The Boston Celtics offense seems to be in a rut the past couple of weeks. The Celtics are losers of four of their past seven and have struggled to put up points. This has created growing concerns in Boston. Fans and coaches alike are wondering if all the moves the Celtics have made in the past month were beneficial or hurtful to the 2011 team.
Honestly, it is really way too early to tell. Things take time. Chemistry takes time. As players jell and start to play with one another more, they will become more comfortable in doing so. It is by no means time to panic. However, one thing needs to be addressed and that is "Ubuntu".
Ubuntu basically means "I am because we are." It is a slogan the Celtics follow that personifies their teamwork and camaraderie. It is very important that these new players buy into this and not fight the system. It isn't a joke. It isn't something stupid that the Celtics just do. It is a mindset that we can overcome anything but on our own we are nothing.
The Celtics have an abundance of talent but have been playing as individuals recently and not as a team. Ubuntu and the Celtic way isn't meant to brainwash these new players but to steady their eyes on the prize.
Essentially, the Celtics need to have their new players play like they are the old ones. For example, the C's need Arroyo to take on Nate Robinson's role on the team. Nenad Krstic needs to be what Semih Erden was for the Celtics but a juiced up version of Erden. Kevin Garnett, Troy Murphy and Glenn "Big Baby" Davis need to all chip in to provide a defensive presence to take the place of the departed Kendrick Perkins.
Shaquille O'Neal will more than do his share of pitching in to help with the down low presence upon his return in the next week but his health cannot be counted on as he is an older player in the league now. The Celtic's must be able to be a force down low even without Shaq to win games moving forward.
Some may read the last paragraph and think, well why didn't the Celtics just keep the old players if the new ones need to play as the old? The answer to that is that the new Celtics are more talented than the old. All the talent in the world won't matter though if the new guys do not buy into the system, play hard defense and team basketball all game.
Paul Pierce is the Captain of the Boston Celtics, but Rajon Rondo must be the floor general. He leads the NBA in assists per game for good reason currently registering 11.5 per game. When Rondo dishes out the ball, he sparks the Celtics offense. He creates wide open shots for his teammates by passing the ball to them right at the right time and spot.
His passing ability and court vision create high percentage shots for the Big 3 (Garnett, Allen & Pierce). Rondo makes the Celtics either an average playoff team or a championship caliber team. If you do not know how to run an offense, then it does not matter if you have all the right players at the 2, 3, 4 and 5 positions. A bad point guard would not have the proper timing with his teammates that a great PG like Rajon Rondo has with his mates and timing is everything.
Over the past seven games which the Celtics have lost four of, Rajon Rondo has seen his assist numbers drop well below his season average. Across those games he has averaged roughly 6.4 assists per game and that is a big reason that the Celtics have been losing games. Sharing the basketball is essential to maximizing the talents the C's put on the floor around Rondo (i.e. Jeff Green, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Glen Davis...)
In conclusion, if the Celtics want to be all that they can be and win the 2011 NBA Championship, then Rajon Rondo must get healthy and start handing out the ball like a mad man once again. He is suffering from planter fasciitis, a hurt ego, a sore ankle and more. Great athletes play through injuries as Rondo is but sometimes it may be best to take some time off.
It is not all Rondo's fault that the Celtics are not winning. It is also because the new players have to play harder. That means you Jeff Green. I've noticed that some new guys appear to be playing lazily. They are probably used to that from past experiences around the NBA. That doesn't fly in Boston.
In Boston, the Celtics, practice hard, workout hard and play harder! Yes, the Celtics are on a bit of a slide but like Sylvester Stallone says so admirably when he starred as Rocky in Rocky Balboa, "The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't how hard you hit; it's about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done. Now, if you know what you're worth, then go out and get what you're worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit, and not pointing fingers saying you ain't where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain't you. You're better than that!"
The C's are better than they have been playing and the sooner they realize that the better off they will be. It all starts with Rajon Rondo and the new players stepping up their games another notch. So, go get em'...Celtics! Hoorah! Celtics! Hoorah! Celtics! Hoorah! 1, 2, 3, Ubuntu!