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Irish Coffee: Does poor Celtics offensive rebounding matter?

01.12.11 at 11:48 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

Despite losing two straight games, if you look at the Celtics’ statistics, there’s not much they’re doing poorly over the course of this season. They’ve made more field goals than their opponents while taking fewer shots. They’ve dished out more assists, snatched more steals, swatted more blocks and committed fewer turnovers.

In fact, only one number sticks out. The Celtics have been out-rebounded overall by four. More specifically, they’ve been out-boarded on the offensive glass by 97 and rank last this year in the category that Red Auerbach called “the hardest single phase of basketball.”

When you consider the fact that the C’s are shooting a league-leading 50.2 percent from the field — leaving fewer chances for themselves — that number is less glaring than at first glance, but does it matter at all? C’s head coach Doc Rivers doesn’t think so.

“I’m not a big believer in offensive rebounds,” said Rivers. “I think if you if you get back every single time and not get offensive rebounds, you probably save more points in the long run. So, that’s not a concern.”

Anyone who watched Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals — when the Lakers out-rebounded the Celtics 23-8 on the offensive end — might disagree with Rivers on that contention. While fans often rely on emotions for their arguments, Rivers can generally point to statistics to back up his statements, so let’s look to the numbers.

Here are the top-five NBA teams record-wise with their rank in offensive rebounds per game in parentheses:

  • 1. Spurs (15th)
  • 2. Heat (25th)
  • 3. Celtics (30th)
  • 4. Lakers (5th)
  • 5. Mavericks (29th)

Here are the bottom-five NBA teams record-wise with their rank in offensive rebounds per game in parentheses:

  • 26. Wizards (8th)
  • 27. Nets (17th)
  • 28. Kings (3rd)
  • 29. Timberwolves (1st)
  • 30. Cavaliers (28th)

Here are the top-five shooting teams with their rank in offensive rebounds per game in parentheses:

  • 1. Celtics (30th)
  • 2. Heat (25th)
  • 3. Mavericks (29th)
  • 4. Suns (19th)
  • 5. Hawks (27th)

Here are the bottom-five shooting teams with their rank in offensive rebounds per game in parentheses:

  • 26. Kings (3rd)
  • 27. Pacers (20th)
  • 28. Nets (17th)
  • 29. Cavaliers (28th)
  • 30. Bucks (11th)

Here are the top-five defensive teams with their rank in offensive rebounds per game in parentheses:

  • 1. Celtics (30th)
  • 2. Heat (25th)
  • 3. Hornets (22nd)
  • 4. Bucks (11th)
  • 5. Magic (24th)

Here are the bottom-five defensive teams with their rank in offensive rebounds per game in parentheses:

  • 26. Raptors (7th)
  • 27. Knicks (23rd)
  • 28. Warriors (4th)
  • 29. Timberwolves (1st)
  • 30. Suns (19th)

So, what in the hell does all this mean? Well, it’s safe to draw a number of conclusions from these statistics:

  • Three of the NBA’s best teams rank among the bottom six offensive rebounding clubs, and three of the league’s worst teams rank among the top eight offensive rebounding clubs — supporting Rivers’ argument.
  • Four of the NBA’s top shooting teams are among the worst six offensive rebounding teams — further supporting Rivers’ argument.
  • Three of the NBA’s top defensive teams rank bottom-seven in offensive rebounding, and three of the league’s worst defensive teams rank top-seven in offensive rebounding — pretty much nailing down Rivers’ argument.
  • While it’s almost impossible to shoot well and rebound well on the offensive end, it’s possible to shoot poorly and be a poor offensive team (that’s you, Cleveland).
  • The Lakers rank 21st in shooting percentage and fifth in offensive rebounding while still ranking 10th defensively. Essentially, if you keep them from cleaning the offensive glass, you can beat them — handily.
  • The Celtics and Heat rank 1-2 in shooting and defense. Right now, they’re the two best teams in the NBA.

So, Rivers’ contention makes all the sense in the world when you look at the statistics, but the C’s coach also said “overall our rebounding numbers are Ok with us.” That’s a bit strange, since the defensive rebounding numbers don’t look too good, either. The Celtics hold their opponents to 43.9 percent shooting (5th-best in the NBA) but they also only grab 30.9 defensive rebounds (17th) while allowing 10.2 offensive rebounds per game (23rd).

Just as in Game 7 against the Lakers, Kendrick Perkins can’t get back soon enough, because even the addition of the O’Neal “brothers” hasn’t helped shore up a concern for the Celtics entering this season.

NATE ROBINSON RETIRES … FROM DUNK CONTEST

Nate Robinson is retiring from the dunk contest. Up next? A game of D-O-N-K-E-Y, perhaps? (AP)

As we pointed out here last week, Nate Robinson — the two-time defending champion — will not defend his NBA slam dunk title. Robinson has won three slam dunk titles in all (2006, ’09 & ’10).

Well, Robinson opened up to both NBA.com and The Globe about his absence from a slam dunk roster that includes Blake Griffin, Brandon Jennings, Serge Ibaka and JaVale McGee. Highlights:

  • On whether the retirement was his choice or the NBA’s: “I don’t know what the NBA’s doing, man. You’ve got to ask them. I’m the king around here. I’m going to retire on top.”
  • On what’s next: “I’m getting older, man, that’s all it is. I’m trying to conquer something else now. Maybe the 3-point contest one day if I shoot a high enough percentage, skills competition, H-O-R-S-E. You never know.’’
  • On who’ll win: “They set it up for Blake to win it. … It’s all set up. But we’ll see. I’m not saying he can’t dunk, because he can. Though we’ll see how it goes. Hopefully the guys that are in there with him will give him some competition and put on a show. Because that’s all it’s for – it’s a show.”
  • On how he’d judge: “If I can do it, I’m not giving good points. That’s how I would judge it. You’ve got to do something spectacular. Even if it’s like something somebody has done, you have to make it look even better. Add your own little flair.”
  • On adding soundtracks: “They should bring back the music. Back in the day, when other guys dunked, they used to play music and get guys kind of hyped. Now they’ve taken away from that. You should be able to play whatever song you want to get you hyped.”

CHARGES AGAINST MARQUIS DANIELS’ STEPFATHER DROPPED

I’m not sure if you’ve followed this story or not, but it’s a bizarre one. During Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Magic last season, Willie Buie — the stepfather of Celtics guard Marquis Daniels — was Tased and arrested for resisting arrest with violence.

On Tuesday, the charges were finally dropped, according to the Orlando Sun-Sentinel, based on the following facts:

  • Officer Gary Kleier testified he “merely observed the defendant refusing to leave and that he did not see any violent activity from the defendant.”
  • Officer Brandon Tabaczynski also could not describe “any overt acts of violence or threats towards the officers.”
  • Officer Armando Socarras testified that Buie “did not strike at him and merely tensed up and clenched his fists.”

Good thing those guys arrested him, huh? It only took seven months for the  courts to sort this one out. That’s got to be an all-time record. As Buie’s attorney, David Bigney, said: “The family is happy that this is behind them.”

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee or a future mailbag? Send an e-mail to brohrbach@weei.com or a Twitter message to @brohrbach.)

Read More: Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Marquis Daniels, Nate Robinson
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