Fresh off a loss last night to the lowly Kings bringing the Cs back down to earth for the moment, let’s take a peek at some areas where The Green are far from polished and effective on a consistent basis.As we stated in Part I how the Celts are actually very effective offensively (notwithstanding the clunker last night with poor 3PT shooting and lower assist numbers), there are some very notable areas clearly holding back the Celtics from taking that next step at the moment.
Here are a few key areas of focus and the league ranking for the Celtics:
Total Rebounding % (Rebound Rate) – 29th
Defensive Rebounding % – 29th
Steals Per Defensive Play – 19th
Personal Fouls Per Defensive Play – 14th
Defensive Efficiency – 18th
Opponent Fast Break Efficiency – 8th
Opponent Effective Field Goal % – 8th
Defense – Overall the Celts are essentially middle of the pack defensively ranking 18th in Efficiency. The Celtics are believe or not actually rather good at holding back opponent fast break points and limiting the easy shots of other players (ranking 8th in Opponent Effective Field Goal %). Yes it is frustrating to see them lose games 118-110 but in the grand scheme of things they may not be that far off defensively.They can get much better generating steals (Golden State as a reference is ranked #1) and improve overall but to me that is not the area that causes one to panic.
Rebounding – The Celtics stink at rebounding. They rank almost dead last in the league in Total Rebounding % and Defensive Rebounding %. Although they have been improving modestly the data for the entire season is pretty clear.
So, what gives?Playing without Avery Bradley has certainly hurt as he is both an excellent defender and rebounder especially for his position. However, when AB returns that will not vault the Celts to the top half of the league in rebounding.
Let’s take a look at some Advanced Stats in the form of Defensive Rebounding Percentage (an estimate of the percent of available defensive rebounds a player grabbed while he was on the floor). This is perhaps the key stat holding back the overall defense because of all the easy buckets surrendered on second and third chances.
Here are the numbers for Defensive Rebounding Percentage for the guys that get the vast majority of the minutes:
Isaiah Thomas – 7. 0
Marcus Smart – 10. 5
Jae Crowder – 16. 3
Al Horford – 18. 0
Avery Bradley – 18. 6
Amir Johnson – 16. 3
Kelly Olynyk – 19. 8
Jonas Jerebko – 17. 3
Terry Rozier – 15. 8
Jaylen Brown – 14. 2
Tyler Zeller – 17. 9
Gerald Green – 15. 6
To put this in context the player ranked 20th in the NBA currently has a percentage of 25. 5 (Joakim Noah). So, we know for sure the Celts do not have an elite defensive rebounder which comes as no surprise to anyone.
What can the team do right now to fix this?Some players need to step it up. Avery Bradley has done more than what is reasonably expected from him and his return will help. Guys like Horford, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Amir Johnson, and Jerebko simply need to get more efficient banging the defensive glass.Modest improvement here will naturally improve the overall defensive numbers.
Then of course there is the always discussed and analyzed Celtics Trade. The rumors tend to always surround a “star player” that tends to be an offensive powerhouse, but for all we know Danny Ainge is quietly trying to find the perfect fit to help the rebounding while NOT dinging the offensive productivity.
How much progress they make with rebounding will likely strongly correlate with if they are playing in late May or even June.