Celtics rebounding problem as bad as it gets

945975.jpg

Celtics rebounding problem as bad as it gets

BOSTON To see the Boston Celtics at or near the bottom of the standings when it comes to rebounds isn't all that surprising.

After all, it's not like it's anything Celtics fans haven't seen in recent years.

But what's disturbing about things right now is that as bad as the C's have been in recent years, there are signs that they are getting worse.

And that does not bode well for a Celtics team that's looking to rebound this week - literally and figuratively - against two of the top teams in the NBA, San Antonio on Wednesday followed by Oklahoma City Friday night.

Boston is currently ranked dead-last in rebounding this season, with 36.8 rebounds per game. Even more telling about their rebounding woes is their rebounding margin this season is minus-5.3 per game which is also last in the league.

And that 5.3 rebounding deficit per game marks the third straight season the rebounding gap for the C's has expanded from the previous season.

The Celtics have been given a pass of sorts when it comes to struggling to rebound, courtesy of shooting a high percentage and winning a lot of games.

This season, the C's are fifth in the league in field goal percentage which is exactly where they were last season.

But things are different right now.

The C's are just a game over .500 and while they remain a relatively high-percentage shooting team, it is clear that the problems they have had on the boards has been a contributing factor of sorts for some of their other problems.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers recognizes how rebounding-challenged his team has been this season. But when he looks around the NBA, he sees a number of the top teams also having their issues when it comes to banging the boards.

Miami is just ahead of Boston at No. 29 in rebounding this season, but the Heat rank 21st in rebounding margin.

The New York Knicks have come up on the short end of the rebounding game most of the season despite record-wise being one of the league's top teams.

They rank 26th in rebounding and 28th in rebounding margin.

"We want to be a better rebounding team; there's no doubt about that," Rivers said. "For us to win big, we have to be. Do you have to lead the league in rebounding? I don't know if that's necessarily the truth. But we have to be a better rebounding team."

Even in their struggles, rebounding margin in the past pointed out that the Celtics were a better rebounding team than their shear rebounding totals might have indicated.

Last year, Boston was the league's worst-rebounding team. But their rebounding margin ranked 28th in the league. In 2011, the C's ranked 29th in rebounding but were up to No. 19 in rebounding margin.

And in 2010 when they advanced all the way to the NBA Finals, the C's were next-to-last in rebounding but finished 25th in rebounding margin.

Even when they were a better-than-average rebounding team, their rebounding margin rank was still consistently better.

Boston was the eighth-best rebounding team in 2009, and were No. 2 that year in rebounding margin. In 2008 when they brought home banner 17, the C's were 12th in rebounds but were the third-best in terms of rebounding margin.

So what does this mean going forward for the Celtics?

Focusing on their rebounding totals is important to keep an eye on, but not necessarily vital to them being a great team. The margin of rebounds per game is a far more telling indicator where they are in terms of rebounding success.

And if the Celtics are to have the kind of season they believe they are capable of, they need to bounce back and rebound - literally and figuratively - from their current struggles on the boards.

C's Mickey sent to D-League

jordan_mickey_celtics.jpg

C's Mickey sent to D-League

Jordan Mickey, inactive in five of the Boston Celtics’ last six games, has been assigned to the Maine Red Claws of the Development League.

“He’s been inactive in a few of these games here,” Stevens told reporters prior to tonight’s game at Philadelphia. “And rather than being inactive and being here in a suit and tie, we knew there was a hockey game this afternoon and it was going to be unlikely to get much action on the court at all today. So it made a lot more sense to play for a couple days and fly down to Houston and meet us.”

Mickey has appeared in just eight games this season, averaging 2.2 points and 1.8 rebounds while shooting 47.1 percent from the field.

Tonight will be the former second-round pick’s 10th missed game this season, five in which he did not play (coaches decision) and another five in which he will be inactive.

The lack of playing time for the second-year player has more to do with Boston’s depth in the frontcourt than anything specific to his game.

“He’s done a good job,” Stevens said of Mickey. “It’s the same old thing that last year although we’re not quite as deep at that spot. But it’s still, at the end of the day we have to make a decision of, are we going to play more traditional or are we going to slide like a Jonas (Jerebko) or Jae (Crowder) over to the four (power forward) and play more spaced which limits the amount of bigs you can have in a game.

Stevens added, “he’s done a good job.  He’s made progress. I don’t think there’s any question we think he’s a guy that can help us not only down the road but this year.”

Mickey is in the lineup for the Red Claws’ game tonight against Santa Cruz and he’s also scheduled to play in Sunday’s game against the Raptors 905 with both games being televised via Facebook Live.

Rask stops 35 shots in Bruins' 2-1 win over Sabres

boston-bruins-tuukka-rask-sabres-120316.jpg

Rask stops 35 shots in Bruins' 2-1 win over Sabres

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Tuukka Rask made 35 saves to help the Bruins hold off the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 on Saturday

David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron scored to give Boston a 2-0 lead and the Bruins improved to 3-0-1 in their past four.

Evander Kane scored his first goal of the season for Buffalo. Robin Lehner returned after missing one game with a hip injury and made 32 saves.

The Sabres combined for nine goals in their previous two wins but the NHL's lowest-scoring team reverted to form from the first 21 games, when star center Jack Eichel was out of the lineup with a high-ankle sprain.

Krejci got the Bruins on the scoreboard with 5:50 left in the first when he deflected Brandon Carlo's slap shot from the point off the right post and into the net.

The Sabres appeared to tie the game late in the second period but replays determined Brian Gionta kicked the puck into the net.

Bergeron made it 2-0 at 7:10 of the second at 7:44 of the third when he knocked on the rebound of his own missed shot. Bergeron initially hit the puck with his forearm on the left edge of the crease and skated around the net to chase down the puck and slip a backhand past Lehner.

The Sabres answered two minutes later, scoring on Rask for the first time in 109:12 this season. Sam Reinhart's feed off the rear wall set up Kane for a wrist shot from the slot that bounced in off Krejci. Reinhart has five points in his last four games.

NOTES: Bruins F Matt Beleskey was escorted to the dressing room in the final minute of the first period with a lower-body injury and did not return. ... Sabres D Josh Gorges did not play after injuring his foot blocking a shot in Thursday's win over the New York Rangers. With Dmitry Kulikov (lower back) and Zach Bogosian (MCL sprain) also out, the Sabres were down three of their top four defenseman and recalled 19-year-old Brendan Guhle from the minors to make his NHL debut. Guhle hustled back to thwart a breakaway by Krejci late in the third period. ... F Anton Blidh became the seventh Bruin to make his NHL debut this season after being recalled from the minors on Friday. ... The Bruins scratched F Jimmy Hayes. D Zdeno Chara, the Bruins' captain, missed his sixth straight game with a lower-body injury. ... Rask got a shutout in Boston's 4-0 win over Buffalo on Nov. 7.

UP NEXT

Bruins: Host Florida on Monday.

Sabres: At Washington on Monday.

 

© 2016 by STATS and The Associated Press.