The Boston Celtics, founded upon the concept of team defense, stand no chance of winning anything without improving its rebounding.
If you've had the chance to tune into any of the C's first 15 games, you will not be surprised to hear that they currently rank last in the NBA in team rebounding. Averaging 37.1 boards per game will not get it done against top-tier opponents.
The most obvious cause of the Celtics' rebounding woes has to be the fact that they don't have a true center. With all due respect to Kevin Garnett—he accepted and adapted to his new role as well as anyone could—Boston needs someone larger than 6'11" to bang around under the basket.
Until then, the Celtics can make immediate improvements by ensuring that athletic guards and forwards like Courtney Lee and Jeff Green are focused on crashing the glass when shots go up.
Interestingly enough, the team's defensive rebounding percentage—.739—suggests that the Celtics do a fairly good job of protecting on the defensive end. However, the C's are miserable on the offensive glass, leaving themselves minimal margin for error.
Below are a few major reasons the Celtics need to establish a better rebounding game, and fast.
For anyone who makes the argument that the mix of new pieces is keeping the Celtics from displaying chemistry, listen up. Boston, regardless of the players that comprise the roster, needs to be a team centered around defense.
The Celtics do not have a scorer like Kevin Durant or LeBron James that can take over games. Neither did the title-winning team in 2008, although Paul Pierce had a bit more pep in his step.
In any case, this team is not going to be the type to outscore its foes in a shootout. Time for Coach Rivers to drill it into his players' heads: getting the other team out of rhythm will be the best way to win games.
The most important way to keep this defense fresh will be to limit opposing opportunities. In other words, if Kevin Durant or LeBron James misses, the Celtics need to collect the rebound after the first attempt.
After securing the ball on defense, Boston will be in better position to dictate the pace and flow of the game.
Pace and Flow
Transition offense is the name of Rajon Rondo's game. And Rondo at this point is the engine of the Celtics offense. Think about what happens after the Celtics secure a rebound on the defensive end.
First and foremost, Rondo or another fast-moving guard receives the ball on an outlet pass. Athletic—albeit undersized—forwards run the floor well, leaving the point men with plenty of good first-look opportunities.
Although the key cogs are noticeably older now than during the championship run, the best way to get them into the scoring flow is to make them feel comfortable and to play at their pace. This starts with cleaning up rebounds after an opponent miss.
Let's face it, this team is not an offensive juggernaut. They are not impervious to good team defense and have lacked a go-to man other than Paul Pierce.
One way for the Celtics to add a few more points each game is to provide themselves with second opportunities to score. Guys like Jared Sullinger, Brandon Bass, Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox should up their attention to fighting for offensive boards.
Its hard to argue for the Celtics to focus on offensive rebounding when the most important job comes on the defensive end. However, this team could use a bit of a comfort zone to operate inside of, and second-chance hoops are a good way to create that gap.