Kevin C. Cox
Despite the 76ers and Celtics both missing star players, the teams are headed in very different directions. The Celtics are 11-4 since Rajon Rondo went down for the season and in firm grasp of a playoff spot.
The Sixers, despite going through a rough stretch of basketball, looked like they had a reasonable shot to maintain a playoff spot. The Celtics, hanging on to to a playoff spot by a thread with their floor general out of the year, looked doomed.
Since that time the Celtics have gone 11-4, in stark contrast to the 76ers 5-10 over the same stretch.
With both teams dealing with the loss of injured stars, one team is thriving. The other, not so much.
The Celtics overall are the same Celtcs we've come to know over the years. They're not all that good of an offensive team, ranking 24th in the league in offensive rating. They don't get any offensive rebounds (29th in the league), don't get to the free throw line all that much (19th), and don't attempt much from three (27th in attempts, 26th in three pt %).
Overall, their offensive shot distribution looks eerily similar to the 76ers. Not enough from 3 or at the line, way too many long range two's.
Two things that make the Celtics stand out from the Philadelphia 76ers:
- The shoot the long two a lot better. The 76ers connect on 33.9% of their shots between 16' and 23', the Celtis 43.8%. 10% difference is substantial. It's not a particularly good shot even at that rate (the Celtics are 2nd best in the league at that shot), but it's slightly more palatable.
- They defend the heck out of the ball. Even in their advanced age, the Celtics are 6th in the league in defensive rating. The 76ers have actually climbed back up to 12th in the league, a somewhat surprising figure considering how much the team has struggled of late and how low they were earlier on in the season. They're 2nd in the league (in terms of points per possession) defending isolation attempts, 2nd in the league defending pick and rolls, and 5th in the league defending post-ups.