From Comcast SportsNetIndiana coach Tom Crean used an analogy to the state's second favorite sport after the Hoosiers remained No. 1 in The Associated Press' Top 25 for a second straight week.It had been over a month since a team managed to stay on top, and Indiana broke that trend despite losing a game last week, leading Crean to bring up auto racing."I had a good friend tell me that in-season rankings are the barometer of representing what lane you're in and the direction and how far you are moving towards your goals," Crean said Monday. "We want to stay in the left lane and keep working on our team and pace because we know there are quite a few others in the left lane as well."The Hoosiers (21-3) lost to Illinois on a last-second basket Thursday but rebounded with a win at then-No.10 Ohio State on Sunday. In a week when four of the top five teams and six of the top 10 lost, it was enough to keep the No. 1 ranking."They were really disappointed on Thursday night. And instead of carrying that disappointment into a woe is me' mentality, they really did trigger how to get better. And I think it was in the sense of closing games," Crean said."I think there was a different level, a sense of urgency because of the way we didn't finish it off, combined with the fact that we knew we were playing a team that it is outstanding."This ends a stretch of five consecutive weeks with a new No. 1, two weeks short of the longest such stretch in 1993-94. Duke started the run followed by Louisville, Duke again, Michigan and Indiana.The Hoosiers received 26 first-place votes from the 65-member national media panel Monday, while Duke, the only member of the top five not to lose last week, moved up two spots to second after getting 20 first-place votes.The last time a No. 1 team lost and kept the ranking the next week was the final poll of last season. Kentucky fell to Vanderbilt in the Southeastern Conference tournament championship game, but Nos. 2-4 also went down that week, so the Wildcats were No. 1 heading into the NCAA tournament.Miami, which received 17 No. 1 votes, jumped from eighth to No. 3, the Hurricanes' highest ranking ever."I've never really thought that Miami could be a top 10 program," center Reggie Johnson said. "I didn't think we'd be here in February. It's surreal. The votes are cool, but we've still got work to do."The Hurricanes are the last team from a major conference to still be unbeaten in league play."It's what every program strives for," coach Jim Larranaga said. "Carolina and Duke have this every year. It's a little different for us. These guys are hungry. They remain very, very humble."Michigan dropped one spot to fourth, while Gonzaga, which got the other two first-place votes, moved up one spot to fifth.Syracuse was sixth, followed by Florida, Michigan State, Arizona and Kansas State.Along with Indiana and Ohio State, the other top 10 teams to lose last week were No. 2 Florida, No. 3 Michigan, No. 5 Kansas and No. 7 Arizona.There were four newcomers to the rankings: No. 20 Wisconsin, No. 22 Memphis, No. 24 Colorado State and No. 25 Kentucky.Wisconsin, Memphis and Kentucky, the defending national champion, were all ranked early in the season, while Colorado State makes it first appearance in the poll since March 9, 1954.They replace Creighton, Cincinnati, Minnesota and Missouri, the only one of the four not to lose two games last week.In all, 14 ranked teams lost at least once, with five losing twice.
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Earlier this month the Boston Celtics took a season-high 42 three-pointers in a game which raised a few eyebrows.
And you know what?
No one would be surprised if the Celtics (12-8) surpassed that total tonight when they face the Houston Rockets who have set the pace when it comes to launching 3-point bombs in the NBA this season with 37.0 attempts per game.
The Celtics aren’t too far behind, averaging 30.8 three-pointers which ranks fifth in the NBA.
But what makes these two teams so unique is that in addition to taking a lot of 3s, they also rank among the NBA’s leaders when it comes to knocking them down.
The Rockets (13-7) make an NBA-high 14.0 three-pointers per game while the Celtics are fifth in the league with 11.1 made 3s per game.
And the key to that stat is that both teams shoot a surprisingly high percentage from 3-point range as well.
Houston’s 37.8 percent from 3-point range is the fifth-best mark in the NBA while the Celtics shoot 36.0 percent on 3's which ranks 10th in the league.
So what does all this 3-ball shooting mean?
It means get your popcorn ready for what should be one of the more exciting, high-scoring games on the Boston Celtics’ schedule this season.
Here are some other key stats to keep tabs on during tonight’s game.
FIRST QUARTER SCORING
There is no team in the NBA better at jumping on you from the outset, then Houston. They lead the NBA in first-quarter scoring with 31.2 points per game while shooting 51.9 percent in the quarter which is also tops in the NBA. But there’s a downside to their first quarter success. Houston’s first quarter defense is pretty bad, ranking 27th in the league in first-quarter points allowed (28.5) while allowing teams to shoot a league-worst 52.3 percent from the field in the game’s first 12 minutes.
FOURTH QUARTER SCORING
As impressive as Houston is to start games, the Boston Celtics are just as dominant offensively in the fourth quarter. Boston averages a league-best 29.1 points per game in the fourth compared to the Rockets whose 24.4 points in the fourth ranks 21st in the NBA. Boston’s strong finish to games is aided by a defense that seems to save its best work for the fourth quarter. Opponents are shooting just 40.6 percent against the Celtics in the fourth which ranks as the third-best fourth quarter defense in the NBA.
OFFENSIVE REBOUND PERCENTAGE
Boston’s struggles on the boards are well documented which includes - but is certainly not limited to - offensive rebounding. The Rockets will present a major problem to Boston when it comes to trying to avoid Houston getting second and third-shot opportunities. The Rockets rank fifth in the NBA in second-chance points (15.3) per game while the Celtics’ defense allows 15.2 second-chance points which ranks 27th in the league. And Boston’s offensive rebounding percentage for opponents ranks dead-last in the NBA at .265.
Both teams rank among the league leaders in assists per game with Boston’s 24.4 assists per game average No. 2 in the NBA and Houston’s 24.3 assists ranks fourth. But more telling is how the Celtics rely more heavily on keeping the ball moving, more so than the Rockets. You see this in Boston averaging 329.2 passes per game which ranks third in the NBA while the Rockets’ 273.5 passes per game average is 29th in the league. Still, Houston’s passing game is to be respected especially when you consider the lofty assists numbers they’ve racked up in addition to them getting 59.2 points created via the assist according to nba.com/stats
These two are at opposite ends of the basketball world when it comes to turnovers. Boston commits 12.3 per game which is the fourth-fewest committed in the NBA while the Rockets are turning the ball over 16.1 times per game and that ranks 27th in the league. And these two remain widely far apart in the fourth quarter which is when the Celtics turn the ball over a league-low 2.2 times per game in the fourth while Houston turns the ball more than twice as much (4.5) which ranks 29th in the league.