Sunday, May 21 – Celtics at Cavaliers
Pregame: Game 3 – Stevens Judges C’s Play Based off of Analytics
CLEVELAND – There has been a lot of talk through media channels about the Celtics shooting 29 percent on uncontested shots during Game 2 against Cleveland, while the Cavs shot 60 percent on contested shots. Trust that such talk has also taken place within Boston’s coaching room.
Brad Stevens explained to the media Sunday night how he and the Celtics front office evaluate the team’s offense and defense each and every night. It may come as a surprise that the numbers the C’s or an opposing team put up – such as the 130 points Cleveland scored during Game 2 – aren’t necessarily what the team uses to judge its performance.
“We don’t measure our offense or defense on whether or not the shot goes in,” Stevens explained. “We measure it based on what – not to get too analytics-based – but what the expected result would be, based on a season-full of percentages.
“So you might have a game where you shoot it terribly, but you got shots where your normal expectation would mean you would make a ton of shots. So that’s how we gauge how efficient we look on offense from an execution standpoint, and defense as well.”
Game 2 was a prime example of this type of evaluation coming into play.
Boston shot only 37.2 percent from the field during the game, but many of the shots the team missed were quality looks at the basket. Based upon a season full of averages, the numbers say that it was a night during which shots that normally fall through the net just didn’t do so.
To the contrary, Cleveland shot an incredibly high percentage on shots that were very well defended by Boston. That isn’t normal, but it happened.
Add those two occurrences together, and you wind up with a 130-86 blowout win by Cleveland.
Tonight, the Celtics hope that the law of averages comes into play for them. They want to create quality looks at the basket again, but this time, have them fall through the basket as regularly as they have all season long. They also would love the Cavs to miss more regularly than they have on shots that are heavily contested.
– Marc D’Amico