“Tough day to play basketball.” – Kevin Garnett
Not an easy day to watch basketball, either. The Celtics played sad tonight, showing zero resistance as the Nuggets went on a 16-0 run in the last six minutes of the game. That stretch saw a bunch of blocked shots, near 24-second violations, three turnovers, and generally some of the worst offense you’ve ever seen. I mentioned earlier that it’s tough to take anything scientific from a game between two new-look teams, but some elements of tonight’s game were pretty familiar.
1. Wilson Chandler will still hit every three he attempts against the Celtics.
2. The officiating will still allow Celtics opponents to manhandle them under the basket, even with all of their muscle gone.
3. Doc would rather go with four players than give Avery Bradley serious floor time.
4. Glen Davis is still an incompetent rebounder.
We’re going to focus on that last one. The most predictable outcome of dumping three of the team’s five active bigs was realized tonight on the boards. Glen Davis was knocked around underneath by Nene and Kenyon Martin, coming away with six boards for the evening to ten each for the two Nuggets. With Davis occupying the starting center position for the foreseeable future (unless a merciful buyout comes along), his rebounding is probably among the most important things to pay attention to tonight (other than, again, the fact that Delonte looks healthy).
Incompetent is actually a fair word for Glen’s rebounding, because a sufficient number of players in league history have proven that rebounding is not a matter of size. Charles Barkley was five inches shorter than Glen. Chuck Hayes had 13 offensive rebounds last night, and he’s three inches shorter. Ben Wallace is the same height as Glen, and he’s still a hugely superior rebounder even though he’s TWELVE YEARS OLDER.
Glen isn’t a bad rebounder because he’s short. He’s a bad rebounder because he doesn’t get good positioning, gets boxed out more often than he does the boxing, and spends too much of his time near the perimeter. On several occasions tonight, a ball went up and Davis let Nene, Kenyon Martin, or Al Harrington slip in front of him and edge him out from under the ball. He’s too focused on stretching his body upward for the ball, and that makes it easier to knock him off his spot. What he should be doing is getting under the ball and planting himself so his opponents can’t get around him. If he did that, trying to get move Davis off the block would feel like this:
But instead it probably feels more like this:
Let us look at Glen’s actual numbers on the glass. We’ll charitably ignore offensive rebounding, because the C’s defensive system actively discourages it. But Glen Davis’s defensive rebound rate is 15.7, meaning that he grabs 15.7 percent of available defensive rebounds. That puts him at 140th in the league, 64th among centers. It’s his best mark ever, but he’s still been a worse defensive rebounder than several shooting guards, and almost exactly as good as Paul Pierce. Kendrick Perkins (tough just typing it) had a DRR of 27.3 in 11 games.
Ready to get really sad? I seriously need you to prepare to be sad. Okay. Jeff Green is a much worse rebounder than Glen Davis. He and Davis are both listed as being 6’9″, but Green’s defensive rebounding rate is 13.6, worse than a litany of guards and right around the level of Vince Carter. Any lineup with Green and Davis at the 4 and 5 would give up a ton of boards.
Combine this information with the fact that, before his injuries, Shaq was nothing short of a horrible rebounder. He went through a stretch in January when he grabbed 14 rebounds in SEVEN GAMES, and he averaged 3 defensive rebounds in the last 4 games he played. Now see how important it is that the Celtics end up with Troy Murphy (DRR 26.4, Perk-level) or Sam Dalembert (24.8, 30.7 last year).