. Turnovers?
TOV/36': 1.9, 2.2, 2.5 -> 2.6. A little more than last year, but much of the change is probably just from the role change post-Kemba. Nothing surprising. Same is true if you categorize the turnovers.
PF/36': 3.0, 2.9, 2.5 -> 3.1. He has been fouling more, after reducing it greatly last year. Similar % increase in Shooting fouls vs Off-Ball fouls.
OBPM: 0.0, -0.4, -1.2 -> -1.7. He has been less-valuable as an offensive player this year, relative to his previous acceptable level of moderate suck.
DBPM: 1.4, 0.2, 1.7 -> 0.8. He has been dramatically less valuable as a defender, with the net result leaving him not meaningfully above replacement-level as a PG this year (+0.5 VORP).
Fouls drawn shooting: 53, 64, 69 -> 46. He has been less-aggressive about driving the ball this year, and/or inviting contact. Off-ball fouls not so much, those are 30, 31, 46 -> 48, if anything he's doing more of that.

OK so those are some clues, but none of them are slam dunk answers.

What does DARKO say? Let's compare against teammates, and also FVV because why not.

View attachment 62870

So a slight drop-off, with a mildly-concerning trendline, but not exactly falling off the table. The bigger effect to notice is how much better Derrick White has gotten this year.

Anyway my conclusion is, to the extent that we have any suggestions as to why he's doing so much worse than last year - and to the extent we can control for variables like "Derrick White is awesome" - it seems to be mainly an issue of mobility, since all the notable departures (fouling the ball-handler, FT%, drawing shooting fouls) seem like they're functions of agility and playing pain-free.

I don't know whether this means we should put him on the 2nd unit and start White / Jaylen, or try more White-1/Smart-2 lineups, or change who he's guarding, or give him the next 2 weeks off. But we can't paper over the gap between Smart This Year and Smart Last Year, the end result has definitely been measurable and substantial on the court.
 

the moops

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 19, 2016
4,607
Saint Paul, MN
The Celtics are 37-2 when they shoot 40% or better from 3.

This team will live or die shooting the 3.
Anyone have an easy way to get records of other teams when they shoot 40% or better from three? I imagine that while 37-2 may be an outlier, the team that shoots 40% or better from three must have at least a 80%" winning percentage?

I quickly looked at Denver's first 20 games of the season. Looks like they were 9-1 when they shot 40% or better
 

Red Averages

owes you $50
SoSH Member
Apr 20, 2003
9,019
I'm going to be severely disappointed if Kevin Millar is not courtside in an Al Horford jersey for Game 5.
 

InstaFace

The Ultimate One
SoSH Member
Sep 27, 2016
21,342
Pittsburgh, PA
I'm really not slamming Marcus (when healthy), I'm just extremely bullish on White. BUT the difference in defensive force became more apparent after Marcus was injured on Jan.21 (vs Toronto).
It's interesting that you pick that as a dividing point. You're a more careful observer than I am, but I don't recall much of a change over the course of the season.

We do have pre/post all-star break splits (ASG was on Feb 19th). Problem is, Marcus was in 42 games before and 19 games after, bordering on too small a sample size to say anything. And including the playoffs in the post-ASB would just be more confounding than helpful. That said, some rate stats:

FT%: Pre .767, Post .711 (However, FTAs: Pre 76, Post 45, so a much higher rate of generating FTAs per-36)
FG%: Pre .425, Post .396 (3P%: Pre .333, Post .342, neutral)
TS%: Pre .546, Post .522 (Team: Pre .602, Post .596, neutral)
USG%: Pre 16.9%, Post 19.9%
+/-: Pre +6.6, Post +4.4 (Team: Pre +6.2, Post +7.5)
TRB: 3.5 -> 2.3
AST: 7.1 -> 4.3

So ignoring that we can't opponent-adjust all of this, there's some evidence he was less effective in the last third of the season. What about Smart's on/off? Regular-season, Marcus played 49% of minutes; in the playoffs that's 70% (572' on, 250' off). There's a lot to absorb on that on/off page, looking at team results for him on vs off, or the difference between Cs-vs-Opponent ("net") for his on/off, etc. But here's a few that stand out to me:

Marcus increases the Cs' AST% by +2.2% (net +1.1%), in the playoffs that's +1.0% (net +7.5%!), as playoff opponent AST% when he's on-court is a very low 50.6%. The image in my head of Marcus over-helping and the other team finding his man who hits a 3 is just anecdote, it seems.

The Cs' TOV% goes down -1.8% when Marcus is on (good!), and the opponents' goes up +1.5% when he's on, so he nets us 3.3% TOV% on both ends. In the playoffs that's down to a net +1.9% of TOV% when he plays, mostly because we've been better than we were in the regular season about not turning it over when Marcus is off the court.

With steals, Marcus makes us +1.0% STL% on court and -1.5% when he's off, for a net +2.5%. In the playoffs though, against the very-handsy 76ers and Heat, we are -1.8% net when he's on and -2.3% net when he's off, so he's still +0.5% on/off, but overall we're much worse as a team.

I guess my conclusion is, there may have been a decline in the latter third of the season, but whatever effect was occurring, it doesn't appear to have carried over to the playoffs - or if it has, it's not evident in the data.
 

Spelunker

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 17, 2005
11,752
I love that every time a team goes down 0-3, the 2004 Sox get referenced. Even as painful as it was for these Celtics to go down 0-3, it was at least tempered by the reminder of what the 2004 Red Sox did to the Yankees.
Unfortunately, often the Bruins as well.
 

Cellar-Door

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 1, 2006
34,023
White 27 mins, smh

Joe can't wait to bench him, even though Smart is moving like utter crap
I think this a key example of something that has come up across the league over and over.... who gets benched is not always/usually the coach's decision alone. We've talked about it before, but coaches have dictates from above them that they have to follow. We'll never know if there is one on Smart, but I would guess there is.
 

benhogan

Granite Truther
SoSH Member
Nov 2, 2007
19,847
Santa Monica
It's interesting that you pick that as a dividing point. You're a more careful observer than I am, but I don't recall much of a change over the course of the season.

We do have pre/post all-star break splits (ASG was on Feb 19th). Problem is, Marcus was in 42 games before and 19 games after, bordering on too small a sample size to say anything. And including the playoffs in the post-ASB would just be more confounding than helpful. That said, some rate stats:

FT%: Pre .767, Post .711 (However, FTAs: Pre 76, Post 45, so a much higher rate of generating FTAs per-36)
FG%: Pre .425, Post .396 (3P%: Pre .333, Post .342, neutral)
TS%: Pre .546, Post .522 (Team: Pre .602, Post .596, neutral)
USG%: Pre 16.9%, Post 19.9%
+/-: Pre +6.6, Post +4.4 (Team: Pre +6.2, Post +7.5)
TRB: 3.5 -> 2.3
AST: 7.1 -> 4.3

So ignoring that we can't opponent-adjust all of this, there's some evidence he was less effective in the last third of the season. What about Smart's on/off? Regular-season, Marcus played 49% of minutes; in the playoffs that's 70% (572' on, 250' off). There's a lot to absorb on that on/off page, looking at team results for him on vs off, or the difference between Cs-vs-Opponent ("net") for his on/off, etc. But here's a few that stand out to me:

Marcus increases the Cs' AST% by +2.2% (net +1.1%), in the playoffs that's +1.0% (net +7.5%!), as playoff opponent AST% when he's on-court is a very low 50.6%. The image in my head of Marcus over-helping and the other team finding his man who hits a 3 is just anecdote, it seems.

The Cs' TOV% goes down -1.8% when Marcus is on (good!), and the opponents' goes up +1.5% when he's on, so he nets us 3.3% TOV% on both ends. In the playoffs that's down to a net +1.9% of TOV% when he plays, mostly because we've been better than we were in the regular season about not turning it over when Marcus is off the court.

With steals, Marcus makes us +1.0% STL% on court and -1.5% when he's off, for a net +2.5%. In the playoffs though, against the very-handsy 76ers and Heat, we are -1.8% net when he's on and -2.3% net when he's off, so he's still +0.5% on/off, but overall we're much worse as a team.

I guess my conclusion is, there may have been a decline in the latter third of the season, but whatever effect was occurring, it doesn't appear to have carried over to the playoffs - or if it has, it's not evident in the data.
Good stuff, thanks for that. Again, I don't want to slam Smart BUT to the eye test, Marcus has been a hair slower (due to injury). Even last night he did a few grimaces when chasing Vincent/Strus over moving screens a few times on the perimeter. Smart is a warrior, and will play through an injury, that should be applauded BUT a switch in "minutes played" between him and White would help.

I just took a look at playoff performance (17 games - SSS alert), thinking maybe White dipped.
Derrick is shooting 45% from 3 (39/86), which is a generic barometer for this team's success.

White: 129 ORtg & 116 DRtg per 100 // 2.1 BPM
Smart: 118 ORtg & 115 DRtg per 100 // .6 BPM

Same Win Shares with White playing fewer minutes

CJM is riding Smart harder, hopefully, it works out and I'm wrong.
 

benhogan

Granite Truther
SoSH Member
Nov 2, 2007
19,847
Santa Monica
I think this a key example of something that has come up across the league over and over.... who gets benched is not always/usually the coach's decision alone. We've talked about it before, but coaches have dictates from above them that they have to follow. We'll never know if there is one on Smart, but I would guess there is.
Thats fair. Maybe the lack of coaching staff (C's less 3 Senior Coaches from last season) is forcing them to play a more vocal team leader (Smart) to compensate.

White comes off quiet, while we all know Smart is an Alpha.
 

Jeff Van GULLY

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 13, 2005
4,022
Going back to the 3-0 stats I posted about earlier today, I did a bit of a deeper dive on that group of 150 series.

I chose to exclude first round matchups, where a lot of lopsided 1 vs. 8-seed and 2 vs. 7 matchups occurred. I also excluded the NBA Finals series as comparing them by seed was more difficult and those series are always a bit different than the conference matchups as well (teams don't see each other in regular season as much, different rest periods, even for awhile the 2-3-2 home/away distribution). I also started only with year 2000 series and newer. Arbitrary cutoff? Maybe, but chosen to reflect closer to what the NBA looks like today.

I lastly wanted to only look at series upsets, as to isolate the home/away factor to what the Celtics are facing to pull off what so far in NBA history, has been impossible (win away game 4, win home game 5, win away game 6, win home game 7).

Since 2000 playoffs, there have been 90 series that went 3-0. Of that, only 34 were not First Round or NBA Finals series.

Of those 34, there have been 9 series where the underdog (as per seed) got to 3-0 and won the series.

So of the 90 series since 2000 that went 3-0, only 10% were underdogs in the conference semi-finals and conference finals. Still with me?

Here are the nine series:
Year Conf. Finals/Semi-Finals Winner Winner Seed Loser Loser Seed Total Games in Series Seed Difference
2000​
Semifinals Trail Blazers
3​
Jazz
2​
5​
1​
2001​
Finals Lakers
2​
Spurs
1​
4​
1​
2003​
Finals Nets
2​
Pistons
1​
4​
1​
2005​
Finals Spurs
2​
Suns
1​
5​
1​
2010​
Finals Celtics
4​
Magic
2​
6​
2​
2011​
Semifinals Mavericks
3​
Lakers
2​
4​
1​
2015​
Finals Cavaliers
2​
Hawks
1​
4​
1​
2018​
Semifinals Cavaliers
4​
Raptors
1​
4​
3​
2020​
Semifinals Heat
5​
Bucks
1​
5​
4​
Averages -- --
3.0​
--
1.3​
4.6​
1.7​



As you can see, the lowest seed that upset the favorite were the Jimmy Butler-led Miami Heat in 2020, as a 5-seed against Milwaukee. How long did that series last? 5 games. They beat the Bucks 104-93 in game 5. They were up six points at halftime and never looked back. But WAIT, that was the COVID Playoffs, so even this example isn't indicative of the travel or home/away situation I was seeking.

So let's throw them out for a minute. Based on the criteria I'm looking for, there were only eight instances so far in 22+ years and the lowest seed to win? A four seed.

What's the longest a series has gone under these parameters? Only six games and that only happened once. By far, the most common occurrence was for there to be a sweep (4-0).

What the Heat are attempting to do is unprecedented (win as an 8-seed). Nearly as much as the Celtics to come back. We simply do not see 8-seeds get this deep and upset teams in the conference semifinals or finals

If the Celtics can beat the Heat tomorrow night in Game 5, we will be in a situation that is EXTREMELY RARE in the latest era of the NBA. Only the 2010 Boston Celtics in our data set lost games 4 & 5 and went back won to close out the series in game 6. 1 team/series out of 90 since 2000.

Win game 5 and as our friend KG said, "Anything is possible."
 
Last edited:

Red Averages

owes you $50
SoSH Member
Apr 20, 2003
9,019
How much is the NBA chomping at the bit for a Game 6 in Miami on Saturday night of Memorial day weekend full of enticing narratives?
 

tims4wins

PN23's replacement
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
36,721
Hingham, MA
Going back to the 3-0 stats I posted about earlier today, I did a bit of a deeper dive on that group of 150 series.

I chose to exclude first round matchups, where a lot of lopsided 1 vs. 8-seed and 2 vs. 7 matchups occurred. I also excluded the NBA Finals series as comparing them by seed was more difficult and those series are always a bit different than the conference matchups as well (teams don't see each other in regular season as much, different rest periods, even for awhile the 2-3-2 home/away distribution). I also started only with year 2000 series and newer. Arbitrary cutoff? Maybe, but chosen to reflect closer to what the NBA looks like today.

I lastly wanted to only look at series upsets, as to isolate the home/away factor to what the Celtics are facing to pull off what so far in NBA history, has been impossible (win away game 4, win home game 5, win away game 6, win home game 7).

Since 2000 playoffs, there have been 90 series that went 3-0. Of that, only 34 were not First Round or NBA Finals series.

Of those 34, there have been 9 series where the underdog (as per seed) got to 3-0 and won the series.

So of the 90 series since 2000 that went 3-0, only 10% were underdogs in the conference semi-finals and conference finals. Still with me?

Here are the nine series:

Year Conf. Finals/Semi-Finals Winner Winner Seed Loser Loser Seed Total Games in Series Seed Difference
2000​
Semifinals Trail Blazers
3​
Jazz
2​
5​
1​
2001​
Finals Lakers
2​
Spurs
1​
4​
1​
2003​
Finals Nets
2​
Pistons
2​
4​
0​
2005​
Finals Spurs
2​
Suns
1​
5​
1​
2010​
Finals Celtics
4​
Magic
2​
6​
2​
2011​
Semifinals Mavericks
3​
Lakers
2​
4​
1​
2015​
Finals Cavaliers
2​
Hawks
1​
4​
1​
2018​
Semifinals Cavaliers
4​
Raptors
1​
4​
3​
2020​
Semifinals Heat
5​
Bucks
1​
5​
4​
Average -- --
3.0​
--
1.4​
4.6​
1.6​



As you can see, the lowest seed that upset the favorite were the Jimmy Butler-led Miami Heat in 2020, as a 5-seed against Milwaukee. How long did that series last? 5 games. They beat the Bucks 104-93 in game 5. They were up six points at halftime and never looked back. But WAIT, that was the COVID Playoffs, so even this example isn't indicative of the travel or home/away situation I was seeking.

So let's throw them out for a minute. Based on the criteria I'm looking for, there were only eight instances so far in 22+ years and the lowest seed to win? A four seed.

What's the longest a series has gone under these parameters? Only six games and that only happened once. By far, the most common occurrence was for there to be a sweep (4-0).

What the Heat are attempting to do is unprecedented (win as an 8-seed). Nearly as much as the Celtics to come back. We simply do not see 8-seeds get this deep and upset teams in the conference semifinals or finals

If the Celtics can beat the Heat tomorrow night in Game 5, we will be in a situation that is EXTREMELY RARE in the latest era of the NBA. Only the 2010 Boston Celtics in our data set lost games 4 & 5 and went back on the road and won to close out the series. 1 team/series out of 90 since 2000.

Win game 5 and as our friend KG said, "Anything is possible."
I would argue - and I would have said this 20 hours ago as well - that these Celtics have the best chance of coming back from 3-0 of any team in history facing that sort of deficit. Maybe regardless of which sport.
 

Dave Stapleton

Just A Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Oct 11, 2001
9,089
Newport, RI
I promise this isn't a humblebrag. Being at the game last night in person, I noticed a few things:

1. As I noted in the gamethread, the team clearly avoided showing up the refs. They did argue calls but this was done in a professional and conversational manner (sometimes passionately) during breaks in the action, usually timeouts and commericals. Horford and Williams were the most frequent here.
2. As to number one, the team was getting back on D and not throwing their hands up when not getting a call.
3. While cool environment, noise basically only came when the fans were prompted. Very hot and cold fandom with no sustained interest.
4. Phil Ruzuto would be proud. Fans were leaving with 7:30 left.
5. Cs were absolutely more physical. Fighting through screens and a few hard (but not flagrant) fouls.
 

jablo1312

New Member
Sep 20, 2005
937
Have been busy since end of game last night so no time to dig into this yet but a few things:

-Are 8 blocks + 8 steals a season high in STOCKS for this team? A few of those steals were Bam bobbling the ball but Jaylen, Grant, Al, D-White all did a great job getting their hands on balls in passing lanes

-Similarly, 2 turnovers in the 2nd half is very encouraging. I definitely don't expect that moving forward but every possession they can save is a tiny little edge.

-haven't really looked at the film but the limited turnovers + getting back on defense for most of the night seemed to limit the damage Miami did in transition.

-Anecdotally it felt like the effort to fight over screens was better on the DHO's-or high PnR's w/ Vincent, Strus, and Robinson. There's no reason those guys should be waltzing into open 3's and Smart, White and Jaylen did a solid job to muck it up some (the Jaylen foul on the Vincent 3 hurt).

edit: they got lucky on more missed good look pull-ups then I remembered. Jaylen and Brogdon still died on a bunch of screens w/ more or less no resistance.

other stuff: There is a non-zero chance Brogdon was drunk during this game. Missing shots is whatever, some of them were awful looks and he has temporarily forgotten how to dribble. Call me crazy but I think he can turn it around, he was nail against Philly for stretches.

White got beat by Vincent in the corner around the 9 minute mark for FT's. Next 90 seconds: comes down, get the And-1 put back, stays with Vincent to make him rush a stepback, creates a turnover digging down on an entry pass, runs a 2 on 1 fast break and instead of trying to got at martin at the rim, slows the ball down and finds the trailing Grant for the wide-open 3. Winning player. Not gonna blame him for not being able to guard Jimmy.

Jaylen cannot guard the Vincent-Bam PnR game. At all. Killing me.
 
Last edited:

brendan f

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 13, 2019
248
I think this a key example of something that has come up across the league over and over.... who gets benched is not always/usually the coach's decision alone. We've talked about it before, but coaches have dictates from above them that they have to follow. We'll never know if there is one on Smart, but I would guess there is.
Given Stevens has said both for Ime and Joe that he will never go to them to offer advice but will always be there if they seek advice, I sincerely doubt this––unless you have someone else from above in mind?
 

Cellar-Door

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 1, 2006
34,023
Given Stevens has said both for Ime and Joe that he will never go to them to offer advice but will always be there if they seek advice, I sincerely doubt this––unless you have someone else from above in mind?
I do, though also not sure Brad meant that he wouldn't do the regular GM stuff, more he wouldn't reach out on strategy, etc. Ownership and GMs have a lot of influence, whether they outright tell the coach or it is just implied. Now if Joe really just benched Marcus... probably wouldn't get him fired, Tatum.... probably would. There are also certain promises made to guys and their agents when they sign deals, when they get traded for etc.
 

Cellar-Door

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 1, 2006
34,023
Lowe and Goldsberry talked about the series today...
Both basically agreed that while it's still a long-shot, the data says this is the most likely 3-0 comeback ever, by far the biggest gap in season performance between the team down 3-0 and the team up.
Also, both were really baffled trying to parse the data in terms of what lineups Mazz should use. Going small has been positive, but White is getting targeted and cooked by Jimmy, noted the closing lineup last night (no White, Smart and Grant) might be the best defensive lineup because Jimmy can't spam the "find small guy and bully him" move.
Also both a bit confused by why most of the timelord lineups are not doing that well.

And of course... basic agreement than for BOS to win 3 they need to get a lot more out of Brown, who (probably is injured) is shooting 19% on jumpers.
 

Van Everyman

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 30, 2009
26,842
Newton
Also both a bit confused by why most of the timelord lineups are not doing that well.
Timelord seems to maybe not be having his best “connected” defensive series. Sagging on screens for shooters (Horford has done this at times as well), biting on pump fakes. I wonder whether his lack of focus has made it hard for his teammates to get in sync and out in transition
 

Jakarta

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 18, 2020
241
If Vincent is out or is limited, the Heat rotation gets very thin. Their other top 4 guys are already playing over 30 minutes a game and that includes limited minutes in the game 3 blowout. Needing to replace Vincent’s 35-40 minutes becomes a real challenge. Lowry probably takes 10 of those but that puts him at 35 minutes which I think he will struggle with. They can probably try to squeeze another 10 minutes out of Strus, but that still leaves 15-20 mins to figure out, including about 15 without a real PG on the floor. I imagine Jimmy brings the ball up in these minutes and I hope the Celtics try to pressure him full court when he does.

I think back to last year’s finals when the Warriors expanded their rotation, played faster, and just wore down the Celtics. I hope the Celtics really push the pace, play 8 or 9 guys and see what happens.

Will also be interesting to see what Spo does in this case. If the Cs can take a lead in the second half, he may take his foot off the gas a bit earlier and try to save his guys for Game 6.
 

ehaz

Member
SoSH Member
Sep 30, 2007
4,918
If Vincent is out or is limited, the Heat rotation gets very thin. Their other top 4 guys are already playing over 30 minutes a game and that includes limited minutes in the game 3 blowout. Needing to replace Vincent’s 35-40 minutes becomes a real challenge. Lowry probably takes 10 of those but that puts him at 35 minutes which I think he will struggle with. They can probably try to squeeze another 10 minutes out of Strus, but that still leaves 15-20 mins to figure out, including about 15 without a real PG on the floor. I imagine Jimmy brings the ball up in these minutes and I hope the Celtics try to pressure him full court when he does.

I think back to last year’s finals when the Warriors expanded their rotation, played faster, and just wore down the Celtics. I hope the Celtics really push the pace, play 8 or 9 guys and see what happens.

Will also be interesting to see what Spo does in this case. If the Cs can take a lead in the second half, he may take his foot off the gas a bit earlier and try to save his guys for Game 6.
This is a long and unnecessary way of saying that Haywood Highsmith is going 25 and 10.
 

LesterFan

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 12, 2010
15,045
Boston, MA
This explains a lot.
BOSTON — Malcolm Brogdon has been playing through a partial tear in the tendon coming out of his right elbow that leads into his forearm, team sources told The Athletic.

Brogdon suffered the injury in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, according to the sources, who were granted anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record. The Celtics guard was initially dealing with golfer’s elbow soreness during the Philadelphia series, but an MRI after Game 1 against the Heat determined he exacerbated the injury by tearing the tendon in boxing out Miami Heat big Kevin Love midway through the first quarter.

The Sixth Man of the Year, 30, has struggled with pain and swelling in his arm and wrist, which has limited his ability to shoot comfortably in this series. After shooting 44.4 percent from 3 in the regular season, Brogdon is 3-for-14 from deep in the first four games of the conference finals and has resorted to driving the ball more and curtailing his pregame warmup routine to mitigate the significant soreness in his wrist and arm caused by shooting.

Brogdon intends to continue playing through the injury as the Celtics attempt to come back from an 0-3 deficit after winning Game 4 116-99 on Tuesday. He is expected to evaluate whether he will need surgery after the season, according to team sources.
https://theathletic.com/4550943/2023/05/24/celtics-malcolm-brogdon-injury-playoffs/
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Dec 24, 2002
47,825
If he can’t shoot properly because of the injury, he shouldn’t be playing. Start Hauser and use White as the backup PG, or use Pritchard a bit and stretch out Grant‘s minutes to at least the 30 he played in Game 4, and play White 30+ minutes.
The numbers support this - e.g. Brogdon is the worst of all the main rotation guys in terms of DFG% during the postseason. It kind of matches the eye test of a guy who is struggling.


65213
 

eno2259

New Member
Jul 15, 2005
16
Keep coming back to the Butler missed 3 last year; we have one Finals appearance with this core because of a missed 3 that saved us from blowing a 13 point lead with 2 mins left and the worst loss in franchise history. These problems have always been there. The mask was just ripped off this year instead of last year.
Fact. This core has a problem. And instead of getting better or learning. They repeat their same mistakes. I am firmly in the pick one, blow it up phase because as much as I want this core to win - they will not.
 

lovegtm

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 30, 2013
11,772
Lowe and Goldsberry talked about the series today...
Both basically agreed that while it's still a long-shot, the data says this is the most likely 3-0 comeback ever, by far the biggest gap in season performance between the team down 3-0 and the team up.
Also, both were really baffled trying to parse the data in terms of what lineups Mazz should use. Going small has been positive, but White is getting targeted and cooked by Jimmy, noted the closing lineup last night (no White, Smart and Grant) might be the best defensive lineup because Jimmy can't spam the "find small guy and bully him" move.
Also both a bit confused by why most of the timelord lineups are not doing that well.

And of course... basic agreement than for BOS to win 3 they need to get a lot more out of Brown, who (probably is injured) is shooting 19% on jumpers.
Mazz has had some tricky problem-solving to do with Brogdon and Jaylen hurt, and only being able to stop Butler with very very specific lineups.

I imagine he thinks they found something with the Smart/Grant/Brown/Tatum/center lineup, so maybe they just try to play that most of the time when Jimmy is on the floor? Then you can fill in White around that, which makes you 7 deep, and play Hauser or PP in non-Butler minutes instead of Brogdon?

I don't see how you can keep running Brogdon out there at this point.
 

Euclis20

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 3, 2004
7,835
Imaginationland
Brown and Brogdon being hurt (instead of just in a slump) is both informative and incredibly depressing. It also makes perfect sense given how hot they were earlier in the playoffs (Brogdon shot .523 from 3 against Philly, and Jaylen shot .471 from 3 over the first two rounds) and how cold they appear to be now.
 

kazuneko

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 10, 2006
2,788
Honolulu HI
Mazz has had some tricky problem-solving to do with Brogdon and Jaylen hurt, and only being able to stop Butler with very very specific lineups.

I imagine he thinks they found something with the Smart/Grant/Brown/Tatum/center lineup, so maybe they just try to play that most of the time when Jimmy is on the floor? Then you can fill in White around that, which makes you 7 deep, and play Hauser or PP in non-Butler minutes instead of Brogdon?

I don't see how you can keep running Brogdon out there at this point.
Of course this does make you wonder why Brogdon has been getting so many minutes, and just makes it even more mystifying that he hasn’t given Hauser any play.
 

lovegtm

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 30, 2013
11,772
Of course this does make you wonder why Brogdon has been getting so many minutes, and just makes it even more mystifying that he hasn’t given Hauser any play.
I kind of agree, but there are so many examples of guys figuring out ways to play through injury that I can understand wanting to push it.

Now that Grant is playing well enough to have a true 7 man rotation, I expect Joe to eliminate most or all of Brogdon's minutes.
 

Jakarta

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 18, 2020
241
Of course this does make you wonder why Brogdon has been getting so many minutes, and just makes it even more mystifying that he hasn’t given Hauser any play.
I thought at first this would explain the seemingly random PP minutes in game 1. But Brogdon played 37 minutes in game 1, so it wasn’t that.
 

jon abbey

Shanghai Warrior
Moderator
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
70,463
"Bam Hurts Everybody" to the tune of Truth Hits Everybody by the Police is now going through my head, he took out half the Knicks team last round. Was he involved in the Brogdon injury too?