Ask Gary Celtics Mailbag: What to expect down the stretch

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The ‘bag is back. To kick things off and get you used to the routine, we’re posting a short version this week. The plan is to publish a new edition of the mailbag every Thursday from now until the summer, then publish one periodically until the season picks up again.

I’ve had the good fortune of being a part of’s Celtics team since 2005 and have had a lot of great conversations with fans in that time. It’s the back-and-forth that makes it fun. We’re free-form here, so don’t hesitate to drop a question in the box any time. You can also chat with me on Twitter or shoot me a scathing e-mail. Looking forward to it.


I am wondering why the Celtics have such a fundamental issue rebounding. I understand that we are smaller than most teams, but it simply appears that our guys don’t box out when push comes to shove. Isn’t this something that could easily be addressed? I think we would be a much more competitive team if we could grab a couple more offensive boards a game and a number more on the defensive end.
Ted, West New York, N.J.

It’s a good question, Ted. Let’s list the main reasons:

— They don’t have much height on the roster relative to other teams.
— Doc Rivers preaches getting back on defense rather than attacking the glass.
— Despite being in position, the Celtics don’t get as many rebounds as they should.

That last one is the most concerning. The Celtics rank 18th in the league at defensive rebounding percentage (73.3 percent), a measure of the percentage of rebounds players hold onto vs. the rebounds available to them. Last season they were 20th. That’s more concerning than a lack of offensive rebounding, because at least you can attribute the offensive boards to philosophy. Without a true center on the roster, the Celtics aren’t likely to be a rebounding force compared with teams like Memphis or Chicago. However, there’s room for improvement if they rebound as a team. From Courtney Lee to Paul Pierce to Brandon Bass to Chris Wilcox, each Celtic needs to make crashing the boards a priority. Rebounding is also an underrated area in which the Celtics miss Rajon Rondo.


At this point of the season and with our mediocre record (30-27) I think it would have been best if the Celtics started to rebuild and looked toward the upcoming draft. Some names I’m looking at are C.J. McCollum, Trey Burke, and Willie Cauley-Stein. Who do you think the Celtics could pick in the draft that could help our team in the future?
Dakota, Attleboro

People who know a lot more about these things than I do have the Celtics taking McCollum with the No. 17 pick in this year’s draft. The other two players you mentioned are projected a little higher, but it’s way too early for exactness considering we don’t yet know which college players will be in the draft. You mention two guards and a center. Strategy-wise it seems to make sense for the Celtics to draft big considering a backcourt of Rondo, Bradley, Lee, and Jason Terry looks fairly deep going forward. They’re going to need a replacement for Garnett at some point. In what is considered a weak draft, perhaps the Celtics can use one of their veterans as trade bait to bring back another player and also move up and take someone like Cauley-Stein, if that’s the direction they choose to go in.

Do we a GPS tracker on D.J. White’s papers? Also, why sign Terrence Williams over Dionte Christmas?
Riano, Canovanas, Puerto Rico

I know you submitted this question yesterday, but the papers came in Thursday, and White is with the Celtics and expected to be available Friday night. It’s doubtful he plays so soon, but at least the Celtics were able to put him through a practice.


Based on Brandon Bass’ performance so far, did the Celtics make a mistake in signing him to a long-term deal? I’ve been disappointed with his play so far. Is he tradeable with that contract? Thanks.
Gene, Quincy

Yeesh that’s a tough question. I just spent about 30 minutes here in the office watching highlight clips of Rondo’s passing, and Bass was getting a ton of layups and dunks. Rondo clearly made Bass better, and I don’t think Bass got enough credit for his play during last year’s postseason. He was the starting power forward on a team that made it to Game 7 of the conference finals, and no one talked about him. He guarded LeBron. He deserves some credit.

All of that being said, he has struggled this season, down to 7.7 points from 12.5. A cynic would say he’s got his contract now and isn’t playing as hard. That might be part of it. Cumulatively, the loss of Rondo hurts, and Jared Sullinger took some of Bass’s minutes. Bass is one of those guys who clearly plays better as a starter. He’s making $6.75 million next season and has another year on his deal after that, which isn’t necessarily prohibitive. There are worse contracts out there for less productive players.

How much of a contribution can we realistically expect from Terrence Williams and Jordan Crawford? Will they really make that much of a difference come playoff time?
Chaz, New York, N.Y.

Crawford is the kind of player who can win you a game out of nowhere in the playoffs with 12 points in a quarter. He’s also the kind of player who might drive you crazy in the meantime. I like Williams and the energy with which he plays. I envision a shortened shortened playoff rotation to be something like this: Bradley, Lee, Terry, Pierce, Garnett, Bass, Green, Wilcox. Both Crawford and Williams are only likely to see spot time.

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