Boston Celtics fans were devastated when the news was released that Rajon Rondo would be out for this season with a torn ACL. The Celtics squad is missing a huge player with the absence of the star point guard.
However, the team has rebounded and flourished in Rajon Rondo’s absence. Guards Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee have stepped up to the plate, and other players like Jeff Green seem to be playing with more gusto than ever. Let’s pinpoint the five reasons why Boston could bring home the big win even without Rondo.
The young point guard has excelled since he took over Rajon Rondo’s role, and he’s especially effective on defense as a leader.
As the Boston Herald reported, Kevin Garnett said of Bradley, “Avery is everything to our defense.” He continued, “I think he’s the anchor, if you will…If you look at any other guard in the league, no one’s playing defense like he is. He’s just tenacious, man. He’s a silent leader, and it’s by example.”
Bradley’s ability to lead his team on defense coupled with his excellent play makes him a very effective replacement for Rondo. For the last 10 games, Bradley averaged 12.2 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per 33 minutes of game play.
The Celtics have a solid pair of guards in Bradley and shooting guard Courtney Lee, a pair that has the potential to lead Boston to the Championship.
It might just be a coincidence, but ever since Rondo went out with his injury, forward Jeff Green has been playing much better and showing less signs of inconsistency. He had a huge game against Phoenix on Friday February 22, registering 31 points.
Most recently, Green impressed everyone when he scored the game winning shot in the Celtics 83-81 win over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday March 6.
Moreover, Green’s statistics speak to his improvement. His averages for the last 10 games are a great improvement on his 2012-2013 season statistics; he averaged 14.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 31.7 minutes. For this whole season, the forward’s numbers are lower: 11 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.2 assists in less than seven fewer minutes of play time.
Green’s recent success makes him a great backup for veteran Paul Pierce, who needs to watch his minutes so he avoids wear and tear.
Like Jeff Green, guards Jason Terry and Courtney Lee seem to thrive without Rajon Rondo, and whether or not it’s a coincidence, it’s certainly a good thing for the Boston Celtics. Terry and Lee were both acquired prior to the 2012-13 season and are relatively new Celtics.
Terry almost seemed lost at the beginning of the season, but now he’s getting more playing time and showing his stuff on defense and offense. ESPNBoston.com’s Chris Forsberg praised Terry for his defensive play against Kyle Korver during Boston’s overtime 107-102 win over Atlanta on Friday March 8.
Coach Doc Rivers said of Terry’s game against the Hawks, “Jason had 19 points, but I thought the thing he did better than anything was he guarded Korver.” He added, “And he was like glue, he just stayed on him, took away his shots.”
With a starting role next to Avery Bradley and more time on the court, guard Courtney Lee is also flourishing in green. Because of their defensive prowess, Lee and Bradley have acquired the name “the Pitbulls.” If he picks up his scoring, the guard will be even more of a threat on offense during the playoffs.
Maybe the Celtics were motivated by Rondo’s injury to play even harder. Maybe the team jives better without the star point guard. Whatever it is, the Celtics’ record since Rondo went out with his ACL tear has been very impressive.
Their ability to win this many games without Rondo definitely speaks to their strength and depth as a team. If the Celtics continue to win and maintain this standing, they will enter the playoffs with a good spot and will undoubtedly intimidate their competition with their toughness.
Because the Miami Heat are the defending champions and have the ever-powerful LeBron James leading their pack, they are pretty much the team to beat. And, the Celtics can beat them because they have beaten them this season.
On January 27, the day that Rondo’s injury was announced, Boston beat Miami 100-98 at home in TD Garden.
Paul Pierce elaborated on Boston’s ability to beat Miami and other top teams: “We’ve shown that we can beat Miami; we’ve shown that we can beat Oklahoma City; we’ve shown we can beat New York. You’re talking about some of the best teams in the NBA. We’re just going to continue to fly under the radar and see what happens.”
The Celtics have certainly shown that they are capable, even without Rajon Rondo. Though they will miss his speed, his play-making ability and his intensity during the playoffs, the Celtics' may be able to make up for it if they continue to play this well without the point guard.