Julian Benbow of The Boston Globe has a nice little tidbit in his notebook column this morning, with the C’s talking rebounding. It’s actually something I was planning on getting into next week, but let’s hear what these guys have to say on it first:
They neglected the glass all last season, and it came back to haunt them in the Finals. Now, Celtics’ focus on improving their rebounding borders on obsession.
In the preseason opener against the 76ers, Ray Allen grabbed eight boards, an abnormal number for him. The next night in New Jersey, Paul Pierce grabbed a game-high six.
The Celtics marked the glass as their territory in the preseason, outrebounding their Atlantic Division sparring partners by an average of 43.4-34.6. Last season, they gave up 40.1 rebounds a night, grabbing just 38.6.
They’ve added size in Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal, but from the time training camp opened, coach Doc Rivers made boxing out a top priority and emphasized that rebounding has to be a collective effort.
“We lost a championship because we got destroyed on the glass,’’ Rivers said. “You can look at a lot of things in that game, but the bottom line is, when a team outrebounds you by double the amount on the offensive glass and they shoot 25 more free throws than you, you’re probably going to lose that basketball game.’’
The preseason numbers indicate that the Celtics get the message, but there were stretches when Rivers wasn’t pleased with the rebounding. Wednesday night against the Nets, New Jersey jumped out to a 27-15 lead on the Celtics starters, mostly by controlling the boards (14-8).
“We’ve got to be a better rebounding team,’’ Rivers said. “I think we started out well, we’ve won the war, but I actually think we’re still giving up too many. We’re not going to win if we don’t rebound.’’
The Celtics have adopted an at-all-costs mentality to make sure the rebounding battle is won.
“As long as somebody gets the rebound,’’ Allen said. “The most important thing is my guy can’t get it.
“I think each man has said it, and I believe it wholeheartedly: Rebounding is what kept us from winning the whole thing.’’
So do you believe the talk?
These guys have the right idea on how much rebounding cost them in the regular season. We all know the problems they had on the offensive end (28th in offensive rebounding percentage), but they took a significant step back on the defensive glass (just 12th in defensive rebounding percentage) thanks to KG’s limited mobileness and Rasheed’s “workmanlike” effort rebounding from outside the arc on most occasions.
So here’s my question to you guys? Just how big of a jump in rebounding do you expect this year? Obviously the preseason was a nice start and I’m very encouraged by Paul Pierce and Ray Allen making a concerted effort to hit the glass. Pierce is actually one of the best SF rebounders in the league when he wants to see as shown by last year’s postseason. KG is looking tremendously more mobile this year which undoubtedly will help as well.
Jermaine and Shaq can both hold their own at their spot, but do you expect these veteran guys to keep up the pressure on the glass through the 82 game grind, or keep some in the tank for the postseason? I’m on the fence but I have to say: The good news may be that this year, they have the depth to do both.