The Boston Celtics set a franchise record for fewest points allowed during Sunday's win over the Milwaukee Bucks. Posted by Ben Golliver.
On Sunday, the Boston Celtics snapped a two-game losing streak by defeating the Milwaukee Bucks, 87-56. Yes, you read that correctly, the Bucks managed just 56 points over the 48 minute period, a number that set a franchise record for the Celtics for points allowed during the shot clock era.
This one was u-g-l-y from start to finish. In the process, the Celtics also set franchise records by allowing just 22 points in the first half and 38 points through three quarters. According to Basketball-Reference.com, the Bucks set an NBA record-low for points in a game, surpassing the Cleveland Cavaliers, who scored just 57 points against the Los Angeles Lakers. All this while the Celtics rested their starters for much of the second half.
Should we have seen this one coming? No, you can never really predict once-in-a-generation ineptitude. But the result didn't come completely out of left field, as Sunday's game was a match-up of the second most efficient defense (Boston) against the league's least efficient offense (Milwaukee). That the game was the second of a back-to-back for Milwaukee and a home game for Boston, who had a day off to prepare, set the table perfectly.
The Bucks are no offensive juggernaut, ranking dead last in points per game (91.7) and assists per game (18.5), but 56 points is so out of the norm for any NBA team that it's worth a chart to help illustrate how ususual this result is. The following chart shows the number of points the Bucks have registered as a team in each game this year. Running from left to right you progress through the season. On the far right, you can see the giant cliff Sunday's result represents.
What's truly remarkable about the 56 points is that it comes on the heels of back-to-back games in which Milwaukee scored 110 points against the Cleveland Cavaliers and 102 points against the Philadelphia 76ers. By comparison, the Bucks scored 59 points in the first half on Saturday against the 76ers. Similarly, the Bucks scored more in the first quarter against the 76ers (26) than they did in the first half against the Celtics (22).
How did the Bucks get there? Well, that got beaten in essentially every category.
Most notably, and most obviously, they shot poorly. The Bucks made just 22 field goals as a team, the second-lowest total in the NBA this season. The only team that was worse was the Orlando Magic, who made just 21 field goals in an early season loss to the Miami Heat.
The Bucks also struggled to control the ball, committing 17 turnovers. Despite all the misses, they secured just six offensive rebounds, limiting their opportunity for second chance points. They shot abysmally from deep -- just 3-14 -- and had just one player, deep reserve center Earl Barron, in double figures.
In other words, the Bucks were not able to establish a go-to scoring option, they couldn't stretch the floor from deep, they couldn't make a shot, they couldn't grab many of their misses and they couldn't hang on to the ball. They did all of that while playing against one of the league's premier defenses in their house.
That's a recipe for disaster, and disaster is exactly what happened.
With the win, Boston improved to 47-17 on the season, the top record in the Eastern Conference. With the loss, Milwaukee fell to 26-39, which is, remarkably, just 1.5 games out of the No. 8 seed.
In other words, if Milwaukee makes a little push we could be in store for one of the most lopsided first round playoff series in NBA history.