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Irish Coffee: Celtics vs. Bulls tale of the tape

Posted By Ben Rohrbach On April 7, 2011 @ 2:42 pm In General | 3 Comments

Wake up with the Celtics [1] and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

In a potential Eastern Conference finals preview on Thursday night, little separates the Celtics and Bulls — head-to-head, offensively or defensively. Chicago (57-20) owns a three-game lead over the C’s (54-23) for the No. 1 seed, but Doc Rivers [2] & Co. have won two of their three head-to-head matchups against their old assistant Tom Thibodeau [3]. In order to determine where the advantages lie, let’s go straight to the tape …

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Celtics vs. Bulls

97.7 … points … 95.7
11.0 … fast break points … 9.3
44.7 … points in the paint … 40.0
37.7-79.0 (47.7) … FGM-A (%) … 34.7-74.0 (46.9)
3.3-10.7 (31.3) … 3PM-A (%) … 4.0-10.7 (37.5)
19.0-23.0 (82.6) … FTM-A (%) … 22.3-29.0 (77.0)
34.0 … rebounds … 41.7
5.0 … o-rebounds … 9.0
29.0 … d-rebounds … 32.7
22.7 … assists … 19.7
10.0 … steals … 5.3
4.0 … blocks … 4.3
10.3 … turnovers … 17.3
22.7 … personal fouls … 20.0

Considering the Celtics were missing Shaquille O’Neal [4] in Game 1, Jermaine O’Neal [5] in Game 2 and Kevin Garnett [6] in Game 3, while the Bulls missed Carlos Boozer in Game 1 and Joakim Noah [7] in Game 3, injuries didn’t play a huge role in the overall production. So, the Celtics’ shooting (points & FG%), passing (assists) and defensive (points/percentages allowed, steals and turnovers) are legitimate, as is the Bulls’ across-the-board rebounding edge.

Now, let’s examine how well the Celtics and Bulls have produced throughout the season:

AVERAGES (OFFENSE)

Celtics vs. Bulls

96.7 … points … 98.6
n/a … fast break points … n/a
38.1 … points in the paint … 33.5
37.0-75.9 (48.8) … FGM-A (%) … 37.1-80.6 (46.1)
5.1-13.8 (36.7) … 3PM-A (%) … 6.2-17.2 (36.1)
17.6-23.0 (76.6) … FTM-A (%) … 18.2-24.7 (73.7)
38.9 … rebounds … 44.2
7.8 … o-rebounds … 11.9
31.1 … d-rebounds … 32.3
23.7 … assists … 22.2
8.2 … steals … 7.2
4.2 … blocks … 5.7
14.4 … turnovers … 14.1
20.6 … personal fouls … 20.1

OPPONENT AVERAGES (DEFENSE)

Celtics vs. Bulls

90.8 … points allowed … 91.5
n/a … fast break points allowed … n/a
35.5 … points in the paint allowed … 35.6
33.6-77.6 (43.3) … FGM-A (%) … 34.2-79.5 (43.0)
5.4-16.0 (34.0) … 3PM-A (%) … 5.2-15.8 (32.7)
18.2-24.1 (75.6) … FTM-A (%) … 17.8-23.5 (76.0)
39.5 … rebounds … 38.6
10.4 … o-rebounds … 10.2
29.1 … d-rebounds … 28.5
18.7 … assists … 19.0
6.8 … steals … 6.9
4.4 … blocks … 5.9
15.3 … turnovers … 14.2
20.1 … personal fouls … 20.2

While the Bulls might possess a slight advantage offensively, the Celtics probably own an equally slight advantage defensively. Given the fact that the Celtics have won 2-of-3 showdowns — and 2-of-2 with Garnett — in addition to owning the more abstract advantage of experience, it’s hard to argue for the Bulls as the better team in this matchup.

When it comes to individual matchups, does the same hold true? Let’s break it down …

STARTING POINT GUARD: ADVANTAGE BULLS

Bulls point guard Derrick Rose [8] is probably the favorite to capture the NBA’s Most Valuable Player honor, but the Celtics have a pretty good floor general, too. So, just how much better has Rose been this year than Rondo?

AVERAGES

Rajon Rondo [9] vs. Derrick Rose

10.6 … points25.1
47.7 … FG% … 44.0
24.4 … 3P% … 33.2
55.4 … FT% … 85.5
4.4 … rebounds … 4.2
11.3 … assists … 7.9
2.2 … steals … 1.1
0.2 … blocks … 0.6
3.5 … turnovers … 3.5
1.8 … personal fouls … 1.5

Given Rose’s overwhelming advantages in scoring and 3-point and free-throw shooting, it’s hard to argue that Rondo’s production is anywhere close to Rose’s. Still, Rondo’s field-goal percentage, assist and steal numbers are certainly interesting.

And how has the league’s likely MVP stacked up against Rondo in their three meetings?

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Rajon Rondo vs. Derrick Rose

11.7 … points24.7
48.6 … FG% … 45.5
0.0 … 3P% … 20.0
50.0 … FT% … 84.6
4.7 … rebounds … 4.3
12.7 … assists … 6.3
4.0 … steals … 0.0
0.0 … blocks … 0.0
2.3 … turnovers … 4.7
2.7 … personal fouls … 1.3

This matchup is far less lopsided than you might have imagined. While Rose still owns a sizable scoring edge, Rondo’s overwhelming assist-to-turnover advantage (5.5-to-1 vs. 1.3-to-1) significantly offsets that in their head-to-head meetings. Add Rondo’s steal numbers to the discussion, and the two point guards are fairly even against each other.

STARTING SHOOTING GUARD: ADVANTAGE CELTICS

Is there anybody out there who would argue Keith Bogans is better than Ray Allen [10]? Anybody? Didn’t think so. Allen is a 10-time NBA All-Star; Bogans is a 0-time NBA All-Star. The following exercise might be unnecessary, but let’s do it anyway …

AVERAGES

Ray Allen vs. Keith Bogans

16.7 … points … 4.3
49.4 … FG% … 39.9
45.3 … 3P% … 37.4
88.2 … FT% … 63.3
3.4 … rebounds … 1.8
2.7 … assists … 1.2
1.0 … steals … 0.5
0.2 … blocks … 0.1
1.5 … turnovers … 0.5
1.8 … personal fouls … 1.3

That’s pretty much what I would’ve expected, considering Allen is one of the game’s greatest shooters — and he plays twice as many minutes as Bogans. So, how big is the discrepancy between Allen and Bogans in their three head-to-head meetings?

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Ray Allen vs. Keith Bogans

19.3 … points … 2.3
56.8 … FG% … 33.3
50.0 … 3P% … 25.0
100.0 … FT% … 100.0
2.7 … rebounds … 3.0
1.3 … assists … 1.3
1.3 … steals … 1.3
0.0 … blocks … 0.0
1.7 … turnovers … 1.0
1.7 … personal fouls … 1.3

Allen has produced 17 more points per game than Bogans in their three matchups. Based on the numbers, there’s nothing that Bogans does to offset that production. In fact, these statistics suggest Bogans might be Allen’s perfect slump-busting opponent.

STARTING SMALL FORWARD: ADVANTAGE CELTICS

Sure, Luol Deng might have a reputation as a Paul Pierce [11] stopper, but how many general managers would take Deng on their team over Pierce this season? I know I wouldn’t. The real question, though, is whether or not the numbers bear that out …

AVERAGES

Paul Pierce vs. Luol Deng

18.8 … points … 17.5
49.7 … FG% … 45.8
37.5 … 3P% … 34.1
85.6 … FT% … 75.0
5.3 … rebounds … 5.7
3.3 … assists … 2.7
1.0 … steals … 1.0
0.6 … blocks … 0.6
2.1 … turnovers … 1.9
2.9 … personal fouls … 2.0

While it’s closer than I would’ve expected, Pierce’s shooting efficiency is significantly better. Do those numbers swing any closer to Deng’s favor in their head-to-head games?

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Paul Pierce vs. Luol Deng

16.3 … points … 14.7
41.3 … FG% … 38.1
22.2 … 3P% … 50.0
90.0 … FT% … 75.0
4.7 … rebounds … 7.0
2.7 … assists … 3.7
0.3 … steals … 0.7
0.3 … blocks … 0.0
0.7 … turnovers … 3.0
3.0 … personal fouls … 3.3

Indeed, Deng signicantly lessens Pierce’s impact. However, Pierce still scores more while shooting at a higher percentage and committing far fewer turnovers. But Deng’s rebounding and passing make this matchup a lot closer than I would’ve suspected.

STARTING POWER FORWARD: ADVANTAGE CELTICS

While Kevin Garnett briefly battled a leg injury, he’s been his healthiest in three seasons, as Carlos Boozer has struggled with health problems all season long. And Garnett is probably a lock at the position for the NBA’s First Team All-Defense squad. Those two points give Garnett a fairly significant edge in my eyes. Do the numbers?

AVERAGES

Kevin Garnett vs. Carlos Boozer

14.9 … points17.8
42.7 … FG% … 51.9
0.0 … 3P% … 0.0
86.4 … FT% … 69.2
8.9 … rebounds … 9.4
2.4 … assists … 2.5
1.3 … steals … 0.7
0.8 … blocks … 0.3
1.6 … turnovers … 2.5
2.1 … personal fouls … 3.1

Boozer may score and rebound more, but Garnett shoots at a higher clip while doing just about everything else better than his Bulls counterpart. Unfortunately, the two guys only faced each other once in, as each player missed a game in their three-part series …

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Kevin Garnett vs. Carlos Boozer

20 … points … 12
63.6 … FG% … 40.0
0.0 … 3P% … 0.0
100.0 … FT% … 66.7
17 … rebounds … 2
6 … assists … 0
2 … steals … 2
1 … blocks … 0
0 … turnovers … 2
1 … personal fouls … 3

This is the real separation. Garnett absolutely dominated Boozer in their lone head-to-head matchup this season. I mean, he obliterated Boozer. And that’s because Garnett’s defense neutralizes Boozer, while Boozer’s defense, well, didn’t neutralize Garnett.

STARTING CENTER: ADVANTAGE BULLS

It would probably pain any Celtics fan to admit it, but Joakim Noah is a far better option than Shaquille O’Neal, Jermaine O’Neal or Nenad Krstic [12]. He plays harder. He’s a better defender. And his offense is better than you might think. We’ll slot current starter J.O. into this analysis, but Noah out-produced all of them …

AVERAGES

Jermaine O’Neal vs. Joakim Noah

5.2 … points14.9
48.3 … FG% … 52.7
0.0 … 3P% … 0.0
73.5 … FT% … 86.4
3.6 … rebounds … 8.9
0.5 … assists … 2.4
0.1 … steals … 1.3
1.1 … blocks … 0.8
1.1 … turnovers … 1.6
2.7 … personal fouls … 2.1

Noah’s overwhelming advantage at this position may offset Allen’s dominance over Bogans. It’s that significant. Like Garnett and Boozer, J.O. and Noah each missed separate head-to-head meetings, so there’s only one matchup to examine …

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Jermaine O’Neal vs. Joakim Noah

12 … points26
83.3 … FG% … 61.5
0.0 … 3P% … 0.0
66.7 … FT% … 100.0
0 … rebounds … 12
1 … assists … 2
0 … steals … 1
1 … blocks … 1
0 … turnovers … 2
3 … personal fouls … 2

This is Garnett vs. Boozer-type domination, only the Celtics managed to win this meeting — albeit in overtime. If J.O. or Krstic can limit Noah’s impact, that would go a long way in the Celtics’ making a statement victory on Thursday night.

BENCH: ADVANTAGE BULLS

The Celtics’ bench has had as many different looks as Lady Gaga, and the current bench rotation of Glen Davis [13], Jeff Green [14], Delonte West [15] and Krstic has really only taken shape in the last few games. Meanwhile, the Bulls’ rotation of Taj Gibson, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver and Kurt Thomas [16] has been playing together for much of the season. On paper, you might take the C’s bench over the Bulls — but not on the court. Take a look at how well the two benches have performed after the All-Star break …

AVERAGES (POST ALL-STAR)

Celtics vs. Bulls

25.9 … points29.9
44.8 … FG% … 47.7
27.2 … 3P% … 41.3
73.9 … FT% … 63.8
11.7 … rebounds … 16.1
4.2 … assists … 7.3
2.5 … steals … 2.7
1.3 … blocks … 2.4
3.6 … turnovers … 3.6
7.8 … personal fouls … 8.5

The Celtics’ bench, as currently constituted, has not faced the Bulls yet this season. Their performance in the fourth head-to-head meeting between the two teams could go a long way in determining how the Eastern Conference playoffs might play out.

OVERALL: ADVANTAGE CELTICS

Why? Other than the fact that the Celtics have been there before and own the 2-1 series advantage against the Bulls, they also possess advantages at three of the starting five positions (the Big Three) and have upgraded their bench significantly since last facing the Bulls. Chicago’s roster may feature the MVP, but the Celtics own a 4-1 advantage in terms of All-Star performers this season.

Now, watch the Bulls — 4.5-point favorites — win on Thursday night and throw a wrench into this entire argument. Still, I’d put my money on the Celtics.

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’€™s Irish Coffee or a future mailbag? Send an e-mail tobrohrbach@weei.com [17] or a Twitter message to @brohrbach [18].)


Article printed from Green Street: http://greenstreet.weei.com

URL to article: http://greenstreet.weei.com/sports/boston/basketball/celtics/2011/04/07/irish-coffee-celtics-vs-bulls-tale-of-the-tape/

URLs in this post:

[1] Celtics: http://media.weei.com/basketball/boston-celtics.htm

[2] Doc Rivers: http://media.weei.com/basketball/doc-rivers.htm

[3] Tom Thibodeau: http://media.weei.com/basketball/tom-thibodeau.htm

[4] Shaquille O’Neal: http://media.weei.com/basketball/shaquille-oneal.htm

[5] Jermaine O’Neal: http://media.weei.com/basketball/jermaine-oneal.htm

[6] Kevin Garnett: http://media.weei.com/basketball/kevin-garnett.htm

[7] Joakim Noah: http://media.weei.com/basketball/joakim-noah.htm

[8] Derrick Rose: http://media.weei.com/basketball/derrick-rose.htm

[9] Rajon Rondo: http://media.weei.com/basketball/rajon-rondo.htm

[10] Ray Allen: http://media.weei.com/basketball/ray-allen-celtics.htm

[11] Paul Pierce: http://media.weei.com/basketball/paul-pierce.htm

[12] Nenad Krstic: http://media.weei.com/basketball/nenad-krstic.htm

[13] Glen Davis: http://media.weei.com/basketball/glen-davis.htm

[14] Jeff Green: http://media.weei.com/basketball/jeff-green.htm

[15] Delonte West: http://media.weei.com/basketball/delonte-west.htm

[16] Kurt Thomas: http://media.weei.com/basketball/kurt-thomas.htm

[17] brohrbach@weei.com: mailto:brohrbach@weei.com

[18] @brohrbach: http://twitter.com/brohrbach

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