BOSTON (CBS) – People can complain about the Celtics rebounding inefficiencies until they’re blue in the face.
The Celtics, once again, rank at the bottom of the NBA when it comes to cleaning the glass, averaging a stagnant 37.4 rebounds per contest — good for 30th in the league.
But these numbers are nothing new with Boston, who have ranked near the bottom of the pack in terms of rebounding for the better part of the last five seasons.
It’s not that the Celtics aren’t concerned about their rebounding numbers. They want to improve on the glass, but it isn’t at the top of their list. They focus more on defense and transition basketball, which is why they let up the occasional offensive rebound — or dozen.
But come Wednesday night against the Timberwolves, they will be focusing on the glass. Or at least trying to keep Minnesota off it.
“[Minnesota is] challenging because their strength is our weakness. They are not a good rebounding team, they are an amazing rebounding team,” Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said of Wednesday night’s opponents.
Amazing is one word for it. The Wolves average an eye-popping 45.4 rebounds-per-game so far this season, the fourth most in the NBA.
Mix that with the Celtics struggles on the boards, and it could be a recipe for disaster come Wednesday night.
But the Celtics don’t see it that way.
“If we can get them out on transition, put the ball in the hole and defend them, we like our chances,” said captain Paul Pierce. “They’re a tough team when they’re going, just like any other team in the NBA.”
One player the Celtics will focus on is forward Kevin Love, who can do it all on the floor. Love rebounds with the best of them, averaging 14.6 boards per contest in his seven games this year. He’s pulled down a double-double in all but one those contests — a six-point, 10-rebound showing Tuesday night in Minnesota’s 105-88 win over the Philadelphia 76ers — which includes a mammoth 23-point, 24-rebound game against the Kings last week.
“Kevin Love’s one of the best rebounders of our era. I know that’s saying something early on in his career, but he is,” Rivers said of the young super star.
That high praise of Love doesn’t end with Rivers, or just on his ability to rebound. Pierce knows he and the Celtics will have their hands full with one of the most balanced players in the game.
“You have one of the great rebounders of this era in Kevin Love, so our main objective is to slow him down in that aspect,” said Pierce. “He’s shown he can dominate a game with his offensive rebounding and defensive rebounding. That’s definitely an emphasis.”
But his game-changing ability doesn’t stop on the boards.
“Love can rebound and stretch floor,” said Pierce. “That’s just a testament of his hard work; not wanting to be one-dimensional or just limiting himself to a couple of things. He’s shown he can be a power player on the boards or a finesse player the way he shoots the ball.”
While the Timberwolves rank at the bottom of the NBA in terms of scoring, averaging just 93.3 points, the Celtics know they cannot give them extra opportunities on the offensive or defensive glass.
The Celtics will get Rajon Rondo back on Wednesday night after the point guard finished serving his two-game suspension for an altercation he had with the Brooklyn Nets last week. Rondo said he watched the team during his two-game ban, as the C’s went 1-1 against the Blazers and Nets, and said they moved the ball very well without him.
While he’s excited to get back on the floor with his teammates, what Rondo wants to see most on Wednesday is a full-game effort — something the Celtics have struggled with in the early goings of the season.
“We’ve got to play together for 48 minutes. We’ve been playing together well for 20 minute here, maybe a quarter or a half there,” said Rondo. “Even when I was out, the team played great in short periods of spans, but we’ve got to put it together for 48 minutes and it’s going to take an entire team effort.”
That full effort will include a focus on rebounding — at least for one game.