The NBA’s New Stats Vault Is Awesome

Celtics fans (and data junkies) will love to dive into years and years of team history.

Christopher Penler /

Late last week, hardcore NBA junkies received a dream gift: The league made its vast statistical database available to the public, the New York Times first reported. And it’s free. is as vast as Baseball Reference, and even more slickly packaged. It may not seem like a big deal, but as Buzzfeed’s Erik Malinowski recently pointed out, “the NBA is under no obligations to release any of this data to fans. Furthermore, it could charge a nominal fee—say, $10 a season—and thousands would pay such a price with no hesitation. But the league is betting that they’ll be better off in the long run by making it free and available to those who aren’t already diehards.”

Since the NBA debuted its statistical vault, I’ve already fallen down the rabbit hole a few times. It’s easy to lose an hour—or five—sifting through the database. On Monday night, I dug in to some old box scores. (Every single box score in NBA history is available.) So, apropos of nothing, here are four Celtics wins from the ’90s worth revisiting:

May 5, 1991
Celtics 124, Pacers 121

An underrated Larry Bird performance. Late in the first half—this was the deciding Game 5 of the first round of the playoffs—he slammed his head on the parquet at the Garden. Despite missing some of the second and third quarters, he still managed to score 32 points—on 12-of-19 shooting. (Presumably while woozy.)

March 15, 1992
Celtics 152, Trail Blazers 148 (Double OT)

Bird’s last truly great game. He finished with 49 points, 14 rebounds, and 12 assists. It’s still insane to me that in his condition—his back had nearly rendered him stationary—he was able to play 54 minutes.

April 30, 1995
Celtics 99, Magic 92

This might’ve been Boston’s unlikeliest win of the decade, and I don’t remember a second of it. It was Game 2 of the first round of the playoffs. The eighth-seeded Celtics—who were led by immortals Dino Radja and Sherman Douglas and 35-year-old Dominique Wilkins—ended up losing to the top-seeded Magic—who had Shaquille O’Neal and Anfernee Hardaway—in four games. Somehow, Boston squeaked this one out. ’Nique probably had his best game in a Celtics uniform, scoring 24 points.

October 31, 1997
Celtics 92, Bulls 85

Boston opened the Rick Pitino era in style, beating Michael Jordan and the Bulls at the Fleet Center. Sadly, it was also the peak of the Pitino era in Boston. Michael Jordan scored 30 points, but the night belonged to Antoine Walker, who dropped 31 on Chicago and also introduced America to the Walker Wiggle. (Comcast’s Rich Levine reminded me the other day that Scottie Pippen actually didn’t play in this game.)