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Celtics aren't that bad in the paint

Earlier today, Ben Rohrbach of WEEI's Green Street put together some condemning statistics about the Celtics and their poor performance in the key. Consider this the rebuttal.

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Spo

Sure, the numbers don't sound good:

The C's interior defense needs work. Vitor Faverani, Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk and Kris Humphries are allowing an average of 26.5 attempts at the rim, where opponents are shooting 52.8 percent.

The two biggest offenders, naturally, are rookies. Faverani is allowing 11 field goal attempts at the rim per game. Eleven! Per game! That's the fifth-worst number in the league. He's grabbed just 49.2 percent of his 14.8 rebound chances per game. The only other player with as many opportunities to snatch fewer than 50 percent is Al Jefferson, who hasn't played since aggravating an ankle injury on opening night.

Meanwhile, the opposition is shooting 76.5 percent at the rim against Olynyk. That's ridiculous. Only two bigs (Trevor Booker, DeMarre Carroll) are worse. And Olynyk snags fewer rebounds per chance than Faverani.

All things considered, it's not that bad.  Two of the Celtics first four games have come against the Detroit Pistons and Memphis Grizzlies, two teams that are markedly bigger than most in the NBA.  Everybody's going to have trouble against that three-headed monster of Josh Smith, Andre Drummond, and Greg Monroe and the dynamic duo of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.

While Rohrbach's numbers are all true, here are some other stats to chew on.  The Celtics are tied for 6th in the league in points allowed, but admittedly, that has a lot to do with pace.  However, according to, the Celtics rank 9th in defending the post up, 11th against cutters, and have only allowed 9 field goal attempts in the pick-and-roll.  The pack line defense was designed to limit penetration.  We're seeing fewer iced PnR's with big man defenders moving their feet, retreating backwards, and forcing teams to shoot from the perimeter.  So far, you could make the argument that it's working.

Sure, rebounding has been an issue, but a lot of that has to do with long rebounds from missed shots.  The goal of most defenses is to have your opponent take bad shots and there's nothing worse that the long 2.  So far, Boston ranks 14th in the league forcing teams to shoot from the mid-range, giving up 18.64 points a game (22.3 shots at a 40.4% clip).  Better still, the Celtics are one of the league leaders in defending the 3.  They're only allowing three points a game from the corner and 10.5 above the break.  That ranks the pitbulls on the perimeter 3rd in the NBA.

What has absolutely killed Boston so far are the defensive rotations, but it's getting better.  For those of you that didn't watch the Pistons game, Detroit murdered us near the basket when guys didn't rotate quick enough after the first pass and Monroe and Drummond found themselves wide open for dunks.  At the Palace on Sunday night, the Celtics gave up 14 field goal attempts and 9 makes on Detroit making the extra pass to a wide open cutter.  Against Milwaukee, the Bucks were 9 of 13 on similar shots.  Last night in Memphis against one of the best passing big men in Gasol, the C's cut that number down to 4 makes in 8 attempts.

It's a process, it's a process, it's a process and the team is trending towards the positive.

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