- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Boston Celtics have displayed an indifference to offensive rebounding in recent seasons, but there's a perception that the team is also struggling on the defensive glass. The numbers suggest that simply isn't as big of a deal as some make it out to be.
If you go strictly by raw numbers, the Celtics have been outrebounded by opponents 504-430 through 12 games, a difference of 6.2 rebounds per game. But keep in mind that Boston's shunning of the offensive glass is a big reason for the differential.
In fact, if you zoom in on defensive rebound percentage, the Celtics are more than holding their own. Boston ranks 11th in the NBA with a 74.2 defensive rebound percentage (which is two points better than last year's number and on par with the rate of the 2007-08 championship team). In fact, the Celtics are about a half percentage point away from being one of the top 5 defensive rebounding teams in the league.
Boston's offensive rebound percentage skews its overall rebounding percentage, dipping the team into the lower third of the league in total rebound percentage for the last four seasons. Let's take a closer look:
On the rebound?
A look at Boston’s rebound percentages during the Big Three era with league rank in parentheses:
Make no mistake, the Celtics have room to grow on the glass. Offensive rebounds have hurt this team in spurts and Boston simply isn't good enough defensively at the moment to allow second-chance opportunities.
It's games like Wednesday's loss to San Antonio that the rebound numbers seem glaring. Consider that Paul Pierce and Jeff Green combined for zero rebounds in 51 minutes of court time. Heck, take away Brandon Bass and Boston's four other starters combined for a mere six rebounds over 138 minutes of floor time. That is somewhat unacceptable. Now, the Spurs shot 58.4 percent and there were only 36 available defensive rebounds (of which the Spurs got six on their own). Better defense will aid the Celtics in being a better defensive team.
While Rivers adamantly said that offensive rebounding is the least of Boston's problems, the Celtics acknowledge the importance of being better on the defensive glass.
"I have to do a better job on the rebounds," admitted Pierce. "I got no rebounds today. I have to have a better effort in that department."
Garnett stressed that Boston bigs can tighten up their defensive rebounding by avoiding getting caught out of position. That starts with the guard position where dribble penetration is forcing help and leaving opponents free to crash the glass without a body on them, leading to easy putbacks. The Spurs generated a whopping 19 second-chance points on seven total offensive caroms on Wednesday.