Despite all their success during this nine-game winning streak, one of the Celtics' glaring weaknesses recently has been rebounding. Opponents have dominated the battle on the glass, sometimes staying close in games solely because of their ability to generate second-chance opportunities off of offensive rebounds.
How much better was Boston's effort on the boards Thursday night in a 104-102 win over the Wizards? It was record breaking.
The Wizards didn't record a single individual rebound in the second quarter -- the first time that's happened in the seven years STATS Inc. has tracked such statistics -- and Boston outscored Washington, 37-22, in the period to open a 14-point halftime advantage. For the game, Boston boasted a 40-34 advantage on the glass.
"Washington is one of the top offensive rebounding teams in the league and we really had to focus on that tonight," said Celtics captain Paul Pierce, who grabbed five rebounds for the game. "Brendan Haywood is a prime example of their rebounding excellence. Coming into this game we knew that rebounding was a point a emphasis, so we came in and got the job done.”
Added Ray Allen: "Rebounding has been one of our biggest focuses and one of our biggest weaknesses. We made a better effort tonight and we still could do better.”
Washington was able to generate some key second-chance efforts late in the game, most notably putbacks by Andray Blatche and Jamison that twice tied the game over the final 2:23.
"We [rebounded for] the first three quarters," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "They got two big ones down the stretch, so we need to take that away, but I thought overall we had pretty good rebounding focus. Again, it’s not the end product of the rebound, it’s stopping the ball penetration. Getting back on defense, so we have our normal matchups and then everybody can block out. But if we don’t do that they can take advantage of us.
"It's amazing what you can do when you focus on something. That's a hell of a rebounding team, as you know. We had a big focus on keeping them off the glass."
The Wizards finished with eight offensive rebounds, but being shut out in the second quarter didn't sit well with coach Flip Saunders.
"We had bad shot selection at the time," he said. "Our guys didn’t have the opportunity to get in offensive rebounding position."