On Saturday night the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers will fight in an elimination Game 7 to advance out of the Eastern Conference Semifinals and take on the Miami Heat in the Conference Finals. Here are seven stats to keep in mind for Game 7.
1. The Celtics and 76ers have identical postseason records at 7-5 each.
2. How much will the Garden factor into tonight's game? The Celtics and 76ers share the same homeroad records this postseason. Both teams are 5-1 at home and 4-2 on the road.
3. The Celtics are 1-0 this postseason when playing on Saturday. They won Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals Series on Saturday, May 12 in Boston. The 76ers are 0-2 on the same day of the week, also losing on April 28 to the Chicago Bulls in the first round.
4. The third quarter has been a turning point for the Celtics several times. They are 4-3 when leading or tied after halftime, but once pulling ahead in the next 12 minutes, they are 5-0 when ahead or tied after the third.
5. The Celtics and 76ers have faced off seven times in a Game 7. The C's have a 4-2 advantage all-time. The Sixers are 1-3 in Game 7's played in Boston.
6. During the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Rajon Rondo passed Dennis Johnson for fifth place in Celtics franchise postseason assists. He needs 14 to tie Bill Russell, who holds the fourth spot with 770 playoff dimes as a Celtic.
7. Neither team has won back-to-back games in this series.
BOSTON – Another year, another season in which Avery Bradley plans to showcase a new and improved skill that will benefit the Boston Celtics.
But with each improved skill, Bradley moves just that much closer to being an all-around, two-way talent that creates problems for teams at both ends of the floor.
We all know about Bradley’s defense, which was good enough to land him a spot on the NBA’s All-Defensive first team last season. He also gets props for steadily improving his game offensively in some area every summer, but defenses might have their hands full more than ever with Bradley.
According to NBA stats guru Dick Lipe, the 6-foot-2 Bradley was the only guard in the NBA last season to shoot better than 70 percent in the restricted area among players who took a minimum of 200 field goal attempts.
He is among a list that includes Los Angeles Clippers big men DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin; Miami’s Hassan Whiteside; current teammate and former Atlanta Hawk Al Horford; San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge; Golden State’s Kevin Durant and Atlanta big man Dwight Howard.
But if you’re thinking about keeping him away from that part of the floor, Bradley also made the 3-point shot a bigger part of his offensive game last season; as in, 40 percent of his shots came from beyond the 3-point line.
Having that kind of diversity makes him a difficult player to get a clear read on how to defend. And because of that, it may open things up even more so for his teammates.
Bradley can shoot from the perimeter; he can score close to the rim. His ball-handling skills have improved in the offseason to where it no longer looks as though it’s a major weakness.
And he defends at a level few players in the league can match.
Collectively it makes Bradley one of the many challenges awaiting teams whenever they face the Celtics, a player who is poised to showcase his diverse set of skills beginning tonight against the Brooklyn Nets.
Tonight’s pregame number to watch is 45.4%. That was the Celtics' score frequency on pick and rolls finished by the screener last season, which was the worst rate in the NBA.
Score Frequency: The percentage of possession in which the team or player scores at least 1 point.
The major problem for the Celtics last season was personnel, as Jared Sullinger finished the most pick and roll plays for the C’s after setting a screen, and he was -- to put it nicely -- freaking terrible. Sullinger was the second-worst roll/pop man in the league, averaging a paltry 0.87 points per possession.
Fortunately, the Celtics replaced Jared Sullinger with four-time All-Star Al Horford, who is one of the elite roll/pop men in the NBA. Last season, Horford finished fifth in the NBA averaging 1.13 points per possession as a roll/pop man and boasted a more than solid 57.1 eFG% on those plays.
eFG% (Effective Field Goal Percentage): Measures field goal percentage adjusting for the fact that a 3-point field goal is worth one more point than a 2-point field goal. The equation is ((FGM + (0.5 * 3PM)) / FGA
If you watched the preseason, then you already know the kind of impact Horford can have on the Celtics half court offense. So keep an eye out for those pick and rolls tonight and throughout the season, and we should see that 45.4% Score Frequency jump somewhere closer to 50%.