By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- In the smallest of small sample sizes, it's evident the Boston Celtics have a rebounding problem.
The Celtics were outrebounded 55-36 in their Thursday night loss to the Bulls, with Chicago taking 16 more shots than the C's throughout the contest. The Bulls' 18 offensive boards led to 18 second-chance points, explaining how the Celtics lost to a team that shot 39 percent despite hitting half of their shots themselves.
"[Rebounding] is the No. 1 thing," head coach Brad Stevens said after Thursday night's 105-99 loss. "That's something that we've talked a lot about. We've got to get better at it."
After watching his squad get crushed on the boards in the first half, Stevens switched things up at the break and inserted Tyler Zeller in the starting five in place of Amir Johnson. The move seemed to energize the team, as they erased a 57-49 deficit at the half and briefly took a 69-68 lead midway through the quarter. Zeller scored six points and grabbed three boards in his third quarter run, temporarily helping keep Robin Lopez off the glass.
But that one-point edge was Boston's only lead of the evening, and it lasted all of 12 seconds. The newfound energy was short lived as the Bulls regained control and had a double digit lead midway through the final frame.
The 1-1 Celtics have now surrendered 33 offensive rebounds in their first two games, allowing their opponents to score 41 second-chance points.
Rebounding will be an issue for the C's all season, as ESPN Boston's Chris Forsberg notes they're the shortest team in the NBA at an average height of 78.2 inches -- a full inch shorter than the league average of 79.3 inches. That helps explain why the C's have pulled down just 67.3 percent of available defensive rebounds in their first two games, but there's no clear solution in sight. While the return of seven-footer Kelly Olynyk in the near future should help, he's not exactly a man known for his rebounding skills.
The bottom line is the Celtics have to give their best effort every night on the glass. Their biggest weakness has to be their biggest focus. Had they done a little bit better at underneath the basket with the likes of Lopez, who finished with six offensive rebounds, they would have had a shot at stealing a win on the road Thursday night.
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