Everyone new that the new Boston Celtics were going to be a good team. But I think a lot of people — myself included — have been surprised by just how good they’ve been. Certainly, I wasn’t envisioning this level of defensive domination. One person who’s not surprised, though, is schtevie at the APBRmetrics forum who noted on August 3 that if you believe in the adjusted +/- stat that it predicted “that the Celtics will outscore their opponents by between 10 and 13 points per 100 possessions, which would put them in the same league as the greatest Bulls team, which had the highest margin of all time (around 12, if I recall correctly).” He also noted that the estimate might be biased downward because “there is no reason to believe that the Celtics will fill out its roster with replacement level players as there will be an incentive for decent veterans, looking for a ring, to come along for the ride. Also, it was assumed that the current remaining youngsters only had replacement value, and I suspect (at least in the case of Rajon Rondo’s) that this isn’t the case.”
And, well, it’s all true. Their efficiency differential is a ridiculous 16 points per hundred possessions. Boston opponents should consider themselves lucky that the Celtics only play 93.6 possessions per game, thus keeping their margin of victory to only 13.8.
I assume the greater accuracy of the adjusted +/- relative to other ways of looking at the situation has something to do with the fact that it can, in principle, do a much better job of capturing the defensive half of the game, which is really where Boston has distinguished itself.