Rajon Rondo (torn ACL) out for the year.More to come.— Sean Grande (@SeanGrandePBP) January 27, 2013
Rondo’s loss is a crippling blow, especially considering the Celtics’ unwillingness to trade him this season in hopes of making a playoff run. With Rondo on the shelf, it now becomes the responsibility of Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee to keep Boston’s backcourt moving in a forward direction.
Boston is 20-23, just two games ahead of Philadelphia for the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, and Rondo has been a major reason why the Celtics have remained in contention. He leads the team in assists (11.1) and steals (1.8) per game, and is also the team’s third-leading scorer (13.7).
As has been the case for several years, Boston’s offense runs through Rondo. He is the facilitator, and without a true point guard to run the offense and create scoring opportunities, Boston could easily fall out of the Eastern Conference race in the coming months.
Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee must fill Rondo’s role. The Celtics have solid scorers in Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry and Jeff Green. They don’t need a scoring point guard as much as they need a facilitator who can create scoring opportunities all over the floor.
Neither Lee nor Bradley has been expected to dish out assists all that much this season. The two have combined for 2.4 assists in 47 minutes per game, but there has never been an extreme need for either to set the tone and run the offense consistently.
The problem for Boston is twofold, however: Neither player is particularly good at handling the ball, and both turn it over too often.
Perhaps with some repetition, one of the two can transition to the role for the remainder of the season. If Boston doesn’t attempt to make a deal for another point guard, that’s what will have to happen for the Celtics’ offense to continue moving forward.
Rondo’s loss is significant, but the coming weeks will tell the rest of the story. Boston’s depth has been its strong suit of late. Even if Lee or Bradley can run the offense in Rondo’s stead, the Celtics must reassess their rotation and consider adding someone before the deadline who can help them secure a playoff spot.