Boston Celtics: 2013Game12
That was Boston's only offensive carom of the night, but Rivers insisted he's not concerned by the low number.
“Honestly, we shot 53 percent, [so] there’s not going to be a lot of offensive boards," said Rivers. "You know what I mean? So I’m not that concerned by it. [The Spurs] shot 58 percent and they had six. So, you’re a big believer in offensive rebounds I think; I’m not. Listen, like I said, you can pick on that all I want. That is a number I rarely look at, offensive rebounds. Statistically, it holds up. I can tell you, you don’t offensive rebound, you stop transition, you win more games than when you get offensive rebounds. I can guarantee you that on those stats."
The Celtics' defensive philosophy in recent seasons has been to eschew second-chance opportunities with the goal of getting back and forcing opponents to play in a halfcourt set. That's helped make Boston one of the league's top defenses throughout the Kevin Garnett era. Heck, Boston had the lowest offensive rebound percentage (19.7) in league history last year.
Boston surely wants to grab more offensive boards, and rookie Jared Sullinger has earned heavy playing time with that in mind. But Rivers refuses to allow more transition opportunities and it's easy to understand why: The Celtics rank dead last in the league in points allowed per transition play.
"Obviously, we would like to get some offensive rebounds, and if we’re under there we’ll take them, and we didn’t get any, but that is not why we lost," said Rivers. "Let me just say that. Offensive rebounds are the least of our problems.”
THE NITTY GRITTY
Tiago Splitter ate the Celtics up around the basket while scoring 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting off the Spurs' bench. Tony Parker added a team-high 26 points, while Tim Duncan chipped in 20 points and 15 rebounds to pace San Antonio. Rajon Rondo did his best to will Boston back into the game with a 22-point, 15-assist effort, but the Spurs kept Boston at arm's length much of the night. Paul Piece scored 19 points (but didn't grab a rebound), while Brandon Bass added 16 points and 6 rebounds as Boston got little in production from its bench (only 17 points from the reserves).
The Spurs put together a little burst late in the third quarter to carry an eight-point lead into the final frame. Splitter produced a pair of layups and Manu Ginobili added a patented "how did he sneak that in?" layup of his own as the Spurs opened an 82-74 lead. Gary Neal buried a 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter and that lead ballooned to double digits. A Rondo-fueled burst with under four minutes to play pulled Boston within six, but the Spurs regrouped and let Boston get no closer.
THE STREAK REACHES 35
Rondo opened the second half with five assists over the first 3:09 to prolong his double-digit assist streak. Rondo's run now sits at 35 straight games, which is third best all-time behind only John Stockton (37) and Magic Johnson (46).
AN OFFENSIVE MOMENT AVOIDED
The Celtics nearly became only the second team over the past 25 seasons to be shut out on the offensive glass. With 90 seconds remaining, Brandon Bass registered the team's first -- and only -- offensive rebound with a tip-in. The Spurs won the battle on the glass 41-25 overall and turned six offensive rebounds into 14 second-chance points. The only team to endure the shutout over the past quarter century: the Spurs, back on Jan. 23, 2002, against the Utah Jazz. Alas, the Spurs still won that game, 98-82.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics (6-6) shot 53.2 percent from the floor, but could do nothing to stop the Spurs, who shot a whopping 58.4 percent (45-of-77) and produced a whopping 58 points in the paint (Boston registered only 34). A now-.500 Boston squad can lick its wounds on Turkey Day before another Western Conference power visits on Friday, when the Oklahoma City Thunder invade the Garden.
BOSTON -- Celtics coach Doc Rivers expressed disappointment in the departure of center Darko Milicic, but admitted it was a bit of an unemotional separation because the team never got a chance to tap into his potential.
The Celtics waived Milicic on Wednesday after he requested his release in order to remain home with his ill mother in Serbia. The family issues, coupled with a nonexistent role with Boston through 10 games this season, encouraged the 10-year veteran to step away from the NBA.
"It’s pretty much unemotional because you never got a chance," said Rivers. "I’d liked to have had that opportunity, I thought we were building him. But you know how I feel about all the other stuff outside of basketball, I think that’s more important."
Rivers reaffirmed that the Celtics are in no rush to fill the roster spot and the team plans to leave rookie center Fab Melo in the D-League in order to get game reps (he can always be recalled in emergency situations, but the Celtics have deep depth with Jason Collins having played sparingly this season).
"I haven’t talked to [Celtics president of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge]," said Rivers. "Danny’s out looking at college players, so that tells you how much of an urgency [filling the roster spot is] for us right now. We’re not thinking about it at all; we haven’t talked about it at all."
Rivers was asked how captain Paul Pierce is feeling after tweaking his ankle in Detroit on Sunday and retreating to the locker room with 98 seconds to play. Rivers playfully downplayed the severity.
"Did he sprain his ankle? No, we call that the ‘ankle sprain because we may practice tomorrow’ injury," said Rivers. "You know what I’m saying? That’s what I thought it was, but he actually did. When he actually did sprain his ankle, I honestly thought, 'This is the I-can’t-practice-tomorrow injury coming up.' And it actually happened to be an ankle. But he’s OK."
Rivers was asked for his thoughts on Grinnell College's Jack Taylor, who scored 138 points in a Division III college game on Tuesday.
"I can’t even imagine," said Rivers. "I’m sure that I’ve been on a team that’s got [138 points] -- maybe. That’s a hell of an outing. I couldn’t do that in a gym by myself."
* TIME TO ELEVATE THEIR GAME: The busiest portion of Boston's regular-season schedule is in the rear-view mirror, but a reduced workload only gives way to increased competition as both the Spurs and Thunder visit the Garden this week. Boston's 6-5 record shows just how inconsistent this team has been so far and the Celtics need to shift to the next gear. Coming off a 20-point shellacking at the hands of a one-win Detroit team, the Spurs ought to ensure Boston is focused. "Clearly, it's fun playing teams like this," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "It really is. I hope every night's a litmus test. We've got to get better. We're 6-5 and you are what your record says you are. So, we want to just get better."
* SYNERGY SNAPSHOT: There are no surprises with the Spurs. Offensively, they are one of the best halfcourt teams in the league (third overall, 0.937 points per play, according to Synergy Sports data), thriving in the pick-and-roll and knocking down open looks. The Spurs rank 28th in the league in transition -- a welcome sight for a Boston team still tightening up its transition defense -- but Boston's stout halfcourt defense will be tested. As rookie Jared Sullinger noted, "Their ball movement and their ability to share the ball [stands out], and they execute on offense very, very well. So, you've just got to be prepared to play defense for the whole 24-second shot clock." Defensively, the Spurs rank in the top third of the league overall (seventh, 0.884 points per play), but are susceptible in transition if Boston can force misses and run the other way.
* KG vs. DUNCAN: Nothing more needs to be said, right? Just one of the league's best big-man rivalries. We only get a chance to see it twice per year now, but it rarely disappoints. Last year the buzz was whether the final Boston-San Antonio meeting could have been the last between Garnett and Duncan. Then both went out and signed three-year contract extensions (so much for the retirement chatter) and there's plenty more to see if they both stick around for the duration of their deals.
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