Celtics

Celtics have been on rebound – literally – since losing first two

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Celtics have been on rebound – literally – since losing first two

BOSTON – This run that the Boston Celtics have been on has been nothing short of amazing for so many reasons.
 
For starters, no one saw this coming, not even the most die-hard Celtics fan.
 
It appeared to be even less of a possibility after Gordon Hayward’s left ankle injury which is expected to keep him out of action for the rest of the season.
 
After dropping the season opener when Hayward got hurt and the game against Milwaukee the following night, Boston has since found its groove and has been on the rebound – literally – ever since.

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Boston’s work on the boards has been yet another surprise for a Celtics team that for years has been among the league’s worst rebounding clubs.
 
The Celtics have finished among the bottom-10 in rebounding percentage each of the last three seasons, a trend Boston seems poised to end after what has been a strong start on the boards.
 
Boston has out-scored and out-rebounded each of its last seven opponents. They have only had one streak longer than that in the last 30 years, and that was when they did it 11 straight games in December of 2008.
 
But as they prepare to host the Los Angeles Lakers tomorrow night, several factors will come into play as Boston (9-2) tries to extend its league-best winning streak to 10 in a row.
 
Among those factors?
 
Rebounding, of course.
 
To say that Boston has done a better on the glass doesn’t do justice to how impressive their work around the rim has been this season.
 
Rebounding percentage is far more telling about how good a team is on the glass, than just about any other rebounding-related statistic.
 
Boston has a rebounding percentage of .533 which trails only Portland (.534).

As you delve deeper into those rebounding numbers, you quickly find one of the primary sources to the team’s top-ranked defense is their defensive rebounding percentage.
 
The Celtics rank 4th in the league in this category with a .814 percentage and by the 47.5 rebounds per game that Boston snatches, that ranks as the fifth-highest average.
 
No matter how you crunch the numbers, it adds to a Celtics team that has been an absolute beast on the boards this season – something that seemed highly unlikely considering the team didn’t add a player known to be a significant rebounder.
 
Boston’s success on the glass stems from the fact that they have significantly more length in the lineup which helps them defensively and when it comes to rebounding.
 
Jaylen Brown is 6-foot-7 playing the shooting guard position that was handled by 6-2 Avery Bradley.  At the point, Kyrie Irving is 6-3 and he has replaced a fellow all-star, 5-9 Isaiah Thomas. The defensive void left by Jae Crowder and his muscular 6-6 frame at small forward has been filled by 6-8 Jayson Tatum who also has a 7-0 wingspan. And when 6-10 Aron Baynes starts, he provides significantly more muscle at center than Amir Johnson did last season and his ability to contest shots by way of the rule of verticality, helps himself as well as his teammates swoop in and grab a large share of rebounds.
 
Just about every starter in the Celtics’ lineup now has better length than their predecessor which has made defense and rebounding more manageable for Boston.
 
And maybe more important, provided the Celtics with just what they have needed in order to continue building off the success of last season’s squad by creating a club with a different identity, an identity that’s heavily rooted in strong work on the boards.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics back in win column

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics back in win column

0:41 - The Celtics returned to their winning ways with a 118-103 victory over the Orlando Magic. Tom Giles, Phil Perry and Rob “Hardy” Poole break down the win.

6:58 - Tom Giles and Hardy discuss the Bruins’ four-game winning streak and how the success of Anton Khudobin has helped keep the team afloat.

11:39 - Is the Patriots' Week 12 matchup with the Dolphins a trap game? Tom Giles, Phil Perry and Hardy discuss where Miami ranks among NFL teams and how the Patriots should approach the game.

17:07 - With Black Friday upon us, the Boston Sports Tonight crew discusses what big-ticket item they would choose to buy for any Boston sports team. 

 

Morris out, Brown questionable for Pacers game Saturday

Morris out, Brown questionable for Pacers game Saturday

BOSTON – Boston made strengthening their depth at the wing position a priority during the offseason.

Well, that depth will be put to the test with the possibility of at least one and maybe two of their top wing players being out for Saturday’s game at Indiana.

Shortly after Boston’s 118-103 win over Orlando on Friday night, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens announced that Marcus Morris (left knee) would not travel with the team for Saturday’s game against the Pacers.

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Also, Jaylen Brown will be attending the funeral of his best friend (Trevin Steede) in Georgia on Saturday and isn’t sure if he’ll be back with the team in time for Saturday’s game.

“My intention is to make it back. If I can, I’ll definitely be playing,” Brown said. “But we’ll see.”

The absence of Brown would be a huge blow for the Celtics.

Boston only returned four players from last season’s team, none of whom have improved their overall game as much as Brown did during the offseason.

He came into the season focused on being a lock-down defender.

But Gordon Hayward’s left ankle injury was a game-changer for all the Celtics, including Brown.

Not only would Brown be charged with being an elite defender, but Boston now needed the second-year wing player to become more of a scoring threat.

And to Brown’s credit, he has risen to the challenge.

In 20 games (all starts) this season, Brown has averaged 15.9 points per game which is second on the team to Kyrie Irving (22.9). In addition, Brown’s defense has been among the keys to Boston’s 17-3 start which is the best record in the NBA thus far this season.

His defensive rating of 95.0 is fifth among players to appear in at least 10 games this season, and tops among all second-year players. And of the four players ahead of him, two – Aron Baynes and Marcus Smart – are teammates.

But just like the Celtics gave Isaiah Thomas all the time he needed in dealing with the death of his sister right before the playoffs last season, a similar approach has been taken with Brown which he is admittedly appreciative of the organization for doing.

“Brad (Stevens) has been great in this process,” Brown said. “Just somebody to talk to, allowing me to deal with it in the best way our family and their family feels we can deal with it. He’s been great; we’ll see how it goes. Hopefully I can make it to Indiana; if not, I just have to re-group with my family and I’ll see you guys next game (against Detroit on Monday).”

While there's a chance that Brown will play against Indiana, the same can not be said for Morris who is definitely out.

Morris, who missed the first eight games of the season with left knee soreness, has been on a minutes restriction all season in addition to not being allowed to play in back-to-back games.

Following Friday’s game, Morris said the knee feels good but he understands the need to be cautious.

“It’s frustrating,” said Morris who acknowledged the decision was made by the coaching and medical staff. “I’m a competitor, so I want to be out there.”

He added, “Like I said, at this point I pretty much don’t have control over it when I’m playing. It’s a long season. I just want to be ready for June.”

With Morris out and Brown potentially out as well, the Celtics will be extremely thin and inexperienced at the wing position. Look for Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes to be in the starting lineup if Brown is out along with Morris.

Also, Stevens will likely use Terry Rozier and first-year forward Semi Ojeleye more in addition to increased spot-duty for another rookie, Abdel Nader. On Friday, Rozier had a career-high 23 points while Ojeleye and Nader had seven and three points, respectively.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE