VIDEO: Hawks vs. Celtics: By the Numbers
HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — The Atlanta Hawks took a step backward this season. After leading the Eastern Conference with a franchise-record 60 wins last season, they were unable to recapture the magic they had on the offensive end of the floor.
But while Atlanta isn’t the offensive team that it was a year ago, it has become an elite team defensively. The Hawks ranked second in defensive efficiency, and first since late December. And because they’re healthier this year, they may be a better playoff team than they were in 2015.
You can say the same thing about the Boston Celtics, who, like the Hawks, got swept out of the 2015 playoffs by the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Celtics made one key addition (Amir Johnson) this year, but also got better with internal improvement. And like the Hawks, they’ve done their best work on the defensive end of the floor.
The Hawks are making their ninth straight playoff appearance, a streak that began with a first-round loss to Boston in 2008. This is a much different Celtics team, one that seemingly has more steps to take in the future. Atlanta has home-court advantage and won the season series, but these teams were even in the Eastern Conference standings.
Here are some statistical notes to get you ready for the 4-5 series in the East, with links to let you dive in and explore more.
Atlanta Hawks (48-34)
Pace: 99.4 (8)
OffRtg: 103.0 (18)
DefRtg: 98.8 (2)
NetRtg: +4.1 (7)
- Had the league’s No. 1 defense after Christmas, allowing just 97.6 points per 100 possessions over their last 51 games.
- Opponents shot just 56.7 percent in the restricted area, the lowest mark in the league.
- Were the league’s best fourth quarter team, outscoring their opponents by 10.7 points per 100 possessions.
- The only team that regressed in each of the offensive four factors. They shot worse, grabbed fewer offensive rebounds, turned the ball over more, and got to the free throw line less than they did last season.
- Grabbed just 19.1 percent of available offensive boards, the lowest offensive rebounding percentage since the league started counting offensive rebounds in 1973.
- Starting lineup played 892 minutes together, the second most in the league and the most among lineups that are still together.
- Led the league with 1,320 “wide open” 3-point attempts.
- Kyle Korver had an effective field goal percentage of 56.3 percent, down from 67.1 percent last season. That was the biggest drop-off among 124 players who took at least 500 shots both seasons.
Boston Celtics (48-34)
Pace: 101.1 (3)
OffRtg: 103.9 (13)
DefRtg: 100.9 (5)
NetRtg: +3.0 (9)
- One of two teams (San Antonio was the other) that made the playoffs last season and was at least 1.0 points per 100 possessions better on both ends of the floor this season.
- Attempted only 251 shots in the last four seconds of the shot clock, fewest in the league.
- Isaiah Thomas was one of three players (James Harden and Russell Westbrook were the others) with at least 500 free throw attempts and 500 assists.
- Jared Sullinger grabbed 18.7 percent of available rebounds when he was on the floor, up from 15.4 percent last season. Among 211 players who logged at least 1,000 minutes both seasons, that was the fourth biggest increase in rebounding percentage.
- Marcus Smart shot 22.3 percent on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers, the worst mark among 174 players who attempted at least 100.
- Avery Bradley was one of eight players and the only guard to shoot 70 percent on at least 200 attempts in the restricted area.
- Had an effective field goal percentage of just 44.4 percent from outside the paint, the fourth lowest mark in the league and the lowest among playoff teams.
- The Hawks’ effective field goal percentage of 56.5 percent was the best mark of any Eastern Conference team against the Celtics.
- Paul Millsap averaged 22.5 points on 58 percent shooting. Those were his best numbers against any Eastern Conference opponent.
- In the Nov. 24 meeting, with Kent Bazemore out, the Hawks started a lineup of Jeff Teague, Korver, Thabo Sefolosha, Millsap and Al Horford. It outscored the Celtics, 42-25, in 14 minutes.
- The Celtics’ starting lineup was outscored 77-58 in 30 minutes over three games against Atlanta.
- Jonas Jerebko shot 1-for-16 in the four games. Evan Turner shot 6-for-24 from outside the restricted area.