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Ball Don't Lie

Danny Ainge thinks the Celtics look old, and uses advanced stats

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie

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Danny Ainge searches for a salve (Getty Images)

Danny Ainge did not use the word "old." But Alex Speier of WEEI used the word "old," and asked the Boston Celtics GM if the Celtics have looked old nine games into their season. Ainge concluded that "that's a fair assessment, right now."

So, because I'm a blogger, I can say that the Celtics are old. Danny Ainge said so.

And, because I have half a brain and you have even more, here's the rest of Danny's spot-on, nuanced take:

"I think there's two things that sort of stand out. I'm not taking a nine-game sample. I'm looking at what has been our pattern, and what has been our weakness, over the last three years with this group of guys," said Ainge. "For three years now, we have been the worst offensive rebounding team in basketball. The second thing is, the execution of our offense, our offensive efficiency in the last five minutes of the game, I think those two things have got to be improved. I don't necessarily know why that hasn't happened. It's not just personnel, because we've had a lot of good offensive rebounders on this team."

Ainge then went on to point out something that fans and even those who cover teams on television or in print often miss out on. That raw stats, alone, can't tell the entire story. Stats can, but raw stats (like Denver's quick pace leading to 37 assists on Wednesday night, or Luol Deng's 15 rebounds in a Wednesday win in a contest with 125 missed shots and free throws), are to be looked at with a wary eye.

Here's Danny, discussing his team's continued rank at the bottom end of both offensive rebounds per game and offensive rebound percentage:

"It's not based on shooting percentage. When we talk about offensive rebounding, we're talking about offensive rebound percentage. If we shoot 40-for-80, there's 40 rebounding opportunities when we miss and we get eight of those, that's 20 percent. That's what we're playing at. It's not enough. We've got to get up to 25 percent, to the middle of the pack."

Because of Rajon Rondo's iffy scoring touch in the half-court, Kevin Garnett's wispy frame in the post, and the sheer amount of work it takes to free Ray Allen for a shot late in games, Paul Pierce has to become more of a threat towards the end of games. It's an odd thing to say for a player that may have been the NBA's top late-game option for years, even though Boston's lean times, but the C's continue to lose close contests even though they enter the fourth with a 2.7 points per game average (good for 12th in the NBA).

Throw in the team's inability to grab second chances, and you have a frustrating 4-5 team to behold. We think Danny was being rather tactful, though, and we're also sharing in his apparent belief that the Celtics still have enough to not only make an appearance in the Eastern Conference finals or Finals, but make some noise amongst the NBA's final four in June.

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