The Boston Celtics had the best record in the Eastern Conference and reached the conference finals a year ago even though they ranked near the bottom the league in rebounding.

An average of 42 per game was good enough to tie for 26th place.

Al Horford tied for 41st in the league with a team-leading 6.8 per game, and guard Avery Bradley was second at 6.1, a glaring weak point and an area that needs improvement in a season that begins a week from Tuesday.

After wholesale changes to the roster – including offensive standouts Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward – there are only four returning players. Will the Celtics be better on the glass?

“Everybody asks the rebounding question and rightfully so the way we rebounded last year,” said Coach Brad Stevens, whose team averaged 32.9 defensive rebounds and just 9.1 offensive.

Newcomer Marcus Morris figures to spend a lot of time at power forward, and Aron Baynes will get minutes at center. They are candidates to help make the Celtics a better rebounding team, and Stevens is expecting to get a boost from Jaylen Brown and rookie Jayson Tatum.


“We’ve got to control the long rebounds a little bit better,” said Stevens. “But we’re pretty long and pretty agile. We rebounded in the lane really well in the first week of practice.”

Baynes will start games for the Celtics against taller teams. In the preseason opener against Charlotte he matched up with Dwight Howard, which freed up Horford to play power forward where he was effective.

“Very excited to have him on board,” said Horford. “He makes everything a lot easier for us, for me. It’s nice to have him in there battling. That’s what he does best. A lot of times I have to do that with the group. When he’s in there with me, I’m going to take advantage of that.”

Baynes has never played more than 16 minutes a game during his career and averaged 4.4 rebounds in 15.5 minutes with the Detroit Pistons a year ago.

Morris, who made his preseason debut Friday night after being acquitted of aggravated assault in Arizona, has averaged 4.2 rebounds in 416 career games.

He grabbed 4.6 rebounds while with the Pistons last season and will play a similar role to Jae Crowder, who averaged 5.8 rebounds last season while at both forward positions.


Tatum, who will be in the rotation right away, averaged 7.3 rebounds in 33 minutes for Duke in his lone collegiate season.

Brown, who played 17 minutes per game as a rookie, grabbed just 2.8 rebounds

Hayward, who spent the past seven years with the Utah Jazz, had his best rebounding performance in the 2016-17 season, getting 5.4 per game.

The Celtics were tied for 26th place in total rebounds last season with the Indiana Pacers, ahead of only the Sacramento Kings, Milwaukee Bucks and the Dallas Mavericks.

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