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Crushing The Numbers - Nov. 16, 2022

Chase Whitney /November 16, 2022

Want to know exactly how the Maine Celtics are getting it done on the court? Each week, Crushing the Numbers will take a deep dive into the G League stats to see what the numbers say about which areas the team has excelled in and what they’re looking to improve on in practice. 

The Maine Celtics are off to a 4-0 start, leaving them as the last remaining undefeated team in the NBA G League. None of the wins have come easily, but the Celtics have been able to lock in when it counts so far, collecting a pair of two-game sweeps against Westchester and Long Island. Here are the numbers that stick out the most from Maine’s hot start. 

UNIONDALE, NY - NOVEMBER 15: Marvin Smith #8 of the Maine Celtics boxes out against the Long Island Nets on November 15, 2022 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Evan Yu/NBAE via Getty Images)

Battle of the boards 

Maine leads the league in rebounding, averaging 57.0 rebounds per game over their first four games, but today we’re going to look at “rebounding percentage.”  

Rebounding percentage measures the percent of total missed shots that a team pulls down as either an offensive or defensive rebound, as opposed to the raw per-game total that can be pulled from the box score. Rebounding percentage serves as an equalizer among teams or players that have played an unequal number of games, which levels the playing field and reduces the impact of small sample sizes on a certain stat. 

The Celtics host the Capital City Go-Go for a back-to-back on Thursday and Friday this week, marking a matchup between two of the best rebounding teams in the league. Maine ranks second in offensive rebounding percentage -- meaning 39.9 percent of Maine’s own misses end with an offensive board -- with the help of imposing big men Mfiondu Kabengele and Luka Šamanić, who combine for 8.5 offensive rebounds per game. Maine ranks third in total rebounding percentage (56.0), behind only Santa Cruz and Capital City, while rebounds per game has them in the top spot at 57, nearly five more rebounds per game than second-place Santa Cruz. 

The Go-Go are first in defensive rebounding percentage (78.7) and total rebounding percentage (56.7); despite their prowess on the offensive boards, the Celtics rank just 17th in defensive rebounding percentage, showing that they tend to let up second-chance opportunities themselves, too. Maine’s dominance on the offensive glass and Capital City’s efficient defensive rebounding should make for an enticing battle on the interior. 

Turnover woes 
The good news? The Celtics boast the league’s 11th-best offense, ranking second in assist percentage (69.4) and first in assists per game (29.5). JD Davison and Kamar Baldwin are the lead guards while Marial Shayok and Denzel Valentine operate as secondary ball-handlers. Maine has a versatile offense featuring a multitude of players that can initiate offense in a pinch. 

Now comes the bad news. Through four games, the Celtics have amassed 93 total turnovers, good for the highest nightly average in the G League at 23.3 per game. Maine commits a turnover on 21.9 percent of their possessions, also the highest mark in the league, though Capital City isn’t far behind with an 18.5 turnover percentage that ranks 23rd.  

Delaware, Maine’s opponent on Sunday afternoon, is among the most ball-secure teams in the G League, sitting in third with a 13.9 turnover percentage. Head coach Alex Barlow wants to see his team play with pace and move the ball, but an essential part of that formula is taking care of it and making sure opponents aren’t gifted easy looks in transition on extra possessions. Once Maine cuts down on the turnovers, this high-octane offense could become even more potent. 

UNIONDALE, NY - NOVEMBER 15: Denzel Valentine #7 of the Maine Celtics shoots the ball against the Long Island Nets on November 15, 2022 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Evan Yu/NBAE via Getty Images)


Long-range gunning and lockdown defense have been key aspects to Maine’s early success. Though the Celtics are just 20th in three-point percentage (33.9), they rank second in attempts per game (42). The team doesn’t need to shoot with extreme efficiency if the three-point attempt volume is high enough to make up for the misses, which it has been so far with Kabengele, Davison, Shayok and Valentine all shooting north of 40 percent from downtown on at least three attempts per game. 

Maine ranks fourth in the league with a 104.0 defensive rating, bolstered by the strong interior presence provided by the bigs. The Celtics are holding opponents to a league-best 52.1 percent shooting at the rim (within five feet) and block 7.5 shots per game as a team, good for second in the G League. It’s difficult for opponents to match up with the sheer size that Kabengele, Šamanić and Reggie Kissoonlal II bring to the frontcourt rotation. 

Maine is amid an action-packed week. After the two-game road set with the Nets, the Celtics have a day off before a back-to-back at the Expo against Capital City, and then they’ll get one more off-day before a Sunday matinee with Delaware rounds out a stretch of five games in seven days.