<
>

Notebook: Cleaning up broken glass

3/13/2014

BOSTON -- The offensive glass wasn't much of a priority in recent seasons for the Boston Celtics. Former coach Doc Rivers used to implore his bigs to retreat to get set on defense. Heck, even with big, athletic bodies up front now with the Los Angeles Clippers, Rivers' new team still ranks only 22nd in offensive rebound percentage this season.

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."



SHAKE & BAKE

Shake, shake, shake and then end with a 3-pointer.

That's the way Humphries described trying to defend Carmelo Anthony on the perimeter on Wednesday night. Three times over the first 3 ½ minutes of the game, poor Humphries watched as Anthony drilled triples over him (twice in isolation, once while trying to scramble out to contest).

The Knicks ultimately hit nine of their first 10 attempts beyond the 3-point arc, keyed by Anthony and Tim Hardaway Jr. while putting up a whopping 68 first-half points en route to a 116-92 triumph at TD Garden.

Anthony finished with a game-high 34 points on 11-of-25 shooting over 39:11. Hardaway Jr. added 22 on 7-of-11 shooting in 38 minutes off the New York bench.

"There are different ways to play the pick-and-roll; we tried just about every way," shrugged Celtics coach Brad Stevens. "And because of their shooting all around, they were really in a good rhythm. And it started with Carmelo hitting those in isolation. You know one of the things we wanted to do was try to make it as difficult as possible, make him take contested jump shots, it’s what you’ve got to do, and to his credit he’s playing great. And he knocked them in."

The Knicks finished 11-of-19 beyond the arc (57.9 percent). New York, which has now won five straight, led by as much as 24 in the first half and never trailed (Boston briefly cut the lead to single digits in the third quarter, but never got closer than 9).



LOOSE BALLS

Emptying out the notebook ...

WELCOME TO REVIS ISLAND: The Celtics could have used Darrelle Revis' defense on the parquet Wednesday. The team actually posted news of his signing with the New England Patriots on the JumboTron in the second half, but it was met with only mild applause (likely due to the lopsided nature of the game at that point).

KNICKS ARE CLIMBING: With Wednesday's win, the Knicks, who are enjoying a softer part of their schedule, have won five in a row and stayed within three games of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Said Anthony: "Regardless of who we play, we’re just taking it one game at a time. These are teams that we’ve got to play, it’s on the schedule, so we don’t control that. The only thing we can control is whether we win or not."