It’s an article of faith that the Celtics are a terrible rebounding team. Everyone knows the Celtics eschew offensive rebounds and everyone regularly seizes upon the chance to excoriate the Celtics for their inability to clean the glass after missed shots.
The problem with that line of thinking is that the Celtics are an excellent defensive rebounding team.
Again, for emphasis: in the single area of rebounding that draws their attention (defensive) the Celtics are one of the most proficient teams in the league. As of this morning, the Celtics are tied for 7th in the league with a 74.0 DRR. That puts them ahead of Miami, the Lakers, OKC, Chicago and the Clippers.
These numbers are built on the backs of Kevin Garnett (24.5 DRR) Jared Sullinger (21.9) and Paul Pierce (17.9, his best number in the Big Three era).
So, that’s the good news.
The bad news is that Sullinger is a foul prone rookie averaging only 17.7 minutes a night and when Doc Rivers extends Garnett’s minutes beyond his standard 30, his efficiency craters. That leaves only Pierce, he of the small forward position and 35 years of age, as the Celtics lone “full-time” player. That’s why Brandon Bass, whose shooting and rotations have been mediocre-to-awful on any given night, continues to log heavy court time. He’s fourth in line with a 16.1 DRR.
The takeaway: the Celtics take care of their own glass when some combination of KG, Sully and Pierce are on the floor together. That’s where we default back to the common wisdom. Given the limitations with each of those three players and the weak rebounders behind them (particularly Jason Collins and Jeff Green), the Celtics probably do remain shy a legitimate rebounder if they still harbor hopes of making a deep playoff run in the spring.