Celtics rebounding problem as bad as it gets

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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.

Amid signs his job might be in trouble, Julien says: 'I'm not quitting on this team'

Amid signs his job might be in trouble, Julien says: 'I'm not quitting on this team'

BRIGHTON, Mass – Roughly 12 hours after embattled Bruins coach Claude Julien bristled at a question about his job security and labeled it “shock journalism” in the heat of the moment after a tight loss to the Blackhawks, the B’s bench boss delivered a classy, heartfelt response to the same question.

Julien was asked about it in French by a reporter from the Montreal Gazette, but answered in English because of the “loyalty he feels to the people in Boston.”

In essence, Julien basically said he should be relieved of his duties if he’s deemed to be behind what ails the Black and Gold, but he’s going to keep working to fix things until that day comes.

It was exactly the kind of response you would expect from a coach who's taken the B’s to the mountaintop in his 10 years running the team and will always be respected and loved in Boston long after his coaching days are done.

“How do I deal with all of the rumors and all that is going on? I didn’t feel like [Friday night] was the appropriate time for me to answer that after a game where you’re emotions are pretty high. I wasn’t getting into that, but to be honest with you my job is to coach the hockey club,” said Julien. “Am I worried about my job? No, I’m not. Because it’s not my job to worry about it. My job is to fix things, and my job is to coach this team and do everything I can. If I become one of the reasons that we’re not doing well, then management has to make that decision.

“It’s not my decision to make. I’m not quitting on this team. I’m not quitting on anybody. I’m not quitting on management. I’m ready and willing to go through the hard times, and I said that at the end of last year. If it’s deemed my fault, then I shouldn’t be here, and that’s all I can say.”

While the Bruins roster is clearly less than perfect and has a larger dose of youthful players than in years past, Julien also freely admitted that they should be held to a higher standard after proving many nights that they should be a playoff team. That’s the mandate from Bruins ownership and that’s the challenge that Julien has willingly accepted.

It’s also the challenge that’s falling a bit short now as they’ve lost three crushing games in a row and have fallen behind the Ottawa Senators in the playoff standings, with Toronto also right behind them holding six games in hand.

“If we’re going with what we said we were going with and there’s going to be some growing pains along the way, so be it,” said Julien. “I think we put ourselves in a position earlier in the year where we could all of a sudden believe that we’re a playoff team...absolutely. I still think we’re a playoff team. Whether we can do it or not we’ll find out at the end of the year, but my job is to do everything I can to get us into the playoffs and that’s what I’m going to do.

“As far as the rumors are concerned, they’re out there and I know that. But I don’t worry about it because worrying is wasting a lot of my time. And my time is spent trying to fix things here.”

Julien and the Bruins are headed to Pittsburgh for a Sunday matinee against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and will have two games against the red-hot Pens headed into an All-Star break weekend that must feel like a well-earned oasis for Julien at this point in the season. 

Sox hope to bring David Ortiz back to Boston for new role

Sox hope to bring David Ortiz back to Boston for new role

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- David Oritz’s time in Boston as a player is over. He continues to say there’s no Brett Favre-type comeback, no matter how many people ask him.

However, that doesn’t mean his time with the Red Sox is over.

Sam Kennedy, Tom Werner and Dave Dombrowski are heading down to the Dominican Republic to tour the team’s academy on the island to see what changes, if any, need to be made.

Ortiz will join them on those tours.

“He’s just a good guy to go to the Dominican with,” Kennedy said. “We thought it’d be great to catch up. Haven’t seen him since before the holidays.”

But the front office members intend to exchange more than just pleasantries and stories from the holiday season. One goal on the trip is to bring Ortiz back to the organization as an employee.

“Yeah that’s something on the agenda,” Kennedy said. “We’re gonna talk about what he may or may not want to do. He did say after the season let’s just talk in January. He was so overwhelmed and tired so it’s a good time to start those conversations.

“I know he has a lot of plans, broadcasting, a lot of businesses he’s involved with and we’ll see what he’s up to. But we hope to cement something so he’s a part of the organization.”

What role that is yet to be determined. Assuming he doesn’t pursue a broadcasting career.

“I truly don’t know what’s on his mind,” Kennedy said. “He’ll obviously be good at whatever he decides to do, but I would hope that we could create a role where he has influence in the baseball operations side, he has influence in marketing, as an ambassador. A lot of our alums we’ve found really enjoy working with young players. Pedro [Martinez] is a perfect example of that.

“So we’ll see what he’s interested in doing, but I have heard him talk about broadcasting in the past and I think he’d be great at it if he decides to do it.”