Having to play without star point guard Rajon Rondo was unfortunate news to an already struggling Celtics team. Having to play the defending Champion Miami Heat the very next night, was just adding fuel to an already raging fire.
When the Celtics played the Atlanta Hawks last Saturday night, many didn’t expect the struggling C’s to put up as big of a fight as they did, and especially for them to take the game into double overtime. Amazingly, at one point Boston had a 27 point lead , but their sub-par defense let the Hawks back into the game, and eventually to a 123-111 victory. Though it propelled the Celtics to their 7th straight loss, Rondo’s triple double performance stuck out.
With 16 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, it marked Rondo’s third consecutive triple double, and the 27th of his career. Unfortunately it hasn’t been enough, as the Celtics surprisingly find themselves at 21-23 and under 500. Now, with Rondo out for the season with a torn ACL, is it time to man up or trade out?
With a strong bench with the likes of Jason Terry, Courtney Lee and Leandro Barbosa willing and able to fill Rondo’s shoes, does Boston really need to make any drastic changes to the the team? With the Celtics recent performance against the Heat, statistics may prove otherwise.
In Boston’s second consecutive game going into double overtime, they were able to topple Miami 100-98 behind Kevin Garnett’s 24 points. Avery Bradley was moved to point guard in the absence of Rondo as Courtney Lee was put into the starting rotation at shooting guard. Though Bradley was able to contribute 9 points, he tallied up zero assists and only 4 rebounds. With Rondo out, Bradley’s play is crucial to whether the Celtics make it to the playoffs or not.
Paul Pierce stepped up big for the Celtics recording a triple double with 17 points, 10 assists and 13 rebounds. Last night, after coming off two bad games looking lackadaisical and slow, we saw vintage Pierce at his best. If the veteran presence in Boston can perform at a high quality of play, then there may be no need to trade anyone. Head Coach Doc Rivers seems to disagree.
“I think this team wants everything easy. They want the easy way out. They want to win easy. And I told them the only way you’re going to win easy is you’re going to have to play hard. The harder you play, the easier the games become. We’re taking the wrong approach. I’ve got to either find the right combination, the right guys, or we’re going to get some guys out of here. It’s the bottom line. Because this group right now, they are not playing right. It’s in them to play right. But right now they haven’t been — either because I’m not getting to them, or they are not getting to each other. But at the end of the day, either we’ve got to do that, or we’ve got to make changes.”
With these threatening remarks coming at a press conference right after a game where the Celtics were blown out by the lowly Detroit Pistons (103-88), a big win against the defending champs was really what Boston needed to calm the storm. Now, with Rondo hurt, Doc will be asking for 110% out of his crew; a crew that may have one final chance at a championship.