How the Celtics got their Groove Back (maybe)

“The graveyards are full of indispensable men.”- Charles de Gaulle

You may have heard but we put some new tools in for you. The tool is the game splits combined with out New Points over Par (POP) Metric. What our intent in putting this tool together was is pretty straightforward. We wanted:

  • To be able to look at individual games or periods as we wished very quickly
  • A number that very quickly and intuitively gave us an indication of the value of player contribution.

The classic Wins Produced formula contains all the information and while very accessible to card-carrying stat  geeks can be somewhat hard for the casual fan to follow. Wins are easy enough to understand on a season to season basis but on a game to game level we needed an adjustment. What we wanted really to know for each player is how many points better than the opposing team does that player make you? Or more simple put :

If Team A won by ten points who was responsible for those ten points?

The math was fairly straightforward. The result is fairly intuitive.

The basic unit is 3 points. A team of perfectly average players would be expected to score as many points as their opponents and win half their games. Add in stars and superstars and you win more. Play scrubs and bench players and you’re headed for the lottery.

The best part of this is that it allows us to ask all sorts of interesting questions:

Let’s put these tools to the test shall we?

Let’s start with a question near and dear to my heart. Have my beloved Celtics gotten their groove back and if so why. I may have some theories. The key idea is subtraction by addition.

Let’s start as with most stories at the beggining.

That’s the Boston Celtics as they looked for the 2010-2012 season. Please note that for the most part the Celtics shed all their negative POP players (via trades,cuts or injury) .  You might guess that I consider this a very smart strategy or a fair bit of luck. Given that, if you assumed that they went out and replaced those minutes with average to middling players things would go well.

What has actually happened is a bit different.

The Celts have dodged a Green,Baby and Nate bullet but have not avoided Jermaine, Marquis, Avery and Jermaine for the most part this season. Jermaine in particular has been problematic as he’s drawn minutes from other better players at the 4 and 5.

But a funny thing has happened since the Celts lost Mr. O’neal to injury and moved Mr. Garnett to the 5.

KG is seemingly back and this has improved the team in spite of the fact that both Rondo and Pierce have not played to par. As a Celtics fan , I find this very encouraging and have to wonder why the simple solution of moving the aging superstar PF to the 5 to make it easier on him had not occurred to the C’s before.

Not exactly a novel concept


Subtraction by addition, with apologies to Jeff Green and Jermaine O’neal and good riddance to Big Baby. Now If we can only find a decent swingman for the sixth man spot.


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