Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 11/22/12
BOSTON — Follow your shot. From high school to recreational leagues to AAU, the mantra of following your shot is ingrained in almost every basketball player. A player who puts up a shot and starts to retreat back down the floor usually can count on a quick hook from his or her coach. If the coach is Doc Rivers, though, he may clap. Rivers does not believe in the time-honored unwritten rule of following one’s shot, and the Celtics’ offensive rebounding numbers under him are a testament to that. Since Rivers took over as head coach of the Celtics in 2004, Boston’s offensive rebounding rank has gone like this: 23rd, 28th, 18th, 23rd, 21st, 30th, 30th, 30th and so far this season 30th again. Whereas “follow your shot” may have more adherents, Rivers’ logic is sound and the results back him up. When a player crashes the offensive glass, there is a small chance he will get the offensive board and create an extra scoring opportunity for his team — but a huge chance he will be caught out of position defensively if he does not get the board. If a player goes for the offensive rebound and fails, he effectively gives the opponent a 5-on-4 advantage. If more than one player goes for the offensive rebound, suddenly it is highlight time for the other team. Go back to those offensive rebounding ranks. The only season in which the Celtics were halfway decent under Rivers was 2006-07, when Al Jefferson averaged 3.4 offensive boards per game for a 24-win club. The next season, with a roster that included some pretty good rebounders in Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins, Leon Powe and P.J. Brown, the Celtics de-emphasized offensive rebounding, fell five spots in that stat and won a championship. Two years later they were rock-bottom in offensive rebounds and came within one win of another title. Last season they were again the worst offensive rebounding team in the league, yet they made it to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. “Listen, you can pick on that all you want,” Rivers said Wednesday after his team came within 88 seconds of being held without an offensive rebound by the Spurs. “That is a number I rarely look at, offensive rebounds. Statistically, it holds up. I can tell you, you don’t offensive rebound, you stop [the opponent's] transition, you win more games than when you get offensive rebounds. I can guarantee you that on those stats.” Just in case Rivers’ word is not enough to convince the skeptics, here is how the Celtics’ field goal percentage defense evolved over time: 13th, 19th, 24th, first, first, ninth, third, first — and so far this season a disappointing 24th. Yet 12 games are not enough to throw out a pattern of success built over the better part of a decade. Compare these defensive rankings again to the offensive rebounding rankings above. For the Celtics, there is a direct correlation between crashing the offensive glass and playing crappy defense. Rivers might get shouted down by old-schoolers for whom “Follow your shot!” is as sacred as the Lord’s prayer. Reggie Miller would probably accuse Rivers of being a “lab geek rat” with a “pocket square.” Somebody, somewhere, probably assumes Rivers came up with the theory while poring over spreadsheets in his parents’ basement. But Rivers clearly looked at the numbers and reached an either-or proposition. Would he rather get a few more tap-ins per game, or would he rather have a defense that was not awful? Given those options, Rivers chose the one that would translate into more wins for the Celtics. What a nerd. Have a question for Ben Watanabe? Send it to him via Twitter at @BenjeeBallgame or send it here.

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Panthers owner Jerry Richardson being investigated for workplace misconduct

WATCH: Gronkowski refuses to discuss suspension, walks out of presser

Cousins complains refs unfairly target him on technicals

FIFA threatens to expel Spain from World Cup

Muhammad Wilkerson not traveling with Jets due to ‘coach’s decision’

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Floyd Mayweather says UFC offered him $1 billion

Porzingis: Knicks fans should show Carmelo ‘love’ in return

Pete Carroll, Sean Payton fined for going onto field

Hot mic catches what LeBron James said to Lonzo Ball

Carlos Santana reportedly signs three-year deal with Phillies

Browns GM: Anything short of competing for division title in 2018 'unacceptable'

Sports & Politics Intersect: Mr. Jones goes to Washington

The 'It's the most wonderful bowl of the year' quiz

NHL Weekender: Bolts keep striking, Preds on the hunt

Chargers are the AFC team no one wants to play in January

Donald Trump's quotes vs. the sports world in 2017

Five MLB teams that should trade for Manny Machado

The 'It's always chilly in Indiana' quiz

NFL puts safety entirely on players, again

Eight NFL teams who simply need to start over

Most important player on every team in each bowl matchup

NFL Week 15 Predictions

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Boogie, Z-Bo reach out and punch someone

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Sports & Politics Intersect: Mr. Jones goes to Washington

NHL Weekender: Bolts keep striking, Preds on the hunt

The 'It's the most wonderful bowl of the year' quiz

Donald Trump's quotes vs. the sports world in 2017

Chargers are the AFC team no one wants to play in January

The 'It's always chilly in Indiana' quiz

NFL puts safety entirely on players, again

Most important player on every team in each bowl matchup

NFL Week 15 Predictions

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Boogie, Z-Bo reach out and punch someone

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker