Monday, October 15, 2018

Plenty of Milestones in Sight for the 2018-19 Boston Celtics

By Adam Lowenstein (@StatsAdam)

The Celtics have a very similar roster to last year, but fans hope that the playoff roster rotation is vastly different from the one that fell to the Cleveland LeBroniers in the 2018 postseason.

Before looking ahead to 2018-19, let us rewind to the previous season with some team milestones. The 2017-18 Celtics allowed fewer than 10 offensive rebounds per game for the first time in franchise history.

In addition, the Celtics were the best in the league in defense. Boston allowed the second-lowest opponent effective field goal percentage in the NBA last season, and the team was strong in preventing corner 3-point attempts. Celtics’ opponents attempted just 18 percent of their 3-pointers from the corner, the best mark in the NBA last year.

There were some very impressive feats last year on the offensive side. The Celtics were able to vault from middle of the pack in 2016-17 to the second-best 3-point percentage squad last year with the likes of Jayson Tatum and Al Horford firing on all cylinders from downtown. They finished fourth and fifth respectively in single-season 3-point percentage in Celtics history (minimum 200 attempts).

Tatum’s .434 mark from beyond the arc puts him on pace to be the best 3-point shooter, percentage wise, in Celtics history. Ray Allen’s .409 is the top number, while Eddie House put up a .412 in many fewer attempts, so it is safe to say Allen reigns supreme.

The only better team in terms of 3-point shooting in the NBA last season was the Golden State Warriors, who went on to win their second consecutive championship. If Boston can improve further on its deep ball, then the green could be trying to out-3-point the defending champions in June 2019.

A man who will need to be the key to the Celtics’ success in 2018-19 will be Kyrie Irving. His single-season player efficiency rating of 25.0 in 2017-18 ranked eighth in Celtics franchise history. His usage percentage of 31.0 also ranked fourth in team history.

Meanwhile, the Celtics reportedly will be unable to extend Terry Rozier’s contract before he becomes a restricted free agent next off season. His turnover career percentage of 9.3 ranks fourth in franchise history. His 51 made 3-pointers in the postseason ranked fourth in the NBA last season, as he hopes to be a starting point guard in the near future, so that does not bode well for current contract talks with the green.

For now, the contracts are not as big of a deal because this Celtics team is ready to make a run at banner 18. Kyrie Irving’s .875 free throw percentage ranks 22nd in NBA history and third in franchise history, as he hopes to rise the ranks this year. However, Boston as a team was 17th in the league in free throw shooting last season. Irving may have to show his teammates a thing or two about shooting from the line.

Irving’s effective field goal percentage of .568 puts him on pace to set the franchise’s record in that area. Kendrick Perkins’ EFG% of .563 is the current record holder, with Ray Allen at an impressive .561 with just a slight more difficulty in his shots than the man in the middle. Shooting is very important, and Brad Stevens does a very good job scheming for high-percentage shots.

A large part of the Celtics’ success in 2018-19 will also depend on rebounding. The last Celtics championship team in 2008 was very strong with its rebounding, and Aron Baynes will try to lead the charge. His 13.0 offensive rebounding percentage in 2018 playoffs ranked third in the NBA.

It remains to be seen what the key to the upcoming season will be for the Celtics. As the 2017-18 season unfolded, health was the key. We have to see if a trade occurs or if any another big transaction happens, but all we know is a lot of great basketball is ahead.

For more sports coverage, follow Adam Lowenstein on Twitter at @StatsAdam. Statistics used from

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