No Rondo? No Worries For C’s

 Six. That’s how many wins the Boston Celtics have won in a row without star point guard Rajon Rondo. That includes wins over the LA Clippers, the Eastern Conference favourite the Miami Heat and, most importantly, their historic rivals the Los Angeles Lakers. They’re now 26-23, with a PCT (wins/loss percentage) of 0.531; good enough for seventh in the East. Not bad for a team that looked as good as dead half a month ago.
Their last loss, the last game Rondo took to the court, was the January 25th match-up at Atlanta Hawks. Since then, the C’s have seen a number of unsuspecting players step-up from their normal role-playing cameos and have seen some big minutes; and they have performed. 
Obviously you’ve got the usual suspects in Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett playing as everyone in the league knows they can, but we’ve also seen guys like Leandro Barbosa and Jason Terry step up and impress Coach Doc Rivers. 
Barbosa and Terry have a 5.3PPG and 10.0PPG respectively yet in the last six games, both has scored greater than that in five of those games. Barbosa’s included a season high 14PTS against the Clippers and Raptors while Terry had a very respectable 15 vs the Lakers. 
Courtney Lee similarly has scored above his PPG five out of the last six games and has also found himself starting in the empty Rondo one spot while crowd favourite Jeff Green, arguably the most versatile player on the C’s roster and a definite X-factor has also seen figures peak his PPG in five of those games including 19 against the Lakers. 
What does this mean? It means that the C’s aren’t playing the same, predictable ball that they were with Rondo in the lineup. They are playing unselfish, quick and, most importantly, passionate ball that relies on precision passes and ultimately results in better looks at the basket from a variety of different players not named Paul or Kevin. Everyone is making themselves accountable; and they’re having no problem putting that pressure on themselves. That, is true Celtics basketball.
In the past six games, the Celtics have averaged 102PPG. Compare that to their season average of 96PPG and it seems beyond comprehension that they’re doing that with their main play maker and distributor. It seems, at least for now, that Rondo’s injury was a blessing in disguise. But when push comes to shove, if you ask Doc Rivers whether he wants his number one man back for the first round of the playoffs, I’m sure he’d just shrug you off and laugh. Of course he would.  
Their next game is today against another hot form team in Denver at home. If they can take the W, the Celtics would and should be seen as a major threat to the Eastern Conference; a struggling conference that, even at this stage of the season, still looks fairly open. 
Christopher Tyler

February 11th 2013
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