Yesterday, I had the good fortune of attending the C’s practice over at their facility in Waltham. It was a longer than expected session for The Green, with the media being allowed into the practice a half hour after what was anticipated originally. Once we were allowed in, Doc spent several minutes speaking to the media gathered about a variety of topics. At the end of this session, as the rest of the media contingent headed over to hear Uno Uno speak, I was able to grab Doc and had the opportunity to talk to him one on one for what I knew in all probability would just be for one question.
This I figured could be big. Here, I had the opportunity to ask Doc anything and I didn’t want to throw it away. What would I go with? KG’s return and its effect on the team? Marquis Daniels’ role when he returns? Trade rumors? The possibilities were endless!
Well, I have to say I apologize in advance to let you know I asked about the relatively unexciting subject of the C’s defensive rebounding. Really B Robb? Defensive Rebounding? I know…..and I understand it’s really not that sexy a topic. However, it is one that I thought could be valuable to talk to Doc about for a couple reasons.
1) It’s something we have talked and worried about in great detail here at Celtics Hub. Zach Lowe has dug deep trying to dissect why this team has become a middle of the road defensive rebounding team as have I in recent weeks. The two of us have had trouble coming to a conclusion that makes sense, so why not go to the top dog himself for answers?
2) Doc is someone, in my opinion, who will give you legitimate answers to basketball questions. In a region here in New England where we get overly generic answers from coaches in other sports, Doc is a nice breath of fresh air who won’t pull any punches with you when discussing the C’s strengths as well as weaknesses.
With this in mind, I dove in and posed the question to the coach:
CelticsHub: Doc, you guys have been an elite defensive rebounding team the past couple seasons, but seem to have dropped off to a middle of the road team in this category this year. Are you concerned about this regression or do you think it is a problem that will be helped out with the return of KG on a full time basis?
Doc’s surprising answer along with some final thoughts on the matter, after the jump.
A couple highlights of Doc’s response
* He is concerned about the defensive rebounding.
*And it what came as somewhat of a shock to me, Doc acknowledged that the return of KG would not solve the defensive rebounding problem. He wisely pointed out to me that the C’s were having problems with the defensive rebounding even before KG went down in December.
*The problem, Doc believed stems from poor positioning by the team on the blocks down low. The guys need to do a better job of boxing out and a better job of positioning themselves to do so. He said it was a team wide problem, not a problem with the big guys.
Given this information, I inquired about the positioning and team wide problem comment. What could the guards do better to help? Does he want them to hit the glass more and help out the big guys?
* Doc emphasized that he does not need the guards on the glass more, he just needs them to do a better job of keeping their man in front of them. When the guards let their men by them, the bigs have to recover to help them and in turn can be left in poor rebounding position, due to the rotations. Doc essentially emphasized that the guards cutting down on these kinds of rotations would do wonders in helping to solve the problem.
Doc’s analysis of the situation was very enlightening and honestly makes a lot of sense. Given Ray’s age and Rondo’s capacity to gamble on defense, opposing guards have been getting into the lane with great regularity this year against the C’s. Penetration like this forces the big guys to come over and help. The C’s bigs are great at doing this, but it also leaves them out of position, which forces guys like Paul Pierce and Ray Allen to try to box out talented big rebounders like Marcus Camby, Al Hortford, etc.
So does seem like a problem the C’s can solve or at least improve upon? In the case of Rondo, you would hope so. He did a much better job with Baron Davis on Monday night in this department. With Ray, given his lack of speed at this juncture in his career, he is always going to have problems keeping more athletic guards in front of him. He is a savvy defender though, given his limitations so look for him to find ways to stay ahead of the opposition.
I guess the best news here though is that Doc is fully aware of the problem, and has a plan to combat it.
Stay tuned to Celtics Hub later this afternoon for additional Celtics Hub perspective on yesterday’s practice, along with some pictures.