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Thursday, April 25, 2013
Numbers tell story of second-half woes

By Ernest Tolden, ESPN Stats & Information

The Celtics enter Game 3 against the Knicks looking for answers, primarily on the offensive end.

In the first two games of the series, the Celtics have scored a total of just 149 points. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it’s the Celtics’ second-fewest points scored over a two-game span in a single postseason in franchise history. They scored just 146 points over the last two games against the Lakers in the 2010 NBA Finals, both resulting in losses.

The Celtics’ offensive deficiencies this series have been due to their inability to score in the half court. During the regular season, Boston ranked eighth in the NBA in half-court efficiency, averaging 0.91 points per play. In two games this series, the Celtics average just 0.75 points per play and are shooting just 36.5 percent in the half court.

The Celtics, however, haven’t struggled to score over the full 48 minutes.

In fact, they’ve looked good in the first half, taking leads into halftime in both games. Boston has shot over 54 percent from the field and outscored the Knicks by 10 points in the first half this series.

It’s the second half that’s been the problem.

The Celtics have scored 48 combined points in the second half in the two games this series and have posted a dreadful half-court scoring rate of 0.49 points per play. The Celtics set a franchise record low with 25 points in the second half in Game 1. That record stood for just three days, as they scored just 23 points in the second half in Game 2.

The Celtics, in fact, are the first team in the shot-clock era (starting with the 1954–55 season) to score 25 or fewer second-half points in consecutive games, in the regular season or postseason, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Boston is shooting just 22.2 percent from the field in the second half this series, by far the lowest percentage by any team in any half this postseason. The next-lowest shooting percentage is by the Rockets, who’ve shot 34.8 percent in the second half in their series against the Thunder.

The Celtics have struggled to make shots from all areas of the court, including near the basket. The Celtics have made just six of their 17 field goal attempts from inside the restricted area and have made just four of their 12 layup attempts in the second half this series.

History isn’t on the Celtics’ side after dropping the first two games. In the 10 times in franchise history they’ve trailed a best-of-seven series 2-0, the Celtics went on to lose the series nine times. Their only best-of-seven series comeback after dropping the first two games came in the 1969 NBA Finals, when they defeated the Lakers in seven games.

There is some history on the Celtics’ side going into Game 3. The Celtics are 23-10 all-time at home against the Knicks in the postseason, winning 11 of their last 12 meetings in Boston.

However, the most important number for the Celtics is zero. No team in NBA history has ever come back from a 3-0 series deficit in the postseason.