I've always thought of this team as being tough. They have a snarl and a swagger about them that makes me remember fondly the days of heading to the Finals and socking people in the mouth on the way there. We lost some of that toughness when Perkins was traded and perhaps father time (and roster turnover) has eroded more of it than we'd like to admit. This isn't something that can be easily quantified, but Steve Bulpett takes a swing at it - focusing on rebounding (which is, of course, a reflection of hustle - if not grind it out toughness).
The maddening part of this is that the Celts are shooting 45.6 percent and holding their opponents to 41.7 percent from the floor. But when it comes time to get physical and get the ball, they falter. And the general lack of consistent toughness translates through one of the game’s basic truths: The team playing harder gets the benefit of the calls. So when you consider opponents have 80 more rebounds than the Celtics this season, it won’t surprise you to know that foes have taken 73 more free throws. And the board numbers are even more concerning when you take into account the aforementioned 41.7 percent. That would seem to mean more chances for rebounds when the Celts should, at least in theory, be in better position than the opponent to get the ball. But the problem is, with the glass disadvantage, the C’s have also taken 73 fewer field goal attempts. "We’re not going to win if we don’t change that," coach Doc Rivers said. "There’s no way to sugarcoat that."
That's not good news because looking up and down this roster I can't tell you who is going to step up and start pulling down rebounds at a higher rate.