It was one sequence among hundreds, but in many ways it exemplified the Celtics' entire season.
With Tuesday's game in New York tied and the clock winding down in the second quarter, Knicks guard
Of all of Boston's problems this season, the lack of rebounding is perhaps the most puzzling. In 2008, the Celtics won a championship with a top-10 rebounding unit. This season, with the same starting five and a sizable second unit fronted by
Nearly everyone's numbers have declined. Garnett's drop-off has been the steepest, from a team-high 9.2 rebounds in the championship year to 7.4 now, his lowest mark since his rookie season.
"We don't get rebounds out of space like we used to," coach
Said Perkins: "I don't think it has to do with talent. It has more to do focus. It bothers me. At the end of the day, I can only do my job and go from there."
Rivers has tried different things to address the problem. After not emphasizing rebounding often in training camp ("We've been so good for so long that it wasn't our primary focus," Rivers said), the Celtics work on it regularly during practices. To protect the basket more, Rivers and assistant
But one theory on the rebounding woes, one that passes the eye test, is that Boston isn't giving maximum effort on every possession. Active big men kill them: Cleveland's
"They don't box out," said one player who faced the Celtics recently. "They jump and hope it comes to them."
And Boston's perimeter players often get caught flat-footed. Several times during last week's loss to Houston, Perkins growled at teammates for not picking up long rebounds.
"I just don't think it's an actual thought to go out there and go after every single shot," Williams said. "Guys kind of rely on other guys or expect the guy to make the shot. Guys just aren't crashing the boards. We have to make it more of a priority. We talk about it all the time. We can talk about it, but we actually have to do it, too."
With the playoffs fast approaching, Rivers acknowledges that the Celtics need a team effort to stay competitive on the glass.
"We have to be