5-on-5: The Big Picture
1. What’s the biggest problem so far: rebounding, offense, or defense?
* Brendan Jackson: Rebounding. The following will tell you everything you need to know about how little the Celtics hit the glass: 18 and 24. Those are their league rankings for defensive and offensive rebound rate. In past years, the Celtics’ lack of success hitting the offensive glass was explainable given the way their defense was built schematically: retreat to live another possession. This season, however, a greater emphasis seems to have been placed on offensive rebounding but the results are mediocre: the C’s are 14th in defensive efficiency.
* Hayes Davenport: Defense. Without a major personnel change, the Celtics were never going to be top-tier scorers or rebounders. They’re a defensively oriented team. That’s their whole thing. But this year, that defense has fallen off a cliff, and their record has responded accordingly. Of those three arenas, defense is the one where the Celtics have gotten dramatically worse, so that’s the biggest problem of the season.
* Chris Forsberg: Rebounding. The offense, while not scoring a lot of points because of the snail-pace and turnovers that have plagued the team, should get better and we have to assume the defense will as well. But it’s not likely the Celtics will morph into a dominant rebounding team and that could hurt them down the line. Kevin Garnett’s defensive rebounding rate is off 7 percent early in the year and he’s still easily the best rebounder on the team. One encouraging thing there is Brandon Bass has been better on the boards than expected, but Boston needs more from a healthy Chris Wilcox on the glass (at both ends of the floor).
* Ryan DeGama: The defense is the biggest problem but it’s also the biggest outlier from past seasons and the one most likely to resolve itself over time. Two months from now, we’ll likely be focused on the structural problems with this team, which involve an inability to get buckets and clean the glass. There’s no likely internal improvement that would push these things to an acceptable level without roster changes.
* Brian Robb: The offense. Over the past couple of games, the defense has started to improve as the bench players have become acclimated with Doc’s system. The rebounding has also shown signs of life after the team was blasted by Ainge on-air last week. The offense, on the other hand, has continued to regress, and there are no real solutions on the current roster for the main problem in that area: shot creation. The Big Three-era Celtics have always been a turnover prone team and never will be a good offensive rebounding squad. The high percentage shooting days of old are gone for many veterans, leaving the C’s scrapping harder than ever for points.
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