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Getting better on the boards

12/4/2013

The Boston Celtics rank 25th in the league in defensive rebound percentage. And Brad Stevens couldn’t be happier.

Through the first 11 games of the season, Boston owned a league-worst defensive rebound percentage of 70.4 percent. At that point, Boston was about to embark on a road trip that featured some imposing opposing front lines (Minnesota, Houston, San Antonio), but managed to start trending in a more positive direction during that three-game stretch.

Over the past nine games, Boston’s defensive rebound rate is 75.7 percent, ranking 12th in the league during that span. That’s helped the Celtics climb from the league’s basement to 25th overall for the season with a season mark of 72.8 percent.

If Boston were to maintain that rebound rate of 75.7 percent from that nine-game stretch, it would rank them near the top 5 in the league overall this season.

“The thing I’m most pleased with, improvement-wise, has been that our defensive rebounding numbers have gotten better throughout [the season],” said Stevens. “I think we were 30th in the middle of the month. Now we’re not very high, but we’re climbing, so that’s a really positive thing.”

So what’s changed? Here’s a look at the individual changes in defensive rebound rate for every player on the roster from the first 11 games to the last nine:

A kick in the glass

A look at the change in defensive rebound percentage for Boston's roster from the first 11 games to the past nine.

Faverani’s dip is a product of his downturn in playing time. The two numbers that leap off the page are Sullinger and Bass, the team’s new starting frontcourt combination and the guys logging the most minutes up front. For Bass, whose career defensive rebound percentage is 16.3 percent, the recent leap is super encouraging. That's been the glaring weakness in his game as an undersized power forward, but he's finding a way to negate that recently to help Boston's size-deprived frontcourt.

Sprinkle in the boost Humphries is giving off the bench and you’ve got a team that’s eliminating a lot of the second-chance opportunities that plagued them earlier in the season (and helping Boston shuffle into the top 10 for defensive rating).

Now if Boston could just shore up that transition defense this team could actually slide into the top 5 in the league in defense. Not bad for a squad that was projected to have a league-worst defense entering the 2013-14 campaign.