The Celtics started out the season very strong. They were blowing out teams on a regular basis. In November, they scored over 100 in 10 of 14 games. They won their games by an average of just over 18 points a game. They were dominating on both ends of the court. They averaged 102.3 points per game and 42.5 rebounds per game. They shot 48% from the field and 39.9% from beyond the arc. They allowed 88 points per game by their opponents. They lost 2 games in the month of November by an average of 3.5 points per game.
In December, they scored over 100 in 8 of 14 games, down 2 from the previous month. They averaged 98.8 points per game, down 3.5 from the previous month. Rebounds were down 1.1 to 41.4 per game. Their field goal percent was down 2.1% to 46.2% and they shot 38.9% from beyond the arc, down 1% from the previous month. They lost only 1 game in December by only 2 points. So, while their stats were down, their losses also decreased. They allowed their opponents only 85 points per game. The offense may have been down slightly, but the defense picked up. They won their games in December by an average of 13.3 points per game, down from 18 the previous month.
In January, their scoring is down just .3 from the previous month. They allowed 3 more points per game at 88. They have won their games so far in January by an average of 10.5 points per game, down even more from 13.3 in December. They averaged 98.5 points per game so far in January and are allowing 88 points per game from their opponents. They lost 3 games by an average of 6.7 points per game.
It would appear that the Celtics have been wearing down. But a more likely explanation for the drop in statistics is the fact that teams are scouting the Celtics and are more prepared for them. Because teams are preparing more and learning from the other teams who have played them, they are able to play them much closer and hold them to fewer points. At the same time, the Celtics should be learning from their losses and preparing for other teams. There is an article in today's MetroWest Daily that discusses teams playing zone against the Celtics as a way to stop them.
When the Wizards used a zone defense to help hand the Celtics back-to-back losses last week, the league took notice. A national publication even went so far as to say that perhaps this was the model for teams to follow in trying to slow down the balanced and veteran offense. Maybe. Then again, like most other defensive schemes this season, the zone's success is probably more temporary than blueprint material.
Teams are bringing their A+ games against the Celtics this season. They may stop them for a game or two, but in the end, the Celtics are a veteran team and will bounce back. More from the MetroWest Article:
It worked for a while, but eventually the Celtics pushed the ball up the court via the pass rather than the dribble to greater success. With the Sixers also back to the traditional strategy of clamping down on Garnett whenever he touched the ball, the power forward expertly passed out of the crowds and found seldom-used Leon Powe for 10 points in the final 15 minutes as the Celtics opened the floor and blew away the Sixers in the fourth quarter. "It's just constantly making adjustments," Garnett reasoned. That process will continue the rest of the season. "When teams were starting the season off teams didn't know how to play us because we were new to the fold," said Ray Allen. "Every team adjusts. They have scouts and they have coaches dissecting film. Whenever we have lost games, they are watching that and trying to figure out where we are bad. Then they try to put us in those situations.
The Celtics stats have gone down in each month so far, but that is to be expected as teams scout them and as other teams gain their stride and play better against us. But as the Celtics also get stronger and learn from their losses, they will continue to win.