Celtics 99, Kings 81The Celtics dismantled the Kings (17-30) with the cool efficiency of a hit squad in their first game since Rajon Rondo was officially diagnosed with a torn ACL. Boston has struggled against menial competition all year, but after dropping 37 points and shooting a whopping 80 percent (yes that’s the actual number) from the floor in the second quarter they left little room for doubt in this one. This win moves the C’s to within one game of five hundred at 22-23.
Rondo’s absence forces Courtney Lee, Jason Terry, and Jeff Green to play a larger role in the offense and they delivered with a combined 33 points on 12-23 shooting from the field. The Celtics started the game on an 8-0 run, and continued to expand their lead to 28 thanks to efficient ball movement and precision shooting.
Doc Rivers praised his team’s performance in post-game interviews. He said, “that’s how we have to play overall. Simple, good basketball. Pass the ball Advance the ball.” The C’s will have to lean on each other with their starting point guard out for the rest of the season, and if they can produce like they did on Wednesday Night than is there any reason to believe that they can’t continue to compete?
Well, on one hand, this team put up 51 points before Paul Pierce even scored. Yet on the other hand, Paul Pierce didn’t score until there were three minutes to play in the first half. This is disconcerting because while they were able to defeat a team that came into the game allowing a league worst 103.2 points per game, they will need the Captain to step it up against higher caliber opponents.
NBA games, and playoff games in particular, are not usually won due to superior ball movement and balanced bench play. In this league, stars decide their team’s fate down the stretch. Until Pierce demonstrates the ability to create his own shot in clutch situations, it’s hard to envision this team winning a playoff series.
(Avery Bradley doing his defensive thang with the chase down block)
For the time being, the C’s are off to a 2-0 start without Rondo. It may be purely circumstantial, or partially due to the adrenaline that a team can experience when they lose a superstar, but it’s a positive trend that they may be able to build on heading into the all-star break.
Boston hosts Orlando on Friday before this revamped roster faces their first true test against the Los Angeles Clippers on Super Bowl Sunday. Will they continue to disprove all those ‘obituary writers’ who said they couldn’t compete without Rondo?