Post-game Reactions

The Celtics allowed 16 offensive rebounds against Portland, and they’ve dropped  to 16th in the league in defensive rebounding percentage after ranking 3rd last season and 8th in ’08.

This is a very bad thing, and it’s a sort of unexpected thing. The decline in Boston’s offensive rebounding (they rank 27th) was predictable given the loss of one of the league’s best offensive rebounders (Leon Powe) and the signing of a player (Rasheed Wallace) who has never been a good offensive rebounder.

But Wallace has always been a very good defensive rebounder. So has Kevin Garnett. So has Kendrick Perkins.

So why are the C’s giving up so many more offensive rebounds this season? When you watch the tape, it’s very hard to pinpoint one cause or easy scapegoat. Sometimes an offensive rebound is just bad luck. But sometimes a team puts itself in position to fail long before a shot goes up.

Like here:

Let’s look at why Andre Miller (a frickin’ point guard) was able to grab that board so easily.

Here’s where we are right before LaMarcus Aldridge (holding the ball) goes to work against Rasheed Wallace on the left wing:

Andre Miller (guarded by Rajon Rondo at the left elbow) has just delivered an entry pass to Aldridge and is cutting through the paint. All is well.

But seconds later, we see this:

The main thing to notice here is that Rajon Rondo has stopped paying attention to Miller (who is on the right edge of the paint, about halfway to the baseline). Instead, Rondo is lurking in the paint as Aldridge takes a hard dribble to his left. This is Rajon’s choice, and it’s the choice that is going to result in Miller’s offensive rebound.

Is it a good choice or an unneeded bit of help defense that isn’t really helpful? I’m not sure. Perhaps Rajon’s presence in the paint helped Aldridge decided to take a step-back jumper instead of driving, but Aldridge is more a jump-shooter than a guy who attacks the hoop off the dribble.

In any case, here’s what things look like when the shot is in the air:

You can see the problem area: Big Baby and Tony Allen have to box out three guys on the right side of the floor. Rondo is flat-footed in the left side of the paint. If the board bounces his way (or back to Eddie House near the foul line), we forget about this and move on.

Another thing to note: Tony Allen doesn’t start the rebounding part of this possession in great position, as he’s behind everyone and focusing on the same Blazer (Juwan Howard) as Big Baby. It’s tough to pin this on TA, though; boxing out three guys with two players is tough work.

Here’s what things look like when the ball comes off the rim:

Allen has done a nice job sliding inside of one Blazers (Martell Webster), and Big Baby has taken care of Howard. That leaves Miller alone for the board and put-back. If this board is anyone’s “fault” (and assigning blame in the NBA is tricky business), it’s Rajon’s.

Let’s look at one more example that shows the weird combination of poor technique, age and plain ol’ bad luck that can contribute to an offensive rebound for the bad guys:

Let’s slow it down. Here’s how the court looks as Rudy Fernandez takes that corner three:

Nothing alarming here. The C’s have a bunch of guys in the paint to box out Portland’s one guy in the paint (Dante Cunningham). Sheed’s positioning behind Cunningham isn’t great, but he is between Cunningham and the rim and can take care of things but sliding forward a step or two and sealing Cunningham out. Let’s see if he gets the job done:

Sheed’s a bit flat-footed, but otherwise his position here is sound, right? Everyone else is doing good work. Check out Glen Davis turning around to find a body and box out.

Except one thing: Look at Eddie House behind Sheed and Cunningham. Eddie appears to have his right arm (the one in a white sleeve) on Cunningham’s back, sorta shoving him. I watched this clip at least a dozen times. At first, I thought Eddie shoved Sheed by accident. The more I watch it, the more it looks like Eddie, for whatever reason, decided to give Cunningham an extra little push toward the baseline.

What do you guys think? Am I reading/seeing this right? If I am, perhaps Eddie is trying his best to take Cunningham out of rebounding position by shoving him under the rim.

If so, his plan backfires:

Cunningham is athletic enough to get back into the play despite Eddie’s little push. He goes the rim and curls back into the paint. Even so, he’s really only in position to get the rebound if it bounces into a very limited slice of air—right in front of the rim or just to the right of the rim, where there’s some empty space between Cunningham and Ray Allen.

And guess where it goes?

Seriously, if you’re going to blame someone here, whom do you blame? Sheed? House? Allen for being a generally poor weak side rebounder? The basketball gods?

It’s tough, right?

I think the only generalization you might be able to (cautiously)  make is that Sheed just isn’t very quick on his feet anymore.

But one thing you can say for sure: It’s tough to pinpoint one or even two reasons why the C’s are having trouble protecting the defensive glass. It’s a team thing, and everyone has to do better.

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Zach Lowe

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  • pinsla

    Great job!
    In my opinion the problem is with the Celtics guards. They do not box out very good and much of the offensive rebs have come from a long bounces of the rim

    Sometimes a good box out it not enough as in your first example Big Baby could follow the ball bounce or anticipate and not be so focused on the boxing out his man and then he could get the rebound because he is taller then Miller

    Also one thing i did notice that there is a problem when a guard in this game Miller beets our defenders Rondo or Ray of the dribble and goes to the rim then some of the big man steps in like Perk and try to block his shot. If he misses Perks man is in really good position to get offensive rebound

    sorry for my bad english:)

  • cmoney

    play Shelden Williams over Baby. That’s half our problem right there.

  • Jason

    At this point, luck has to be ruled out. There have been enough games that where the ball bounces should have evened out. I’m with pinsla, that it’s the guards. They’re the first culprit. The guards rely too much on the bigs rotating and closing down the lane, but then the bigs are of position to rebound. The guards have to stay in front better and if not they have to do their part to rebound, pick up the slack. Ray’s 6’6″, he should be able to help out more.

    The second culprit is the bigs themselves. Perk is not tall for a center, he doesn’t soar and he’s often rotating to contest. He’s at a disadvantage a lot. Sheed is long, but he’s not active and doesn’t really have hops. We know KG doesn’t just jump 12″ over everyone and snatch away boards like he used to anymore and we know BBD is a below the rim player. That’s just not a fearsome rebounding front line. A Noah or Varajao will out hustle and out leap this corps and also they only have to get a tip on a ball to keep it live whereas the C’s have to grab with two hands and secure.

    This is a team-wide problem. If they can be so in sync as a defense, they could put the time and effort to overcome this problem too, except the coaches don’t seem to be taking this seriously, that there’s a problem severe enough to address. But it’s a huge problem.

    By the way, if they’re 16th when facing an easy schedule, how bad is this going to be when they face just playoff teams? The Hawks, Magic, Cavs and Lakers all present major rebounding challenges. It could get ugly come playoff time if this isn’t addressed.

  • DRJ1

    Interesting examples. Both are due more to bad luck than anything else.

    It’s impossible for any team to cover every cubic foot of space under the rim. In the first example, everywhere is covered EXCEPT the extreme right side of the rim, and wouldn’t you know it, that’s exactly where the ball bounces. Blame the gods. Sure, Rondo MIGHT have stuck with his guy and prevented this, but only if he could foretell the future. What Rondo actually did was not bad or necessarily an error. He’s in great rebounding position there, covering the entire left side.

    In the 2nd example, Eddie definitely pushes (fouls, actually) Cunningham, successfully. Good move. But as luck would have it, Cunningham’s recovery puts him in the exact best position to lunge forward and grab the rebound. Gods again. Because again, the Cs are in good position to get a reasonable rebound. What can you do? Sometimes aces lose to 7-2 offsuit.

    Sheed in the 2nd example is caught flatfooted, but that’s because he was shoved or pulled off balance. It’s hard to tell if he sort of wanders into Eddie’s push, or if Cunningham pulls his arm when he gets pushed. Either way, again – bad luck. Had he not been pushed (or pulled), he would have been in perfect position to grab that rebound before Cunningham could get to it. But he wasn’t. Shake your fist at the sky.

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  • Cptn Bubbles

    I agree with a lot of what Jason is saying. If you don’t fix it now, it will only get worse in the playoffs. There is a skill to rebounding. It takes some height, quickness, & jumping power, but it also takes some brains in knowing where the ball is going & getting yourself there. Many guys will watch the path of the ball but not adjust or move 1 inch as they watch. Many guys just stand there flat footed hoping the ball will bounce to them. The Cs need to get educated & watch how all of these shorter guys are managing to stay in the top 10 in rebounding.

    All my conceptions about rebounding were shattered when a 6′ 6 guy led the league in rebounding in 1986-87. He was tops in the NBA in offensive rebounding for 3 straight years. They should fly Charles Barkley into Boston. Treat him like a king (give him Krispy Kreme donuts & orange Nehi) & have him work with guys about how he was such a fierce rebounder at 6′ 6. It would also be good for the Cs because Charles would be brutally honest but funny. Imagine what a great practice that would be with guys involved & actually LISTENING. They would remember it because it would be memorable. Dennis Rodman probably needs money. He would also add some zing to a practice & capture the guys attention span. His ball tracking ability off the glass was uncanny.

    If you look at the top ten in rebounding in the league right now #4 is Zach Randolph 6′ 9 #5 is Gerald Wallace 6′ 7 #6 is David Lee 6′ 9 #9 is Carlos Boozer 6′ 9
    2 older guys, Marcus Camby 35 & Timmy Duncan 33 are #3 & #10. One would think the 7 foot plus guys would lead the league, but look at how many of these guys are under 6′ 10 or are older (less jumpy). It’s not just chance or height that puts these guys in the top ten.

    I have seen lots of games lately where there is only ONE Celtic rebounding, ONE! Or 1 or all of the bigs are racing up the floor before the ball is secured. They have been more concerned & interested in fast breaking than the mundane task of rebounding. There’s just not a lot of glam with cleaning the glass, but you can’t have a fast break or banner without it.

    Defense begins when the other team has possession. I think offensive rebounds are the best defense because the other team cannot score without possession of the ball. Most NBA players hate to play defense & are demoralized by having to play it more & more. Every time you get an offensive board it is deflating for the other team because they have to start all over again & play a whole other round of something they hate, D. I think you spend more energy trying to defend so you can wear a team down with offensive boards both physically & mentally. Also, if you offensive rebound & score then the other team has to take the ball out of bounds & down the full length of the court giving you more time to get set defensively.

  • john robles

    If we lose to the Clippers……for sure we need to do something………….Danny needs to get going on trading our stiffs …… Rivers’ rotation sucks ……

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  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    @cmoney: agree. baby is a liability on the defensive glass. he just seems to wander.

    @jason. agree. its an overall age and mobility issue. lack of guys with hops and quickness. exhibitA: KG had something like 3 boards last night.

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