Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
Mercifully, the Celtics have no more back-to-back games. After recording an 8-11 record in 19 back-to-backs this year – including a 2-8 record in their last 10 — the C’s won’t be playing on consecutive nights in the playoffs. So, just how much better are the Celtics with one or more days rest?
Before we attempt to answer that, it’s important to consider these three things:
- 1) The Celtics have allowed an NBA-best 91.0 points per game, and even in back-to-back games they held opponents to an average of 92.3 points, which still would’ve ranked third in the league this year.
- 2) The Celtics scored 96.3 points per game, ranking 24th out of 30 NBA teams. In back-to-backs, they averaged just 91.6 points a game, which would’ve ranked last in the league this season.
- 3) While the 2011 NBA Playoff schedule hasn’t been released yet, in their 24 playoff games last season the Celtics played 14 on one day rest, six on two days rest and four on three or more days rest.
- 4) The Celtics will go as far as the Big Four take them. Plain and simple. And considering Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo are the only C’s to play 30-plus minutes a night, they’re in need of the most rest.
Now, let’s compare the Big Four’s performances on one, two, three or more days rest as opposed to their numbers in back-to-back games. How significant is their improvement with fresher legs (individual bests in bold)?
- Totals (80 games): 34.7 min, 18.9 pts, 49.7 fg%, 37.4 3p%, 86.0 ft%, 5.4 reb, 3.3 apg, 2.1 to
- 0 days rest (18 games): 35.7 min, 19.0 pts, 46.4 fg%, 41.4 3p%, 88.9 ft%, 5.9 reb, 3.2 apg, 2.3 to
- 1 day rest (42 games): 34.0 min, 18.9 pts, 50.5 fg%, 36.3 3p%, 83.4 ft%, 5.2 reb, 3.0 apg, 2.2 to
- 2 days rest (14 games): 36.4 min, 17.6 pts, 47.0 fg%, 26.3 3p%, 87.0 ft%, 5.1 reb, 4.2 apg, 2.1 to
- 3+ days rest (5 games): 31.6 min, 22.0 pts, 61.2 fg%, 57.1 3p%, 94.1 ft%, 4.8 reb, 3.2 apg, 1.2 to
- Totals (80 games): 36.1 min, 16.5 pts, 49.1 fg%, 44.4 3p%, 88.1 ft%, 3.4 reb, 2.7 apg, 1.5 to
- 0 days rest (18 games): 36.8 min, 15.5 pts, 47.2 fg%, 39.5 3p%, 85.4 ft%, 3.2 reb,2.7 apg, 1.7 to
- 1 day rest (42 games): 35.9 min, 15.8 pts, 49.7 fg%, 46.3 3p%, 89.7 ft%, 3.7 reb, 2.8 apg, 1.5 to
- 2 days rest (14 games): 37.1 min, 19.8 pts, 48.8 fg%, 43.6 3p%, 87.2 ft%, 3.2 reb, 2.6 apg, 1.3 to
- 3+ days rest (5 games): 32.2 min, 16.6 pts, 50.7 fg%, 43.5 3p%, 83.3 ft%, 3.0 reb, 2.8 apg, 0.8 to
- Totals (71 games): 31.3 min, 14.9 pts, 52.8 fg%, 20.0 3p%, 86.2 ft%, 8.9 reb, 2.4 apg, 1.6 to
- 0 days rest (16 games): 30.1 min, 13.3 pts, 52.9 fg%, 0.0 3p%, 80.0 ft%, 9.3 reb, 2.1 apg, 1.4 to
- 1 day rest (35 games): 31.3 min, 15.1 pts, 53.1 fg%, 33.3 3p%, 90.0 ft%, 8.7 reb, 2.6 apg, 1.7 to
- 2 days rest (13 games): 32.2 min, 14.8 pts, 49.0 fg%, 0.0 3p%, 81.6 ft%, 8.5 reb, 1.8 apg, 1.1 to
- 3+ days rest (6 games): 31.3 min, 19.0 pts, 60.8 fg%, 0.0 3p%, 94.7 ft%, 9.3 reb, 3.2 apg, 1.7 to
- Totals (68 games): 37.2 min, 47.5 fg%, 23.3 3p%, 56.8 ft%, 10.6 pts, 4.4 reb, 11.2 apg, 3.4 to
- 0 days rest (18 games): 38.0 min, 12.0 pts, 45.5 fg%, 25.0 3p%, 71.9 ft%, 4.2 reb, 10.6 apg, 3.6 to
- 1 day rest (42 games): 36.3 min, 9.7 pts, 45.5 fg%, 21.1 3p%, 54.8 ft%, 4.5 reb, 10.8 apg, 3.8 to
- 2 days rest (14 games): 40.8 min, 12.4 pts, 50.9 fg%, 25.0 3p%, 54.2 ft%, 5.0 reb, 10.9 apg, 1.1 to
- 3+ days rest (5 games): 34.1 min, 10.6 pts, 60.0 fg%, 25.0 3p%, 35.7 ft%, 3.4 reb, 13.3 apg, 4.5 to
Based on these numbers, it’s fairly obvious that there wasn’t much difference for any of these four guys between playing on back-to-back days or resting for one day and the biggest benefit came with three or more days rest. These offensive totals for Pierce, Allen, Garnett and Rondo reflect their improvement as a group as their days of rest increase:
- 0 days: 59.8 points, 18.6 assists
- 1 day: 59.5 points, 19.2 assists
- 2 days: 64.6 points, 19.5 assists
- 3+ days: 68.2 points, 22.5 assists
Considering the Celtics will likley play more than half their playoff games on one day of rest and likely only a handful on three or more days off, perhaps the relief that the team’s back-to-back woes are over should be tempered. But at least by throwing in the towel on the No. 2 seed with two games to play the Big Four will have at least five days rest before Game 1 of the playoffs.
With Delonte West's health in doubt, Carlos Arroyo may get the minutes he's hoped for. (AP)
DANNY GRANGER: ‘BOSTON’S A DIFFERENT MONSTER’
While the Celtics’ recent play hasn’t given anybody confidence that they can still reach the Eastern Conference finals and beyond, but at least one NBA star believes they’ll be a tougher out in the playoffs than the East-leading Bulls. Here’s what Pacers All-Star forward Danny Granger told ESPN.com  about his team’s first-round matchup against Chicago:
“Boston’s a different monster. They don’t have the best record in the East, but they won championships; they know how to do it. They have four, five guys you have to worry about. Chicago, they go as Derrick Rose goes. If you make a concerted effort to stop Derrick Rose, you have a better chance of beating them.”
CARLOS ARROYO: CELTICS SHOULD BEAT KNICKS
Celtics third-string point guard Carlos Arroyo recently granted Spanish website primerahora.com an interview, and his quotes — based on Google’s translation of the article  — are fairly blunt about his future, his minutes and his team’s playoff chances:
- On the lockout: “Because we have to keep options open in Europe in the event that this matter be extended in the NBA, many veteran free agents would look over there to find work if that happens, but I hope not to reach that point.” (Arroyo has had two separate tours of basketball duty in Eurpoean basketball leagues, in 2002 and 2008-09).
- On his playoff minutes: “Obviously, I would like to play more minutes in the playoffs to prove that I can contribute in the rotation, but I came to this team with this rotation and ready-made structure. I knew it was one of the consequences of signing with a new [team], so you have to stay patient and positive, not frustrated. So far I have not heard anything about who remain in the cut of 12, but my hope is to be there and help if they need me.”
- On practices: “This is a veteran team that has to take care of their legs and heal ailments. That’s why this team does not practice much. [They] prefer to give time to veteran players to rest, so I have many chances to show what I can do.”
- On the first round: “There are no easy opponents in the first round. Indiana is finishing up the season hard and can give anyone problems. … In the case of Philadelphia, [they] have plenty of youth, good legs on defense and are motivated. New York, in turn, has a good heart and can be dangerous scoring with players like Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups and Amar’e Stoudemire. I think Boston should beat either, but you have to play. It will not be easy.”
Considering Delonte West re-injured his right ankle, which already featured a chipped bone, and Celtics coach Doc Rivers put no timetable on his return, Arroyo may get his wish with an expanded role in the playoffs.
(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee or a future mailbag? Send an e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org  or a Twitter message to @brohrbach .)
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