Three Celtics storylines to watch Tuesday night (7:30, CSNNE) in Game 2:
Filling Rondo’s void
Let’s get this out of the way right now: Nobody on the Celtics can do what Rajon Rondo does. His absence for tonight’s Game 2 will be apparent, and his selfishness could cost the team a series win over the Hawks. But not having Rondo isn’t the end of the world. It doesn’t mean the C’s will roll over and die. With Rondo in a suit, Avery Bradley will most likely move to the point guard position, while Mickael Pietrus slides into the shooting guard role. The bench becomes thinner, assuming Ray Allen is still out, but players like Keyon Dooling and rookie E’Twaun Moore will have to step up.
The real issue
The Rajon Rondo ejection overshadowed the Celtics’ real problem on Sunday: Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett did not show up to play. Pierce scored just 12 points on 5-19 shooting (0-6 from three-point range). Garnett’s stat line doesn’t look that bad, 20 points and 12 rebounds, but how about not starting the game 0-for-7 tonight? His poor play in the first quarter of Game 1 contributed greatly to the big hole the C’s found themselves in. Rondo or not, if these two can’t get it together, the season is over.
Take a step back
Yes, you, Celtics fan who’s ready to jump. A lot went right for the Hawks in Game 1. Do you think Atlanta will start the game shooting better than 70 percent for much of the first quarter? The C’s know now more than ever that they can’t allow the Hawks to get out on the break. They’ve got to slow the game down. And who knows? With Rondo out, Atlanta could develop a false sense of confidence.