2020 Playoffs | East Semifinals: (2) Raptors vs. (3) Celtics

Numbers preview: Toronto Raptors (2) vs. Boston Celtics (3)

John Schuhmann

John Schuhmann

Having disposed of two other Atlantic Division teams in a pair sweeps, the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics are ready to face each other in the postseason for the first time ever.

The defending champion Raptors improved upon last year’s regular-season record by turning things up defensively. The Celtics were the only East team that ranked in the top five on both ends of the floor, and they took the season series from the champs.

It’s remarkable that these two teams, second and third in Eastern Conference playoff wins over the last six years, have never met in the postseason. But this series should be worth the wait.

> Series hub | John Schuhmann’s series preview

Here are some statistical notes to get you ready for the Eastern Conference semifinals, with links to let you dive in and explore more. Game 1 is Sunday (1 ET; ESPN).

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes

OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions

DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions

NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

All stats are through Tuesday, Aug. 25.

Toronto Raptors (53-19, 4-0)

First round: Beat Brooklyn in four games.

Pace: 103.0 (5)

OffRtg: 122.9 (3)

DefRtg: 102.4 (2)

NetRtg: +20.4 (1)

Regular season: Team stats | Advanced splits | Player stats | Player shooting | Lineups

vs. Boston: Team stats | Advanced splits | Player stats | Player shooting | Lineups

Playoffs: Team stats | Advanced splits | Player stats | Player shooting | Lineups

Raptors postseason notes – General:

  1. Have reached the conference semifinals for the fifth straight year, the league’s longest active streak.
  2. Point differential of 20.5 points per game in the first round was the third-highest in any series of the last 10 years.
  3. Both the best first-quarter team (+27.8 points per 100 possessions) and the best fourth-quarter team (+35.6) of the first round.
Raptors postseason shot profile
Area FGM FGA FG% Rank %FGA Rank
Restricted area 73 112 65.2% 8 31% 4
Other paint 16 50 32.0% 13 14% 10
Mid-range 20 38 52.6% 1 10% 14
Corner 3 17 33 51.5% 1 9% 9
Above-break 3 53 129 41.1% 4 35% 3
%FGA = Percentage of total shots

Raptors postseason notes – Offense:

  1. Saw the second-biggest jump in offensive efficiency from the regular season (110.8 points per 100 possessions, 13th) to the first round (122.9, third). The Nets saw the second biggest jump in points allowed per 100 possessions from the regular season (109.2, 10th) to the first round.
  2. Assist-turnover ratio of 2.54 is the highest in the first round by a wide margin. Ranked second in assist percentage in the first round, recording assists on 67.8% of their field goals.
  3. Led both the regular season (18.8) and the first round (18.5) in fast break points per game.
  4. Rank second in ball movement in the playoffs, having averaged 332 passes per 24 minutes of possession, according to Second Spectrum tracking.
Raptors offensive four factors
Season type eFG% Rank OREB% Rank TO% Rank FTA Rate Rank
Reg. season 53.6% 8 25.6% 24 14.6% 17 0.264 13
Playoffs 59.2% 2 23.6% 10 11.7% 4 0.258 11
eFG% = (FGM + (0.5 * 3PM)) / FGA

OREB% = Percentage of available offensive rebounds obtained.

TO% = Turnovers per 100 possessions.

FTA Rate = FTA/FGA

Raptors postseason notes – Defense:

  1. The Nets saw the biggest drop in the percentage of their shots that came from the restricted area from the regular season (36.0%, 3rd) to the first round (19.5%, 15th).
  2. Brooklyn passed on 50.7% of their drives, the highest rate in the playoffs. (Boston passed on 32.6% of their drives, the third-lowest rate, against Philadelphia.)
  3. The 92 points on 102 possessions the Nets scored in Game 3 was the least efficient game for any team in these playoffs so far.
  4. Have played 24 possessions of zone, most in the playoffs, according to Synergy play-type tracking.
Raptors defensive four factors
Season type eFG% Rank OREB% Rank TO% Rank FTA Rate Rank
Reg. season 50.2% 2 27.9% 22 16.5% 2 0.263 15
Playoffs 48.2% 3 26.4% 9 14.0% 8 0.268 7

Raptors postseason notes – Lineups:

  1. Starting lineup has played 61 total minutes, second-most in the postseason through Tuesday. It allowed Brooklyn to score 114.8 points per 100 possessions, while all other Toronto lineups allowed just 96.8 per 100.
  2. The Raptors outscored Brooklyn by 30.2 points per 100 possessions with Serge Ibaka on the floor. That was the best on-court NetRtg mark among players who’ve averaged at least 20 minutes in three first round games or more. Norman Powell has the second-best mark (+29.7).
  3. With Kyle Lowry on the floor, the Nets had a free throw rate of just 17.9 attempts per 100 shots from the field and a turnover rate of 17.2 per 100 possessions. With Lowry off the floor, the Nets had a free throw rate of 40.8 attempts per 100 shots from the field and a turnover rate of just 8.6 per 100 possessions.

Raptors postseason notes – Individuals:

  1. Marc Gasol has recorded assists on 30.4% of his possessions, the highest rate among centers who’ve averaged at least 15 minutes per game.
  2. Serge Ibaka grabbed 12.1% of available offensive rebounds while he was on the floor. That’s the highest offensive rebounding percentage among players who’ve averaged at least 20 minutes in three first round games or more.
  3. Kyle Lowry leads the playoffs with 0.75 charges drawn per game.
  4. Norman Powell had an effective field goal percentage of 72.1% in the first round, the second-best mark among 70 players with 35 field goal attempts. Ibaka has the third-best mark (71.4%).
  5. Pascal Siakam has a true shooting percentage of 50.3%, down from 55.4% in the regular season and the fifth-lowest mark among 24 players with a usage rate of 25% or higher.
  6. Opponents have shot 12-for-41 (29.3%) on shots Siakam has defended. That’s the lowest opponent mark among players who’ve defended at least 35 shots in the playoffs.
  7. Fred VanVleet had an effective field goal percentage of 70.0% in the first round, the best mark among 40 players with 50 field goal attempts and up from 50.7% in the regular season. That’s the biggest jump among 61 players with at least 250 field goal attempts in the regular season and at least 40 field goal attempts in the playoffs.
  8. VanVleet has taken 61.8% of his shots, the fifth-highest rate among 64 players with at least 40 postseason field goal attempts, from 3-point range.

Boston Celtics (48-24, 4-0)

First round: Beat Philadelphia in four games.

Pace: 95.8 (13)

OffRtg: 117.2 (5)

DefRtg: 105.0 (5)

NetRtg: +12.3 (2)

Regular season: Team stats | Advanced splits | Player stats | Player shooting | Lineups

vs. Toronto: Team stats | Advanced splits | Player stats | Player shooting | Lineups

Playoffs: Team stats | Advanced splits | Player stats | Player shooting | Lineups

Celtics postseason notes – General:

  1. Have reached the conference semifinals for the fourth straight year, the league’s second-longest active streak (which Houston can tie by advancing this year).
  2. Were outscored by the Sixers by 10 points (having allowed 118.6 points per 100 possessions) in the first quarter, and were a plus-57 (allowing 100.3 per 100) in Quarters 2-4.
  3. Three of their first-round wins were within five points in the last five minutes.
Celtics postseason shot profile
Area FGM FGA FG% Rank %FGA Rank
Restricted area 57 86 66.3% 5 25% 12
Other paint 21 54 38.9% 11 16% 7
Mid-range 29 65 44.6% 6 19% 5
Corner 3 6 18 33.3% 12 5% 15
Above-break 3 43 122 35.2% 11 35% 4

Celtics postseason notes – Offense:

  1. One of four teams that recorded assists on less than half of their field goals in the first round. Rank last in ball movement in the playoffs (269 passes per 24 minutes of possession), having seen the biggest drop from the regular season (326, 17th), according to Second Spectrum tracking.
  2. Tied (with the Sixers) for fewest corner 3s per game (1.5) in the first round.
  3. Ranked second in fast break points per game (16.8) in the first round.
  4. Only team with three players averaging at least 20 points per game.
Celtics offensive four factors
Season type eFG% Rank OREB% Rank TO% Rank FTA Rate Rank
Reg. season 53.1% 17 28.3% 5 13.7% 8 0.259 18
Playoffs 52.3% 12 27.5% 6 11.0% 2 0.313 6

Celtics postseason notes – Defense:

  1. The Sixers ranked last in the first round in both the percentage of their shots that came in the first six seconds of the shot clock (8%) and their effective field goal percentage in the first six seconds of the shot clock (33.3%), according to Second Spectrum tracking.
  2. The Sixers took just 60% of their shots from the restricted area or 3-point range, the lowest rate in the first round. Philly also saw the biggest drop in 3-point percentage from the regular season (36.8%, 9th) to the first round (26.4%, last).
  3. Boston’s 13.5 deflections per game are tied for the most in the playoffs.
  4. Have played 17 possessions of zone, tied for fourth-most in the playoffs, according to Synergy play-type tracking.
Celtics defensive four factors
Season type eFG% Rank OREB% Rank TO% Rank FTA Rate Rank
Reg. season 50.9% 4 26.9% 16 15.1% 8 0.281 24
Playoffs 44.4% 1 31.6% 15 12.5% 10 0.381 16

Celtics postseason notes – Lineups:

  1. Current starting lineup – Walker, Smart, Brown, Tatum and Theis – was outscored by one point in its 43 minutes in the first round.
  2. The Celtics were 27.9 points per 100 possessions better with Tatum on the floor (+19.0) than they were with him off the floor (-8.9) in the first round, with big differentials on both ends of the floor.
  3. Brad Wanamaker and Enes Kanter played 69 and 61 minutes off the bench, respectively. But they played just 28 minutes together. The Celtics were a plus-21 in those 28 minutes.

Celtics postseason notes – Individuals:

  1. Jaylen Brown (5.0) and Kemba Walker (4.5) ranked second and fourth in fast break points per game in the playoffs. Brown had more fast break points (20) than the Sixers (19).
  2. Marcus Smart‘s 3.3 deflections per game are tied for most in the playoffs.
  3. Jayson Tatum has a turnover rate of just 3.0 per 100 possessions used, the lowest rate among 24 players with a usage rate of 25% or higher in the playoffs. His assist rate (9.9 per 100 possessions used) is the third-lowest among that group.
  4. Tatum ranks third in the playoffs with 2.3 blocks per game.
  5. Daniel Theis has averaged 8.8 screen assists per 36 minutes, second most among 107 players who’ve played at least 75 total minutes in the playoffs.
  6. Walker has averaged 11.0 pick-and-roll ball-handler possessions, tied for third-most in the playoffs, according to Synergy play-type tracking. The 1.16 points per possession he’s scored as a pick-and-roll ball-handler ranks seventh among 25 players who’ve averaged at least five ball-handler possessions per game.
  7. Walker’s 6.3 mid-range attempts per game rank second in the playoffs. The 56.0% he’s shot from mid-range ranks third among 18 players with at least 15 total mid-range attempts.

Regular-season matchup

Boston won, 3-1 (1-0 in the restart)

Oct. 25 @ Boston | Celtics 112, Raptors 106

Dec. 25 @ Toronto | Celtics 118, Raptors 102

Dec. 28 @ Boston | Raptors 113, Celtics 97

Aug. 7 – Restart | Celtics 100, Raptors 78

Pace: 102.1 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes

Toronto OffRtg: 102.9 (23rd vs. Boston)

Boston OffRtg: 110.0 (6th vs. Toronto)

Individual matchups: TOR offense vs. BOS defense | BOS offense vs. TOR defense

Total points scored, season series
Area TOR BOS Diff.
Restricted area 142 158 -16
Other paint 54 44 10
Total in paint 196 202 -6
Mid-range 18 30 -12
3-point range 150 150 0
Total outside paint 168 180 -12
Free throws 57 67 -10
Fast break points 47 63 -16
2nd chance points 37 63 -26

Matchup notes:

  1. The Celtics were the only team to beat the Raptors three times this season.
  2. Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol and Norman Powell all missed both December meetings for the Raptors. Marcus Smart missed the Christmas Day game for the Celtics. (Gordon Hayward played in all four.)
  3. The Celtics had the lowest turnover rate (14.5 per 100 possessions) among Toronto’s Eastern Conference opponents. The Raptors’ own turnover rate (19.6 per 100 possessions) was their highest against any East opponent.
  4. The 11.8 fast break points the Raptors averaged was their fourth-lowest output against any opponent. The four games account for four of the 19 times the Raptors were held to fewer than 14 fast break points.
  5. The Dec. 28 game was the only game in Boston in which the Celtics scored less than a point per possession (97 on 99).
  6. Jayson Tatum was a plus-67 in the season series. That was the best total plus-minus (by almost double) against the Raptors this season. Kemba Walker (plus-32) and Gordon Hayward (plus-31) had the fourth- and fifth-best marks.
  7. Serge Ibaka was a minus-46. That was the fourth-worst mark against the Celtics this season.
  8. Kyle Lowry had an effective field goal percentage of 64.8%, his best mark vs. any Eastern Conference opponent.
  9. Jaylen Brown had an effective field goal percentage of 66.1%, the eighth-best mark among 92 players with at least 25 field goal attempts against the Raptors this season. Marcus Smart had the ninth-worst mark (30.4%).
  10. The most common matchup in the season series was Walker and Fred VanVleet. No player (for any team) defended Walker more than VanVleet (25:32) and no player defended VanVleet more than Walker (20:37) this season. Walker (8-for-25) shot better than VanVleet (5-for-24) when they were matched up and the Celtics outscored the Raptors by 7.7 points per 100 possessions when both were on the floor.
  11. Only Ben Simmons defended Tatum more than Lowry (17:04) this season. Tatum, who was the player that defended Lowry most this season, shot 7-for-11 with Lowry guarding him and 16-for-50 (32%) otherwise.

John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting

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