During the regular season, the Cavaliers averaged 11.1 offensive boards; over the last two games, they'e tallied 15 and 12 respectively. Those numbers don't seem staggeringly out of character, but they have come at inopportune times for the Celtics when they desperately needed a stop. Tristan Thompson specifically has been the bane of Boston's rebounding woes with nine total. After Game 2, Crowder called Thompson Cleveland's "x-factor" and said if it weren't for the offensive rebounds, the series would be tied 1-1:
"He's just going to the glass. He knows he's not going to get too many touches. He's just going to the glass. Him and (Timofey) Mozgov are sitting in the paint. They got a couple of three-second calls, but I feel like they're just sitting in the paint and waiting for the ball to go up, and attack. So we have to focus a little bit more on those guys and take them out of the game."
Some of Cleveland's offensive rebounding are a product of the sheer volume of their three point shooting and subsequent misses. During the regular season, the Cavs were second in three point attempts at 27.5 per game and over two games, they've shot a tidy 20-of-60. Outside shots lead to long rebounds and Cleveland has the size to corral them, but Boston hasn't helped themselves either. Against the Celtics, many of Cleveland's offensive rebounds have come at the expense of Boston's defensive scheme on pick and rolls.
In screen situations, Boston usually ices picks toward the sidelines and has the screener's defender play zone in the lane to prevent penetration. It's worked all season and for the most part, it's contained LeBron and Kyrie from wreaking havoc in the paint.
Here's a good example. Zeller backs off of Mosgov to prevent LeBron from bulldozing into the lane. LeBron misses badly, but that frees up Mozgov to get a running start and crash the boards:
The contest on LeBron's floater is good and although the offensive rebound luckily falls into his lap after a Mosgov ricochet, I think the Celtics will live with that.
Here's another. Crowder has position on Mosgov for the rebound, but just doesn't corral the carom. This one is a little harder to swallow. In these PnRs, the dribbler's defender is just going to have to do a better job boxing out and/or chipping the big crashing the boards.
Then, there are the offensive rebounds that are just disheartening like Thompson's first of the night. You want Timofey Mosgov shooting that outside shot so early in the shot clock, especially with Thompson boxed out by Tyler Zeller and Jared Sullinger. Thompson pushes off with his right hand, Mosgov lowers his shoulder and barrels into Zeller
for an offensive foul dunk.
This next one is tough, too. Kelly Olynyk spots Kevin Love attacking the glass, but again, the missed three by Iman Shumpert goes long and over KO's head. He's got him boxed out but harumph, misses the board.
This is just another unlucky bounce, too. Zeller knows that LeBron is thinking 2-for-1 in this scenario, so he shows on LeBron's drive on Crowder and Mozgov crashes from the weak side. Maybe you can blame Brandon Bass here, but to me, it's just another tip by the basketball gods in Cleveland's favor.
I loved Jeff's title for last night's game recap: "The Fault in Our Lack of Stars." Star calls help you mostly in playmaking situations, but even on the offensive glass, you can get a call or two if you're LeBron James. Here, James is equally as aggressive as Evan Turner, but of course, LeBron gets the call at the Q.
Yesterday, Brad Stevens hinted at the possibility of changing the starting lineup. Kevin thinks that it could be Brandon Bass being swapped out for Kelly Olynyk so that Sullinger can be matched up against Thompson coming off the bench, but that could be a mistake. While Sully's Game 2 performance was the closest he's come to where he was before the injury, he wasn't exactly keeping TT off the glass. Twice he didn't find Thompson in the paint and that lead to second shot opportunities:
The playoffs are all about adjustments, so will the Celtics make a change in how they approach the defensive glass? Despite this article, a lot of this seems like an overreaction. Really, it's been the timing of the offensive rebounds that have taken the sails out of the Celtics. When you're trying to keep James and Irving out of the paint and you're flying around the perimeter contesting three point shots, there are just going to be more rebounding opportunities. Cleveland has tallied 40 second chance points, but to put things into perspective, Boston has 38. Offensive rebounding isn't exactly tipping the scales.