BOSTON – The scouting report on the Celtics appears to be clear: pound the ball down low.
Without Kevin Garnett patrolling the paint, the Celtics are relatively small in there, and teams are doing all they can to exploit the C’s major weakness.
To the naked eye, Boston is getting killed in the paint. Since March 23, without Garnett in the lineup, the Celtics have allowed 135 converted field goals at the rim, the most in that span, and a total of 322 points in the paint – third most in the NBA, according to NBA.com.
But believe it or not, Boston is weathering the storm down low. In that time, opponents have taken 244 shots at the rim, most in the NBA. But the C’s are keeping opponents to a 55.3-percent success rate from that spot – second-lowest in the NBA. That’s an impressive number to show with such a high volume.
The reason for all those attempts? Boston is allowing too many offensive rebounds, which have turned into 121 second-chance points – you guessed it, tops in the NBA.
On Wednesday night, Detroit grabbed 25 offensive rebounds, scored 26 second-chance points, and 58 points in the paint. The C’s still managed to get a big win, somehow.
“They out-rebounded us, they pushed us around,” Paul Pierce said. “The one constant I say we can have regardless if our shots fall is our defensive rebounding and we didn’t just do a good job in that department [Wednesday].”
Boston looks to be without Garnett again Friday vs. the Cavaliers and possibly Sunday against the Wizards. Those two teams will most likely look to do damage down low, but they also each have superstar point guards.
Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving went off for 40 points the last time he played the C’s, and John Wall has the Wizards playing their best basketball of the season.
Wall is averaging 17.5 points and 7.7 assists this season, and the Wizards are 23-19 since his return.
The C’s will counter with defensive ace Avery Bradley, who knows these games are important.
“Every single night we’re going against good teams,” Bradley said. “We can’t have up and downs throughout the whole game. We have to continue to play the right way the whole game, and that’s what we have to do when we play the Cavs because they’re a very good team. They have some good young players.”