Celtics Notebook

Give them failing marks on these boards

By Gary Washburn
Globe Staff / February 7, 2010

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As the Celtics prepare for another nationally televised showdown game today - facing the Magic for the final time this season - they again will attempt to camouflage a weakness that has burned them in several games this season.

The Celtics are 29th out of 30 teams in rebounding, grabbing an average of 38.8 per game. Last season, they finished eighth as their big men, as well as their little men, hit the boards with vigor.

This season, they are not as aggressive on the glass; six of their seven front-line players are averaging fewer rebounds than they did in 2008-09.

Although the trade deadline is approaching, the Celtics feel strongly that they have enough big men to improve their rebounding without bringing in another body.

“I don’t think we need a rebounder, I think we need to rebound,’’ said coach Doc Rivers. “It’s amazing, we’ve added length to our team but everybody’s numbers are down.

“If you want to be a great team, you have to rebound better.’’

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge agreed, saying that frontcourt help is not necessary, especially with Shelden Williams and Glen Davis unable to consistently get playing time.

“I think rebounding is a concern, but I don’t think it’s any one individual,’’ Ainge said. “The guys that we have are proven rebounders and they have to do a better job of rebounding.

“We were one of the best rebounding teams the last two years, and right now, we’re not. We’re not rebounding the ball well enough to be a championship team.’’

Ainge said the issue is effort and execution.

“I think it’s the same thing with our defense and the same thing with our offense,’’ he said. “It has nothing to do with what we’re doing, it’s nothing to do with the people, it’s just making an effort to do it.

“I know our guys can rebound. I have seen them do it.’’

The Magic are fifth in the league in rebounding, thanks largely to Dwight Howard, who today will engage in another battle with Kendrick Perkins, who has to be careful about early foul trouble.

Rivers said he is comfortable with Rasheed Wallace and his historically strong defense against Howard, but Wallace has to stay on the court.

“I think Rasheed will fill that role,’’ said Rivers. “I just don’t like him being in foul trouble so early because it does affect your rotation.’’

Pierce feels ready
Paul Pierce, who missed the past two games with a mid-foot strain, practiced yesterday and said he is ready. Rivers, though, said Pierce will be a game-time decision. “It’s a lot better than it was yesterday,’’ said Pierce. “It’s improving, not quite 100 percent, but it’s good enough for me to play on. I felt I could have went last game. I am really ready to go, if that’s what you want to hear.’’ Meanwhile, swingman Marquis Daniels also practiced and is also a game-time decision. Daniels has missed 29 games with a torn ligament in his left thumb . . . Rivers had a sleep doctor speak with the players about sleep habits in preparation for the team’s weeklong Western swing following the All-Star break. Rivers even encouraged the players to spend the break on the West Coast to get accustomed to the time difference.

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