TORONTO – Kelly Olynyk has a diverse skillset, one that has made him a fixture in the Boston Celtics’ rotation.
Boston has come to expect him to provide some offense and good playmaking, but lately he has given them what they desperately need – rebounds.
While this is still Boston’s greatest weakness, the recent play of Olynyk when it comes to the boards provides a glimmer of hope that maybe just maybe, rebounding won’t be such hindrance to this group.
Boston (37-20) will certainly need that tonight as they take on the Toronto Raptors, a team that got a lot stronger with the addition of Serge Ibaka – another really good rebounder – from Orlando shortly before the trade deadline.
As for Olynyk, he attributes his recent success on the boards as just being more active once the ball is in the air.
In addition, he’s tired of hearing about how bad the Celtics have been on the boards.
They come into tonight’s game ranked among the league’s bottom-10 in just about every rebounding statistical category of note.
* Rebounds per game (41.2, 28th in the NBA)
* Rebound percentage (.479, 27th)
* Defensive rebound percentage (.747, 29th)
“We’ve struggled rebounding all year,” Olynyk said. “I’ve focused my game of late to help shore up that. It’s just a matter of being more active, put your work in early, get the initial contact and get guys off.”
In Boston’s last eight games, Olynyk has averaged 7.0 rebounds per game while still scoring at a decent 13.6 points per game clip off the bench.
For the season, he’s averaging 9.5 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.
Of course, you can’t count on Olynyk to take on the lion’s share of the rebounding for the Celtics.
But to his credit, he’s finding a way to do a better job on the glass of late compared to how he has fared overall this season.
And by doing so, it gives Celtics Nation hope that the team’s front office made the right decision to keep this group intact rather than go out and trade for a rebounding big man.
Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, has expressed concern that adding a player whose strength was rebounding only might do more harm than good due to its impact on an offense that ranks among the league’s best this season.
Olynyk echoed similar sentiments.
“We’re second in the East now, a couple games back and on a good roll with great chemistry. Everybody likes each other, playing for each other,” Olynyk told CSNNE.com. “That’s a rarity sometimes. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it."