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Irish Coffee: Celtics a slam dunk

03.10.11 at 12:38 pm ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

Between Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon, the Clippers own four of the top 10 throwdowns on NBA.com’s Dunk Ladder. Not to mention the fact that DeAndre Jordan had more than twice as many dunks (7) during the Clips’ 108-103 victory against the Celtics on Wednesday night as Rajon Rondo has had all season (3).

So, I figured now is as good a time as any to check out the dunk statistics for the Celtics, especially in comparison to their performance during the 2007-08 season. Thanks to CBS Sports’ Dunk-O-Meter and Roto Evil’s Slam Dunk Stats, we can do that.

If an aging NBA veteran has almost twice as many dunks through 62 games this season than he did during a year in which he captured the NBA Finals MVP, that seems to say a lot about the kind of lift and athleticism that’s still in his legs, right?

Of course, I’m talking about Paul Pierce, who according to CBS Sports has slammed 28 dunks already this season — including the highlight-reel one last night that can be seen in the video that accompanies this blog (thanks to @MrTripleDouble10). By comparison, Pierce recorded just 16 dunks in the 2007-08 regular season.

Count Ray Allen in the same category, as his 11 dunks so far this year are two more than he produced during the entire season three years ago. Glen Davis has already more than doubled his dunking output (11 in 2010-11, compared to 5 in 2007-08), but that can be credited to his increased role as the Sixth Man on this year’s squad.

If we can draw conclusions about how much more lift or aggressiveness Pierce has this year compared to three seasons ago based on his increased number of dunks, is the same true for those going in reverse? That means you, Kevin Garnett.

The naked eye test suggests Garnett has been more active and aggressive around the basket than he’s ever been in a Celtics uniform, but could it be that we’re simply remembering the guy who’s been hobbled by knee problems the last two years?

Garnett has registered 42 dunks this season, half as many as he did in the 2007-08 season. But don’t be alarmed, because he’s actually finishing at a slightly higher percentage at the rim this season (73.9 percent) than three years ago (73.0). Likewise for Pierce (up 12.2 percent at the rim) and Allen (up 4.3 percent).

In fact, among guys who log at least 25 minutes a night, Garnett, Pierce and Nenad Krstic all rank ahead of Griffin in the league’s top 20 in terms of shooting percentage at the rim, according to HoopData.com.

Despite dunking only three times all season, Rondo is shooting at a higher clip around the rim than any other season in his career. Of course, he hasn’t been getting to the rim as much as he has the last two seasons, as his shot attempts at the rim per game have dropped from 5.4 in 2009-10 to 4.1 this year.

While none of the Celtics will approach the slam dunk numbers of Griffin (157) and Jordan (133) — who rank second and third in the NBA, respectively — Pierce & Co. are performing better at the rim this season than they did during the 2008  title run. That’s encouraging, if only as a sign of the athleticism left in their aging legs.

A CELTICS LAYUP DRILL

Speaking of finishing around the rim, let’s run through some Celtics links and thoughts in a quickfire fashion that Irish Coffee likes to call the Layup Drill …

Troy Murphy has a -24 plus/minus in just 45:26 on the floor. That’s bad. Sasha Pavlovic (-15) and Jeff Green (-4) are also in negative numbers. Among the new guys, only Krstic (+44) and Carlos Arroyo (+8) are in positive figures. …

Based on the clutch statistics — defined as “fourth quarter or overtime, less than five minutes left, neither team ahead by more than five points” by 82games.com — Ray Allen is shooting 51.5 percent from 3-point range in the clutch, which is the eighth-best mark in the league. That makes sense. But would you have guessed that Davis has the best field-goal percentage among the Celtics in the clutch at 55.0 percent? …

According to Sportsbook.com, the Celtics (+350) have surpassed the Heat (+400) but still trail the Lakers (+200) as favorites to win the 2011 NBA title. Bodog.com still has Miami (13/4) favored over Boston (4/1) in the Eastern Conference…

In just six games with the Celtics, Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic have already recorded 20-point nights for the C’s. Green scored 21 points against the Warriors last week, and Krstic netted 20 against the Clippers on Wednesday night. The last time Kendrick Perkins scored 20 in a Celtics uniform? Jan. 6, 2010, 57 games ago. …

Speaking of Krstic, he intimated to the Sporting News that he’d like to stay in Boston beyond his current contact, which ends at the end of this season: “It was a good time in Oklahoma City, but I think I am going to have a better time here. … So far, it’€™s been good, and when you have a chance to play for a team like this, of course, you hope you can do it for a long time.’€

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’€™s Irish Coffee or a future mailbag? Send an e-mail tobrohrbach@weei.com or a Twitter message to @brohrbach.)

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, nenad krstic, Paul Pierce
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