There’s not much sense in sugarcoating the Celtics’ chances at being a title contender without Rajon Rondo.
It was going to be tough with him, and it’ll certainly be tougher without him.
We’re talking about a player who averaged over 37 minutes per game this season and who dominates the ball perhaps more than any other player on any other team in the NBA.
That’s a lot of minutes that Doc Rivers suddenly has free to do whatever he can with – and it won’t be easy. As if Rivers hasn’t already had a tough go of it this season, he now has to essentially rip up a lot of his offensive playbook, simplify things for now, and find out what really works without Rondo.
But maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
After all, the C’s record was just 20-23 before the win over Miami, and they’re now 3-3 this season without Rondo (including two big wins over the Knicks and Heat). Yes, it’s a small sample size. But the C’s also rank in the bottom third in points scored (95.1) with Rondo controlling the offense.
It’s not all Rondo’s fault, as Rivers designed it this way, but it’s clear that players like Jason Terry, Jeff Green, and Courtney Lee – all brought in over the offseason – have suffered from a severe case of too-much-standing-around-itis when playing with Rondo.
A guard-by-committee approach of Avery Bradley, Paul Pierce, Lee, Terry, and Leandro Barbosa will get Boston back to its ways of spreading the ball around more as they did back in 2007-09.
And Boston is in good hands with Terry and Lee. Believe it or not, Terry is second on the team in plus/minus at plus-8. Translation: In his entire court time this season, the C’s have outscored opponents by eight points. Lee is a minus-17, but that’s still good for second among C’s guards – including Rondo (minus-56).
Based on the analytic website 82games.com, with Terry and Lee on the floor, the C’s are outscoring opponents per game at a 59.5-percent rate and 55.8 percent rate, respectively – putting them No. 1 and No. 2 on the team.
Now a true underdog, the C’s need to unite, execute, and overcome.
Oh, and they need sugar. Lots of sugar.