When Rajon Rondo was lost for the season, Celtics fans had to talk themselves down from the ledge.
Just as they made their way off after a couple wins and some previously hard-to-find, all-around team play, they got some more bad news: rookie Jared Sullinger would miss the rest of the season due to back surgery.
But wait, don’t jump! After wins against the Magic and Clippers, it’s clear that the C’s newfound “never say die” attitude is still going strong.
It might actually be harder to make up for the loss of Sullinger than it is for Rondo, however.
Boston has a number of proven guards that can combine to more than make up for Rondo’s production. When it comes to big men, though, the C’s were already thin. Sullinger was the team’s best rebounder, and also the team’s plus/minus leader going into Sunday’s game against the Clippers at plus-42. He had just earned the starting nod over Brandon Bass (minus-140).
Now, Bass is back with the starters, and the C’s will have to work more minutes in for Chris Wilcox, Jason Collins, and even Jeff Green at times into the big-man rotation.
Celtics president Danny Ainge wanted to take a “wait and see” approach after Rondo went out, and he told reporters on Friday he’s still willing to take that approach, even with Sullinger out too.
“It’s going to take more than that,” Ainge said. “We’ll just have to win in a different way. Jared’s our best rebounder. We don’t have to play that way. We’re going to have to win in a different way without Jared and without Rajon. We’ll see what we have.”
The C’s outrebounded the Magic, 48-47, on Friday, but were outrebounded by the Clippers, 29-41, on Sunday. As Ainge hoped, they won in other ways. They shot 61 percent (11-18) from behind the arc, and created 21 turnovers (and 33 points off those turnovers).
“Yeah, we have to (win differently),” Doc Rivers said. “We have to make pace. We have to go zone and man, and try to keep teams off-balance. We’re switching now, we’re doing a lot of different stuff on defense now just to create confusion and hopefully they can’t find the matchup.”