Celtics Front Court Key In Playoff Push


The Boston Celtics were able to defeat the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday despite shooting just 6 of 27 (22.2%) from three point range. Evan Turner’s third triple double of the season took most of the post game headlines, but the play of the Celtics front court was what truly set the C’s apart from the Pacers.

The Celtics frontcourt of Kelly Olynyk (and his black eye), Brandon Bass, Tyler Zeller, Jonas Jerebko, and Jae Crowder combined to outscore the Pacers frontcourt 65 to 33. The Celtics overcame their below average three point shooting with their aforementioned bigs shooting 22 of 28 on two point shots. The domination comes to some as a surprise, as entering last night the Pacers were holding opponents to 46.8% shooting on 2 pointers, good enough for 6th in the NBA.

Despite his success, Tyler Zeller has been flying under the radar for the Celtics. His 54.5% field goal percentage ranks 6th in the NBA. Zeller also leads the Celtics in win shares at 5.8 this season despite only playing 21.1 minutes per game, a stat that measures the amount of wins a player contributes to a team’s success. The Celtics four main bigs of Zeller, Olynyk, Bass, and Jerebko have been splitting time very evenly this season, with all getting between 18 and 24 minutes per game. Zeller’s success may be deserving of more time, but currently Bass and Olynyk rank second and third on the team in win shares, so his minutes increase would have to come at the expense of other effective players.

Nov 6, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics power forward Brandon Bass (30) reacts with power forward Kelly Olynyk (41) after a play against the Utah Jazz in the second half at TD Garden. The Celtics defeated the Jazz 97-87. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

With just seven games remaining in the regular season, it goes without saying that each of those games are of great importance in the Celtic’s pursuit of the 8 seed. The Celtics should rely heavily on their bigs as they did in their win over Indiana. With 5 of their remaining 7 games against Toronto, Cleveland, and, Detroit who rank 28th, 25th, and 22nd respectively in opponents 2pt field goal percentage, the Celtics have opportunities to capitalize on both their own team strengths and opponents weaknesses.

Though they do not grab the headlines as much as say a Evan Turner triple double or a big scoring outburst from Avery Bradley, the play of the Celtics front court has been instrumental in their success this season. The combination of Zeller, Bass, and Olynyk has been well worth their individual low salaries and proving to be a large part of the present and likely any future successes.

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