Celtics starting to do a better job on the boards

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Celtics starting to do a better job on the boards

Post by bobheckler on Wed Mar 22, 2017 1:50 pm


Celtics starting to do a better job on the boards

By Scott Souza, @Scott_Souza

BOSTON — Amid all the variables that can happen during the course of an NBA game, the Celtics had one virtual constant in their corner that was practically a fail safe when predicting victory most of the season.

Boston has had a winning percentage that has hovered at 90 percent or above all year when it has outrebounded its opponent.

The problem — at least until recently — was that it hardly ever happened.

The Celtics could count on two hands how often the statistic came into play during the first half of the year. But more and more in recent weeks, they've been able to rely on the indicator — including in a big way Monday night when they outrebounded the Washington Wizards, 54-39, on their way to a 110-102 triumph.

"Our focus level is much higher on it," said forward Jae Crowder, who was one of four Celtics to grab at least nine rebounds on Monday. "Guys are looking in the mirror, and not looking to the next guy, just trying to take care of it, and do as much as possible that they can to help our team. I just think our focus level has been what it needs to be on that."

Crowder is one of the players who has taken it upon himself to up his board game in recent weeks. He is averaging 5.8 rebounds per game on the season, but has pulled down an average of 8.1 over the past 15. Al Horford has seen an uptick as well with 7.4 rebounds per game over his last 11 games compared with 6.7 for the season.

On Monday, Kelly Olynyk led the way with 11 rebounds — seven offensive — in less than 18 minutes off the bench.

"It was great," Horford said. "Kelly was getting in there a lot. What changed for us early was when Tyler (Zeller) got into the game, and he was just very aggressive. He got a few offensive rebounds. He just kind of set the tone at that point. Then it just kept happening."

Boston wound up with 20 offensive rebounds — its biggest total in a regular-season game in nine years — as the Celtics improved to 21-2 on the season when outrebounding opponents.

"(Olynyk) was good on both ends," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "Defensively, I thought he did a good job blocking out and pursuing the ball. Offensively, I thought he was quick to the ball and was able to rebound over some of the smaller lineups.

"We need Kelly to rebound. We need Al to rebound. We need Tyler, and Jonas (Jerebko), and Amir (Johnson), we need those guys to rebound for us. Then we need our guards to clear up any of the long ones, or any of the ones where our big guys engage.

"We've gotten better rebounding over the course of the year. The first seven games we were in such a hole we weren't going to be able to dig out of that even with 75 left."

The coach's one lament even after the Washington game was that the Celtics didn't make the most of all the extra possessions they got with all the offensive rebounds. Boston was up 20 early in the third quarter, and 17 heading to the fourth, only to watch the Wizards close within six with less than two minutes to play, when Isaiah Thomas was pickpocketed in the backcourt.

"We had moments where we were just too casual," Stevens said. "If we want to maximize ourselves, we can't play that way. We just talked about it in the locker room. Our guys know what they want and that they need to play at a really good level to have a chance (to earn it) here in the next few weeks."

The Celtics head into Wednesday's game against the Indiana Pacers — their second of a six-game homestand — two games behind the Cleveland Cavaliers for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, and 2½ games clear of third-place Washington with 11 games left in the regular season.

"We're still trying to figure it out," Crowder said. "We have (less than) a dozen games to figure it out. For some reason, we build a lead, and teams start to get more aggressive, and we start to get more relaxed.

"But we've got to figure it out because we can't let that roll into the playoffs."



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Re: Celtics starting to do a better job on the boards

Post by dboss on Wed Mar 22, 2017 2:16 pm

I think the improvement is about awareness. It is about finishing off a play.

The Celtics do not have any dominant rebounders but a group of guards who are above average rebounders like Bradley, Smart and even Terry Rozier.


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Re: Celtics starting to do a better job on the boards

Post by wideclyde on Wed Mar 22, 2017 3:28 pm


I believe that rebounding is more about attitude than awareness. All good rebounders and rebounding teams have a 'junk yard dog" attitude towards rebounding, and the Cs have not really had this attitude towards rebounding for several years now.

Paul Silas was a great rebounder, stood only 6'6 and really had no real hops either to demonstrate that rebounding is mostly attitude.

Not sure who deserves the credit for this sudden turn around, but I think that I would bet my money on
Jae Crowder or Marcus Smart.


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