The Boston Celtics once again overcome rebounding in order to get a victory against the Miami Heat
Against the Miami Heat on Sunday night, the Boston Celtics showed that it doesn’t matter if you can’t rebound if you don’t let your opponent shoot.
After scraping out an extremely important victory against the Hornets, considering the log jam that is the Eastern Conference, the Celtics took their talents to South Beach. As they put on their oversized headphones and watched game tape on the flight down, I’m sure that even if there was no turbulence they were all reaching for their sick baggies as they watched Hassan Whiteside.
If you are unfamiliar with Whiteside, he is seven feet tall, he has a wingspan of seven foot seven, he appeared out of nowhere from his time in the Chinese league. and I’m pretty sure the Heat get him to attach the net to the rim pregame without the need of a ladder. He is a truly frightening monster that is rarely sighted outside of his natural habitat, the paint, and if you happen to enter his home don’t be surprised if you are sent flying as he swats the balls into the stands or grabs a rebound.
Now it is well documented that the Celtics’ biggest weakness is rebounding. They are dead last in the league in defensive rebounding percentage at 74.3 percent and oppositions around the league have been feasting on second chance points, scoring 14.6 per contest. On paper, the Heat and their gigantic big man did not seem like a great match up.
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Whiteside by himself averages an extremely impressive 14.7 rebounds per game, whereas the Celtics’ leading rebounder at a measly 7.6 per game is Avery Bradley, a 6 foot 1 guard that would struggle to scratch Whiteside’s chin. In fact, if Amir Johnson or Kelly Olynyk did happen to get some sleep on the plane I’m quite sure they had nightmares of a monstrous creature pulling off rebounds as they tugged on his pants like a child wanting a lollipop.
The Celtics, however, were able to be the proverbial David in this contest against Goliath rebounding by ratcheting up their defense. The men in green flew around the court, they jumped passing lanes and they consistently harassed the man with the ball. They used their speed, agility and their talented group of on the ball defenders to make this poor matchup a positive one. Jae Crowder led the charge with five steals and in total the Celtics had 13 take aways and were able to force 22 turnovers from the usually sure handed Heat.
Miami are currently eight in the league, averaging only 12.8 turnovers per game which makes the Celtics performance even more impressive. The Celtics still lost the rebounding battle to the Heat 42 to 37 and Whiteside by himself had 17 including 13 in the third quarter alone. The boys from Beantown also allowed the Heat to shoot an extremely efficient 52.2 percent and Goran Dragic was able to practically score at will, but by forcing so many turnovers it didn’t matter. Thanks to their dynamic defense the Celtics were able to shoot an incredible 21 more shots than their opposition. The Heat were only allowed to put up 69 shots on Sunday night which is barely any at all compared to the 98 shots put up by the Hornets only two nights earlier.
So, whether it was Brad Stevens’ game plan, a heated speech by their new big man Al Horford, the sight of Thomas’ pal Floyd Mayweather courtside or simply the warm weather and Cuban food the, Celtics must be congratulated for coming together and proving that it doesn’t matter if you can’t rebound if the other team doesn’t get to shoot. If the Celtics are to continue their rise up the Eastern Conference ladder they need to keep up this defensive intensity and continue to steal victories.