Let’s face it.
The second quarter has been a major problem for the Celtics this season.
And then there’s Friday night in a 110-98 victory in Detroit, where the Celtics outscored the Pistons 38-21 in the second to take control of the game.
The 38 points tied a season-high for second-quarter scoring and the +17 scoring margin in the quarter was their best in a second quarter this season.
Boston’s point differential for the season speaks to how, while the Celtics don’t score a ton of points, their defense allows them to have a bit of a scoring cushion most nights.
For the season, Boston’s point differential of +3.7 ranks fourth in the league behind Houston (+8.9), Toronto (+8.3) and Golden State (+8.1).
Still, if you hone in on what the Celtics do in the second quarter...it’s not pretty.
Their scoring differential this season in the second quarter is -1.1, which ranks in the bottom 10 in the NBA (24th specifically).
Here are five under-the-radar storylines you might not be thinking about heading into tonight’s game between the Celtics and Knicks as they close out their regular-season series (Boston leads, 2-1):
With the victory in Detroit, the Celtics won their 20th road game of the season. The victory puts them in select company in the NBA. Only Golden State (22-7) and Houston (21-7) have more road wins or a better road record than the Celtics (20-8).
Seeing Aron Baynes head to the bench and soon after towards the locker room with an elbow injury was not a good look. Following the win at Detroit, Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Baynes had not been ruled out from playing tonight. Boston has been atop the NBA most of this season defensively and the play of Baynes has been critical to that success. Prior to the Pistons game, Boston’s defensive rating when Baynes was on the floor was 96.4. When he was not playing, it ballooned to 103.5.
You always have to be on guard when Beasley’s in the building. While his season numbers may suggest he’s a role player coming off the bench who can maybe score a little, don’t be fooled. Beasley is a cold-blooded scoring assassin who can kill a defense with his wide array of scoring techniques. The Celtics saw this up close earlier this season when Beasley dropped a season-high 32 points the Knicks' 102-93 victory over Boston on Dec. 21.
Boston can’t wait to flip the calendar and get on to March, because February has been brutal for the defense. In the four previous months this season, Boston’s defensive rating always ranked among the top-10 each month. But in February, Boston’s defensive rating of 108.6 currently ranks 16th in the NBA. There’s still time to improve upon that before the month is over, but February is likely to go down as Boston’s worst month defensively this season.
When it comes to history, Boston and New York share more than just being among the original teams when the NBA formed in 1946 (In 1946, the NBA had a different name, the Basketball Association of America. Following its third season, the BAA would merge with the National Basketball League to form what is now known as the NBA). They are also the only teams from the league’s inception that did not disband for a period of time, or move to another city.