At almost a quarter of the way through the season, one of the most glaring issues the Celtics have as a team so far, besides their defense, is rebounding. According to NBA.com, Boston (-4.17) only trails Dallas (-5) in rebound differential and is the worst in team rebounds per game at just under 38. Tonight we'll talk about what, if anything, the C's should do about it.
1. The Celtics just beat, and out-rebounded, the Timberwolves, one of the better rebounding teams in the league. Is the Celtics' problem with rebounding a personnel issue or effort?
Eric: The Celtics showed that they, for at least one game, can rebound with the best. That being said, this team, outside of KG, is simply not built to rebound well. Players like Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo will eventually make a difference on the boards, but rotation guys Brandon Bass and Chris Wilcox aren't tall enough to rip rebounds away from the plethora of seven-footers in the league. As the old saying goes: You can't teach size.
Michael D: It's a combination of personnel and style of play. First off, they only employ one true center at the moment, and it's Jason Collins. A guy who has yet to crack the rotation, and isn't exactly a rebounding machine. When you go small as much as they do, it will show on the glass. The other reason they consistently struggle on the boards, at least offensively, is that they very rarely crash the boards. Their mindset is to get back on defense as soon as possible. While it can be frustrating at times, that philosophy is a major reason they've been a top 5 defense for since 2007-08.
Terry P: Yes! Rebounding will always be an issue. We played a banged up Timberwolves squad at home with a worse record. If we out rebound a Memphis Grizzlies squad or a Chicago Bulls squad, then I will be impressed. We need to be consistent.
Jun: The Celtics do have a rebounding problem, but it is overblown. The Celtics terrible offensive rebounding will always drag the Celtics total rebounding down, but as long as the Celtics are a good defensive rebounding team they will be fine. They are currently 5th in the league in defensive rebounding %, at 74.3%. The key to this is the defense, and opposing penetration. As long as the wings can keep their opponents limited on their drives, the Celtics big men can stay in position and rebound better.
Matt M: I know the stats point that we are the worst of the worst in the NBA at rebounding, but according to the advanced stats we’re one of the best in the NBA! If you pull up the Celtics defensive rebound percentage (an estimate of the percentage of available defensive rebounds a player grabbed while he was on the floor) , the Green grab a whopping 74.3% which is 5th best overall only .8 behind #1. I know the Celtics don’t pass the eye test rebound wise, but maybe the regular stats are skewed by our lack of offensive rebounds?
2. The Celtics have an open roster spot. Should they pick up one of the names being floated around to address the rebounding problem, Erick Dampier, Kenyon Martin, etc., or wait for a player to be released by another team?
Eric: At this point in the season, if a guy doesn't have a team yet, there's a reason for it. I like Martin's skills, but he can be a headache if he does not get the playing time and touches he wants. As for waived players, picking up a good rebounder that a team did not want to play or pay to sit the Celtics bench couldn't hurt. Typically, those guys appreciate the change of scenery and hold the complaints until the end of the year. With Doc's typical short rotations, if the team did add someone, he wouldn't play much anyway.
Michael D: Sign K-mart. About a week ago I compared K-Mart to a girl at the bar that wants to go home with you, but you hold out hope that a better looking girl comes over at last call. It's just not realistic. Martin played 22 fairly effective minutes a game for the Clippers last season, and is still a good energy player off the bench. Any buyout candidate come February is going to consider the Knicks, Spurs, Heat and Thunder before the C's, so the best bet is to grab the talented guy who's sitting around right now. Plus the earlier we add someone, the earlier Doc can settle on a rotation he's comfortable with for the stretch run.
Terry P: Let's wait for buyout season. We need something more then any of the bigmen available.
Jun: The Celtics have said they are in no rush to fill that last roster spot, and I completely approve. No player out there right now will help much. Waiting for possible cuts at the midway point of the season, where the available players will probably be more talented is the smart move. The Celtics can win right now without that last spot filled, so they should fill it if they want, not because they feel they have to.
Matt M: I would love for them to grab another big man, particular Kenyon Martin. The dude can still ball; he plays good defense and rebound. I think the character issues are blown out of proportion; in our locker room I don’t see him being an issue. KG, Pierce and Rondo setting the tone in the locker room could be the start of the ‘Celtics Way’ to steal from the Patriots. I don’t want the player formally known as Erick Dampier; the dude is 37 years old and plays like he’s 50.
3. Should the Celtics trade for a front court player? Who? And can they pull off a trade given their financial constraints?
Eric: Trading for Anderson Varejao or Josh Smith sounds great, but it just doesn't seem possible. The guys who have value on the Celtics are Rondo, Green and Bradley. Nobody should ever doubt Danny Ainge's ability to make a trade fans would hate, *cough*Perkins*cough* but Cleveland and Atlanta are all set at point guard and Rondo still can't really shoot, which hurts his value for a team that could use a point guard if the Celtics shopped him around again. No team in their right mind would trade for that Green contract. Bradley and maybe Lee or Bass is not an enticing enough package to pull in anyone worthwhile because of Bradley's small sample size. The biggest obstacle to any deal is the Celtics are right up to the ceiling in terms of salary cap for this year and next so the financials of any deal would have to be nearly exact.
Michael D: Not right now. This team owes it to themselves to see what they look like with a healthy Bradley in the line-up. The team did not truly take off until he entered the rotation last year, and his presence on defense should help immensely. If the trade deadline approaches and the team is still sitting around .500, then yes, I'd take a hard look around. Josh Smith and Marcin Gortat are probably the names that will pop up the most, and both would require parting with Bradley (more than likely). That's not something I'm interested in at the moment, but come February, things could change.
Terry P: Demarcus Cousins. Been saying it all year! Come on trashy Kings, make a terrible deal like the Lakers get constantly for good players. The NBA wouldn't let us get David West last summer for basically Jermaine O'neal so this time, let us get Demarcus Cousins some how for Jeff Green's contract, it can be done!
Jun: The Celtics should always be looking to upgrade their frontcourt. But it is unlikely. The list of available big men who aren’t worth a king’s ransom is very small. The Celtics have little to offer other teams, beyond some combo-guards. I would say the Celtics pulling off a big trade for a frontcourt player this year is unlikely. In any case, the frontcourt player we trade for, if we do, should not be Josh Smith. Please Danny, don’t get this overrated guy unless you get him for scraps.
Matt M: I think they should wait and see, once Avery Bradley comes back he can help a lot in the back court. I know he isn’t a PG but he provides some stability to the line up. Maybe Danny can coax a veteran FA to come ala Sam Cassell from ‘08. What about an Earl Boykins type veteran PG? Could they convince Keyon to lace the sneakers back up? He would be the guy I want.
4. Is rebounding really an issue to address or can the Celtics win it all while giving up the glass?
Eric: Well Miami is a rebounding dud, too. So a team doesn't have to rebound to be a contender. I wouldn't worry so much about it if the defense would pick up the slack. No team has ever won a championship that can't rebound OR defend.
Michael D: It's an issue, but if the Celtics can pick things up on the defensive end (and over the last 3 games they have), that will mask a lot of it. Their defensive rebounding percentage is actually pretty good, and has been improving over the past few weeks. Sure it would be great to be a strong rebounding team, but that's never been this teams calling card. Play good defense, and efficient on offense, and get what they've been getting from Green/Lee recently on a more consistent basis, and this team will be right there with the Heat and Knicks come May.
Terry P: Like I said before, we won't be able to win unless we rebound, that simple.
Jun: As long as the Celtics keep up their good defensive rebounding, 5th in the league at 74.3%, they can win it all. The Celtics will never be a good offensive rebounding team but they can be a great defensive rebounding one. If they keep it up, it will really take pressure off of their defense to play multiple possessions in a row and keep the energy level up. The Celtics should always be looking to upgrade, but as long as the defensive rebounds are grabbed the team will be fine.
Matt M: If last year showed me anything, we can’t beat the Heat without solid rebounding. But as I posted earlier, are we REALLY that bad? I’m not sure, but lately Bass has seemed to pick up grabbing boards and same with Pierce. I think we’ll be alright in the long run, we’re still coming together as a team and once Avery is back we’ll be in better shape.
5. Doc Rivers' coaching philosophy has always been to abandon the offensive rebound in favor of getting back on defense. Should he forget that way of thinking and give the team a shot at second-chance points since the Celtics are giving up so many points anyway?
Eric: I've never been a fan of the "get back" approach. It kills me to see other teams get put-backs and dunks off missed shots and the Celtics are busy running back down the court after every shot. But I accepted it because the team's defense was so good. Now? There really is no excuse for it. What could the harm be to let guys like Wilcox and Sullinger, who have a natural sense for the offensive board, go and see what they can create? It's not like those guys are big shot blockers who need to get to the paint anyway. This team is not the defensive powerhouse it once was and Doc needs to adjust to that.
Michael D: Nope. This team has been playing the same way for six seasons, and I don't think now is the time to change. Getting back on defense is how this team has become dominant on that end, and once Bradley returns, I still think this is one of the better defensive teams in the league. While it may be more fun to root for a team like the T'Wolves that crash the offensive glass, that completely changes how the C's do business. Defense is their backbone, and part of it is high tailing it out of the offensive zone after a missed shot. It may not be sexy, but the results have (normally) been fantastic.
Terry P: Our defense hasn't really been that great either lately, so Doc needs to figure things out regardless.
Jun: The Celtics do not really have the personnel to grab a lot of offensive rebounds, regardless of what Doc tells them. The transition defense of the Celtics was ugly in the beginning of the season, but it has been getting better. I think the emphasis on defense is always correct, especially in this case. Remember, the Celtics don’t grab a lot of offensive rebounds because they can’t. Doc’s doctrine is only part of it.
Matt M: The Green are 9th in overall FG% and 7th in effective FG%, so as they say if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. It would be nice though to see some offensive rebounds, especially from Sullinger. Sully had a monster preseason on the offensive glass, I feel like every game he grabbed a couple offensive rebounds and got some put backs. Maybe with the second unit when KG is sitting crash and grab boards because the second units D is god awful, maybe that’ll help.
Feel free to share your answers to these questions below in the comments section.
Follow Terry P here Eric Blaisdell 12/07/2012 06:47:00 PM Tweet