BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The Celtics’ vulnerability on the defensive boards has been exposed this week. The Jazz had 18 offensive rebounds on Wednesday (a 98-93 Celtic win) and the Nets grabbed 18 (15 in the first half) on Thursday in taking a 102-97 victory.
“I see that as improvement,” coach Doc Rivers said of the Celtics’ second-half rebounding. “We almost caught them and tied them in offensive rebounds — they had six more, which is too many. We didn’t make any adjustments. We just fought more, we got into bodies, we helped less, we didn’t allow guys to beat us off the dribble as much. And I thought we did a better job.”
Courtney Lee scored 13 points and led the Celtics with nine rebounds.
“Courtney just came out and played,” Rivers said. “He didn’t care whether he was starting or not starting, how many minutes, and who’s playing. He came out and played basketball. When he does that he’s a great basketball player, and I thought defensively he was our best player on the floor.”
Said Paul Pierce: “The last two nights, it’s been very alarming. It’s all about our effort, our grit, how bad we want the ball when it goes up. We have to do a better job in our effort. I think we have enough players to get the job done. Rebounds, we have to do a better job at that, can’t wait to turn it on when we get down.”
Not this time
Rajon Rondo arrived early for treatment for a sprained right ankle, saying he was “going to try to play.”
But 40 minutes before tip-off, Rondo was ruled out.
“I don’t actually know, I didn’t even ask,” Rivers said of the report of trainer Ed Lacerte. “I asked how he was doing. I pretty much assumed he wasn’t going to play because of the way he was walking this morning. We just did our little walk-through at the hotel with [Leandro Barbosa at point guard]. And we’ll try to play that way.”
Barbosa scored 16 points in relief of Rondo in Wednesday night’s loss to the Jazz. Rondo was injured as his shot was blocked by Mo Williams, and departed with 4:55 remaining in the third quarter.
The Celtics host the Raptors on Saturday, and no timetable has been set for Rondo’s return.
“I just think that’s up to Eddie,” Rivers said. “I try not to get involved in that kind of stuff. If he’s ready to play whenever we play again, he’ll play. If he’s not, he won’t. We’ll just keep moving.
Barbosa scored 17 points Thursday night, but dished out just two assists.
Collins gets call
Jason Collins made his Celtics debut in the first half, scoring on his first field goal attempt, and defending Brook Lopez. “Jason kind of stabilized us,” Rivers said . . . The Celtics dropped to 4-2 in games in which they have been outrebounded. “It should matter, and in the long run it will matter,” Rivers said of rebounding before Thursday night’s game. “Actually, I felt like we were starting to rebound a little bit better, but we got smashed [Wednesday], to say the least. And you’re not going to win it all if you don’t rebound better than that.”
Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at email@example.com.