Green Street
NEED TO KNOW
Don't forget to follow Ben on Twitter.
A WEEI.com Celtics Blog
WEEI.com Blog Network

Irish Coffee: Celtics vs. Knicks tale of the tape

04.15.11 at 12:28 pm ET
By

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

Ah, the first round of the NBA Playoffs. The grass is greener, and Boston is Greener. The Celtics (56-26) and Knicks (42-40) are squaring off in the postseason for the first time since the former blew a two-game lead in a best-of-five series against the latter in 1990. Boston Garden vs. Madison Square Garden. Blue collar against big dollar. Hammer. Nail. You get the picture. Let’s go to the tape …

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Celtics 4, Knicks 0

107.8 … points … 101.3
9.8 … fast break points … 12.8
53.0 … points in the paint … 42.5
50.9FG% … 45.9
37.13P% … 33.6
79.5FT% … 75.8
45.3 … rebounds … 37.0
10.0 … o-rebounds … 9.8
35.3 … d-rebounds … 27.2
23.8 … assists … 21.3
8.3 … steals … 6.8
1.0 … blocks6.3
13.3 … turnovers … 14.0
21.0 … personal fouls19.3

That’s pretty lopsided, until you consider the Celtics and Knicks as currently constituted really only faced each other once. In fact, eight of the 24 guys that suited up for their first regular-season meeting are no longer playing for their respective teams. In that lone post-trades matchup — a 96-86 comeback Celtics victory — the C’s shot better, rebounded better, took care of the ball better and played better defense. They even dominated the paint (44-28) and the fast break (18-7).

Now, let’s examine how the Celtics and Knicks produced this season (league ranks in parentheses):

AVERAGES (OFFENSE)

Celtics vs. Knicks

96.5 (23rd) … points … 106.5 (2nd)
n/a … fast break points … n/a
38.2 (16th) … points in the paint … 43.3 (2nd)
48.6 (1st) … FG% … 45.7 (19th)
36.5 (12th) … 3P% … 36.8 (8th)
77.0 (11th) … FT% … 80.9 (2nd)
38.8 (29th) … rebounds … 40.5 (20th)
7.8 (30th) … o-rebounds … 10.3 (22nd)
31.0 (13th) … d-rebounds … 30.1 (18th)
23.4 (4th) … assists … 21.4 (15th)
8.2 (3rd) … steals … 7.6 (13th)
4.2 (27th) … blocks … 5.8 (9th)
14.6 (22nd) … turnovers … 13.7 (10th)
20.5 (16th) … personal fouls … 21.3 (10th)

OPPONENT AVERAGES (DEFENSE)

Celtics vs. Knicks

91.1 (1st) … points … 105.7 (28th)
n/a … fast break points … n/a
35.6 (7th) … points in the paint … 43.0 (30th)
43.4 (3rd) … FG% … 47.2 (26th)
34.0 (5th) … 3P% … 37.2 (25th)
75.6 (9th) … FT% … 76.2 (13th)
39.6 (4th) … rebounds … 44.0 (28th)
10.5 (8th) … o-rebounds … 11.8 (26th)
29.1 (4th) … d-rebounds … 32.3 (28th)
18.7 (1st) … assists … 20.5 (8th)
7.0 (9th) … steals … 7.2 (13th)
4.4 (10th) … blocks … 4.4 (9th)
15.4 (5th) … turnovers … 15.2 (6th)
20.2 (9th) … personal fouls … 20.8 (15th)

Obviously, the Knicks have a high-powered offense and the Celtics have an elite defense. That much is obvious. But the Celtics own two key offensive advantages, as the better shooting team and the better passing team, while the Knicks don’t have the edge in any any valuable defensive category, although they do create a lot of turnovers. The real surprise is that the Celtics are actually a better defensive rebounding team while allowing fewer offensive rebounds.

Now, for the statheads like me, let’s take a look at the advanced stats for these two teams:

Celtics vs. Knicks

92.3 (24th) … pace … 97.8 (4th)
23.3 (1st) … assist rate … 19.7 (20th)
14.5 (28th) … turnover rate … 12.6 (5th)
14.8 (3rd) … opponents’ turnover rate … 13.8 (9th)
-0.4 (11th) … turnover rate differential … -1.2 (8th)
21.1 (30th) … offensive rebound rate … 24.2 (24th)
25.3 (9th) … opponents’ offensive rebound rate … 28.1 (26th)
-4.2 (29th) … offensive rebound rate differential … -3.8 (27th)
74.7 (9th) … defensive rebound rate … 71.9 (26th)
49.5 (19th) … rebound rate … 47.9 (28th)
51.9 (7th) … effective FG% … 51.3 (8th)
46.9 (2nd) … opponents’ effective FG% … 51.1 (23rd)
5.0 (1st) … effective FG% differential … 0.2 (14th)
30.5 (10th) … free throw rate … 30.4 (11th)
31.0 (21st) … opponents’ free throw rate … 31.5 (22nd)
-0.5 (16th) … free throw rate differential … -1.1 (18th)
56.1 (5th) … true shooting percentage … 56.1 (5th)
104.0 (17th) … offensive efficiency … 108.3 (5th)
97.8 (2nd) … defensive efficiency … 106.9 (21st)
6.2 (6th) … efficiency differential … 1.4 (13th)

While the Knicks’ 3-point and free-throw shooting narrows the true shooting gap between the two teams, the Celtics shoot more effectively while holding their opponents to a much lower effective field-goal percentage. That’s really all you need to know. And then when you consider the C’s assist and rebound at a higher rate, this matchup becomes even more lopsided. Where are the Knicks’ advantages? They play at a faster pace and cause more turnovers? That’s not going to get it done over the course of a seven-game series. Can it win them one or two games? Sure. But not four.

No wonder Bodog.com has the Celtics (-380) as heavy favorites over the Knicks (+290) in the series.

If you’re looking for the individual matchups — Rajon Rondo vs. Chauncey Billups, Ray Allen vs. Landry Fields, Paul Pierce vs. Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Garnett vs. Amar’e Stoudemire, the centers and the benches — check out Paul Flannery’s breakdown. Here’s my take …

  • Point guard: Advantage Celtics (speed kills)
  • Shooting guard: Advantage Celtics (c’mon, it’s Ray Allen against Landry Fields)
  • Small forward: Even (Melo’s offense vs. Pierce’s total package)
  • Power forward: Even (just an epic matchup)
  • Centers: Huh? (Does Shaquille O’Neal play 15 minutes a night? If so, I’d give the Celtics the edge)
  • Benches: Advantage Celtics (not even a question)
  • Coaches: Advantage Celtics (Doc Rivers has a title; Mike D’Antoni doesn’t. It’s that simple.)

Think that’s homerism? Well, the New York Post’s take is pretty similar, although they give Stoudemire the edge over Garnett and the Celtics the advantage at center. Still, they picked Celtics in six, as would I.

(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, NBA playoffs, New York Knicks, Shaquille O'Neal
2013 NBA Draft Board
2014 NBA Draft
Celtics Headlines
NBA Headlines