Boston Celtics: Offensive Rebounding
The Celtics? After three straight seasons in the offensive rebounding basement, they've vaulted to 12th in the NBA this year while hauling in 27.3 percent of all available missed shots. What's more, Boston ranks in the top 10 in second-chance points at 14 per game this season.
Here's where Boston ranked in each of the past four seasons (with offensive rebound percentage), which only makes this year's number more eye-popping:
2012-13: 30th (20.1)
2011-12: 30th (19.7)
2010-11: 30th (21.1)
2009-10: 28th (22.8)
One night after grabbing 20 offensive rebounds in a loss to the Indiana Pacers, the Celtics hauled in 16 more offensive caroms in Wednesday's loss to the New York Knicks.
So why the uptick this year? Much can be credited to second-year big man Jared Sullinger, who ranks in the top 10 in the league in total offensive rebounds and leads the team with an offensive rebound rate of 13.2 percent. And rookie Kelly Olynyk has emerged as an active rebounder on the offensive glass in recent weeks (his offensive rebound rate is a robust 12 percent).
Before Wednesday's game, Celtics first-year coach Brad Stevens explained his thoughts on offensive rebounding.
"I think my biggest thing, personally, is that you have to balance [offensive rebounding] well with transition defense," said Stevens. "Transition defense, you can’t give up on that. That has to be a huge part of what you do. Right now, our transition defense has gotten significantly better in the last two months, and overall been pretty good, really since [Rajon] Rondo’s been back we’ve been pretty good. Then, offensively, there’s going to be games when you’re not making shots and if you can get a putback or two to kinda stem the tide, it’s important. And we do have guys, especially in [Kris] Humphries and Sullinger, that are really good offensive rebounders and you certainly don’t want to take that away from those guys. Anything we can do to get a basket, I think we need to try to do it."
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.”
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