Here are a few more statistical notes that merit our attention as tipoff of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Orlando Magic and the Boston Celtics draws nearer:
Via MagicBasketball.net, Dwight Howard is the difference for Orlando. The Magic went +27 with him on the court in the season series, and -22 with him off it. Check out the Celtics' field-goal percentage splits with him playing versus him on the bench.
John Schuhmann of NBA.com posted 10 numbers-centric facts here, and they're all worth noticing. But this bit really stood out to me:
In the regular season, the third quarter was the Celtics' worst (-0.8), especially defensively (allowing 106.1 points per 100 possessions). And the Magic outscored them by an average of 8.0 points in the third in their four regular season meetings. But in the postseason, the third quarter has been the Celtics' best, outscoring their opponents by an average of 3.8 points in their 11 games thus far.
The difference has been the offense. The Celtics are shooting 53 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range in the third quarter thus far in the postseason.
Orlando's biggest edge in the season series came in the third quarter, as Schuhmann mentions and as I pointed out in my preview. If Boston's corrected its third-quarter problems, this series will be even closer than I anticipated.
But shooting isn't the only facet in which the Celtics have improved. One of the league's most turnover-prone teams in the regular season, Zach Lowe of CelticsHub points out in this q-and-a with Eddy that Boston has improved to turning the ball over at about a league-average rate.
Remember, Celtics have missed more layups than they've made vs. Dwight Howard and the Magic this season.