No Rondo? No Problem

This past week, I saw my beloved New England Patriots lose the AFC Championship on their home turf to the Baltimore Ravens, Unknownfive days later my Boston Celtics blew a 27 point lead to the Atlanta Hawks en route to a double overtime loss.  Two days after that, I learned Rajon Rondo will miss the rest of the 2013 season with a torn ACL.  The argument can be made this was the worst week of my life, at least in the world of sports.  Most Celtics fans are on the Tobin Bridge ready to jump because of the loss of Rondo.  You won’t find me on that bridge.  In fact, I am at the opposite end of the spectrum.  I think the Celtics will be better without Rondo.

Go ahead, mock me.  Call me crazy.  Tell me to take my green shaded glasses off.  But let’s face it.  The Boston Celtics were 20-23 before Doris Burke would tell us during the game against the Miami Heat yesterday Rondo would miss the rest of the season.  The truth is I don’t believe the Celtics could be any worse than what they were.

I understand the Celtics just lost their superstar point guard who leads the league in triple-doubles.  I understand the Celtics lost their point guard who dishes out double-digit assists per game.  I get it.  At the end of the day the Celtics were a below .500 team going into yesterday’s game.  In my opinion, the two best games the Celtics have played all season were against the Knicks in New York and yesterday’s contest with the Heat.  In both games Rondo did not play.  He was suspended for the Knicks game and we all know about yesterday.

I must preface my next few thoughts with this. People who read this blog know I am a fan of Rajon Rondo.  Over the last few weeks, the Celtics were a dead team.  On offensive there was too much standing around watching Rondo dribble around everybody.  The Celtics were getting piss poor shots at the end of the shot clock because there was no flow to the offense.  With Rondo out, this now forces everyone to be apart of the offense.  The Celtics are now going to be forced to play team basketball.  I like seeing Kevin Garnett work out of the post.  The inevitable double-team comes and he kicks it out to a guard for an open jump shot.  It is really simple.  The problem is when Rondo was on the court KG wouldn’t play near the basket because he didn’t want to clog the paint.  With Rondo out, I expect better team basketball out of the Celtics.

Remember how excited I was about the Celtics depth back in October?  We will now see that luxury unfold for the rest of the season.  Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee, Jason Terry, and Leandro Barbosa know they are going to get their chance to play.  While none of the above are true point guards, I believe they can adequately handle point guard duties in small doses.

In a weird kind of way, Paul Pierce will be re-energized with Rondo going down.  Paul Pierce will once again be The Man for the imagesCeltics.  Too much was made of making it known the 2013 Celtics were Rondo’s team.  The fact is this team belongs to Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.  I expect Pierce to embrace the challenge of being the go to guy.  He will play a lot of point forward.  Throughout Pierce’s career, he has always been at his best with the ball in his hands.  He is not like Ray Allen who runs off picks all day long.  Pierce is at his best when he can drive to the basket or pull off his patented step back jumper from the elbow.  Pierce is obviously on the back nine of his career.  This will be his last go around as the head honcho.

Even with Rondo out, I believe this Celtics roster as currently constituted can beat every team in the Eastern Conference in a 7 game series.  No doubt, Miami will give them their biggest challenge. I don’t see any scenario in which the Celtics can get better than they are right now this season.  Trading Pierce and/ or Garnett makes no sense.  There is no way the Celtics can obtain equal or greater value for either player.  Not only do they still have the talent to compete, they are also mentoring younger players like Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger how to play the game.  Don’t discount that last intangible.  Garnett has done wonders for the likes of Kendrick Perkins and Big Baby Davis.  Garnett and Pierce are essential to the proper growth and development of Sullinger, Bradley, and even Fab Mello.

Maybe I am overly sentimental when it comes to my teams.  But I also believe I am being objective in looking at this year’s roster.images-1  The season ending injury to the team’s best player could be the best thing that could have happened to this team.  I believe it will allow different players to step up and play key roles and it will motivate the players to “win it for Rondo.”As Sean Grande tweeted yesterday, “On a day when the Celtics lost their best player, they also found their heart.”

I believe in heart.  The Celtics haven’t played with it at all this season until yesterday.  Now the Celtics are motivated to shut up all the media pundits that are writing their 2013 obituary.  I won’t write off the Celtics just yet, and frankly, you don’t have any reason to either.


I can be followed on Twitter @ScottieNTCF


5 Things We Know About the Boston Celtics

I admit, I have slacked off the past week and let down the NTCF faithful, with zero Celtics coverage from the last 3 games.  I simp,y don’t have an excuse for this transgression.  But I am ready to move on.

The Celtics were 2-1 in the last three games that I did not provide a recap.  They lost to the Spurs, followed that with their best win of the season against the Thunder, and then beat the Magic in overtime. The Celtics are 14 games into their 2012-2013 campaign with an 8-6 record, good for fourth in their division, and 8th in the Eastern Conference.  In 14 games, I can tell you 10 things about the 2012-2013 Boston Celtics.

1) Rajon Rondo is good for at least 10 assists a game

Forget the streak.  Rondo is getting double-digit assists without any real trepidation because these assists are coming in the flow of the offense.  Thank you to Adam Lowenstein (@StatsAdam), who answered my question via Twitter when I asked who Rondo has found the most during this streak going into last night.  The answer? Paul Pierce with 112.  Kevin Garnett 110. Brandon Bass 79.  Rondo routinely gets guys open looks.  Think about how many wide open shots the Celtics miss.  10 assists a night is Clockwork Rondo.

2) Jeff Green is consistently inconsistent

One night Jeff Green looks like a young Paul Pierce, the next night he looks like Jerome Moiso (if you don’t know who he is, you aren’t a true Celtic fan).  Here are Jeff Green’s point totals in 14 games: 3, 11, 11, 6, 4, 12, 7, 16, 5, 9, 6, 5, 17, and 1.  The Celtics have zero idea what they are going to get from him night in and night out.  The fact that he isn’t rebounding (2.7 a game) makes his inconsistent offensive output all the more glaring.  Anyone who has read me since the season starts knows I love Jeff Green.  But facts must be acknowledged.  My love for him is without reason at the current time.

3) The Celtics perimeter defense does not exist

The Celtics have gotten killed by the 3 ball so far this season.  Here comes more game by game stats: Here is what the opposition shot from 3 and how made 3 pointers were made versus the Celtics:

Heat 50%, 8.     Bucks 44.4%, 8.    Wizards 30%, 6.    Wizards 34.5%, 10.     76ers 53.8%, 7.   Bucks, 15%, 3.    Bulls 33.3%,  3.

Jazz 46.7%, 7.    Nets   36.4%, 8.  Raptors 36.4%, 8.    Pistons 36.4%  4.       Spurs 50%, 8.     Thunder  25%, 6   Magic 42.3% 11.

The Celtics are giving up about 24 points a game from 3.  In my opinion, that is much to high a number.  The return of Avery Bradley will help the Celtics leaps and bounds on the defensive end of the floor.  There have been reports that the Celts are looking to bring back Mickael Pietrus to help defend that perimeter. My hope is the Celtics go after a big man to fill the roster spot left open by Darko’s leaving the team.  But if the Celtics can’t defend opposing guards, Danny might be forced to bring back Air France.

4) Leandro Barbosa is instant offense

I find myself getting excited when I see #12 checking into the game.  He is lightning fast and has the ability to put up points in a hurry.  He isn’t a traditional point guard, but I am starting to think that is working in his favor.  He has been getting to the rack at will, and has the ability to find the glass on all of his shots.  He is averaging only 7 points a game, but has had 3 games where he has put up 15 or more points.  He is an added dimension the Celtics have not had in a long time. It is always nice to have scoring off the bench.

5) The Boston Celtics can’t rebound

What scares me most about the lack of rebounding illustrated by the Celtics 14 games into the season?  This is the same weakness that hurt them in the playoffs last season.  Opposing teams are getting on average 10 second chances a game.  That is simply inexcusable.  Once again, it’ll be interesting to see what Danny does with Darko’s now vacant roster spot.  Do you take a flyer on Kenyon Martin to beef up the front line? Do you put together a trade package for Marcin Gortat?  That package is likely to include Avery Bradley with another roster player.  The Celtics tend to play undersized and their bigs aren’t overly athletic.  There is no easy solution to this problem.  Until it is fixed, the Celtics will not get out of the Eastern Conference come playoff time.

I can be followed on Twitter @ScottieNTCF

Scottie’s Recap: Celtics Succumb to Trap Game, Pistons

I chalk the Celtics 103-83 loss to the Pistons as the Celtics being nothing more than victims of a trap game on a cold shooting night. There is no other reason why the Celtics would lose to the now 2-9 Detroit Pistons. From the opening tip, the Celtics weren’t into the game and to tell you the truth, as a fan, I wasn’t up for it either.  The game was the last of a 4 games in 5 night stretch.  Fatigue may have been a problem but then again, the Celtics coasted to an easy victory over the Raptors the previous day.  The Celtics do have two tough games ahead in the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder. Maybe they got caught up in looking past the Pistons.  Whatever the case may be, the Celtics lost by 20 to the woeful Pistons.

The Celtics shot 45% from the field, 23% and 23% from distance.  The normally consistent Brandon Bass was 3-9 from the field.  It felt a lot worse than that.  I have come to know him as one of the more consistent shooters on the Celtics over the past two seasons.  His 18 foot jumper is usually money in the bank.  Jason Terry was 1-6 from the floor and was 0-4 from deep.  The 4 three pointers he missed all felt like shots that could have changed the game.  He was found in transition, was wide open, but simply couldn’t knock down the shot.

Rajon Rondo barely kept his 10 assist a game streak going.  He got his 10 assists but 3 of them were recorded in garbage time.  This wasn’t his fault.  He continues to get his team wide open shots time and time again.  It is not his fault his teammates can’t knock them down.  He found Chris Wilcox for what looked like a wide open dunk.  Wilcox lost the ball as he was going up in the air.  It was just one of those nights.

Jared Sullinger was the team’s highest scorer with 16 points on 7-12 shooting.  He was also a -20 in the box score.  I felt like he and Chris Wilcox were beaten repeatedly on the glass.  The Celtics bigs lack the fundamentals of boxing out properly.  It is such an elementary part of the game and is frustrating to see guys not able to perform such an easy technique.  The Pistons only had 7 offensive rebounds but it felt like a lot more than that.  They did out rebound the Celtics 39-30. Just a frustrating game.

On my way home from work today, I heard Marc Bertrand say that Darko Milicic was leaving the team for the rest of the season to go back to his country to be with his ill mother.  I got home and looked up available free agents.  It seems the Celtics veterans have already beat me to it.  They are lobbying for the team to sign Kenyon Martin according to report by Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski.  I would love this move if Danny is able to pull it off.  The Celtics need to bulk up their depth in the front court.  They have all the back court depth a team could ask for.  Bringing in Kenyon Martin, if in shape, will take a heavy burden off of KG’s shoulders.  I am all for bringing Kenyon Martin to Boston.

I can be followed on Twitter @ScottieNTCF

Scottie’s Recap: Gino Makes First Appearance of 2012-2013 Season

From time to time I will hand over the controls to our newest writer, Rob.  He will provide a fresh voice on the state of the Celtics to keep mine from going stale.  He did a great job with the Nets game.  Now I am back to talk about the shellacking the Celtics provided the Raptors.

The beloved Gino made his 2012-2013 season debut yesterday afternoon.  2 weeks ago I didn’t think we would see the dancing fiend at all this season.  The combination of the futile Toronto Raptors and the Celtics playing in a rhythm that provided perfect synergy resulted in Gino time.

Rajon Rondo doled out 20 assists after missing the Brooklyn game with an ankle injury.  Not only have I been arguing he is the best point guard in the game today, I think, at the rate he is playing, deserves strong consideration for NBA MVP.  I understand that I am putting him in a conversation normally reserved for LeBron James and Kevin Durant.  At the time of this writing, Rondo averages 13.3 points per game and 13.4 assists per game.  Based on that he is accountable for at least 39 points a game.  Put him in the conversation.

Jared Sullinger was great on Sunday.  I know our good friend Q is going to love watching Sullinger as a Celtic for the next several years.  He compared Sully to Kevin Love before the NBA draft.  That was a comment I mocked him for time and time again.  Then the Celtics drafted him and my haterade drinking ceased.  Now, after games like yesterday, I will have to hear it from Q.  Sullinger had 12 points and more importantly 11 rebounds.  The Celtics have been atrocious rebounding the basketball this season.  For an undersized guy like Jared Sullinger to grab 11 boards, that is very encouraging.  Kevin Love is 6’10 and one of the best rebounders in the game.  Sullinger is 6’9.  If Sullinger can become a microcosm of Kevin Love, I will be ecstatic.

The last thing I took away from yesterday’s game was Doc’s ability to keep minutes down.  The Celtics are coming into today playing their 4th game in 5 days, and second game of a back to back.  Garnett played just 17 minutes, Pierce 25 minutes, and Terry 29 minutes.  Anyone who has talked to me about the Celtics know that my motto for this season is “82 game audition.”  All I want out of the regular season is for the Celtics to stay healthy and build chemistry so they can make real noise in the real season, the playoffs.  Keeping minutes down when they can will be key.  So far, Doc has done just that.

Tonight, the Celtics travel to Detroit to take on the 2nd worst team in the NBA, the Detroit Pistons.

I can be followed on Twitter @ScottieNTCF

Scottie’s Recap: Celtics Slow Down Bulls

DISCLAIMER-Yes, this post is two days late.  I apologize.  I know I made the promise to watch every minute of every game.  But through no fault of my own, I was unable to watch the first 45 minutes of the game.  Yes, that means I only saw the last 3 minutes of the game.  I play basketball on Monday nights..  I had my DVR set to record the Celtics game and the Providence Friars game.  The DVR couldn’t handle such excitement and only successfully recorded the Friars game. I am just full of excuses.

The Celtics beat the Bulls 101-95 in Chicago giving them a 2-0 record on their road trip through the central US.  In the last 3 minutes of the game, I was impressed with the relative ease in which the Celtics were scoring.  The Bulls are usually the premier defensive team in the league thanks to former Celtics coach Tom Thibodeau.  But I saw Rondo hit KG with 2 alley oops off of screen rolls that made the Bulls look more lost than Hurley, Sawyer, Jack, and Locke.  (The five people that read this blog will appreciate that reference).

Any other analysis I can provide would be by looking at the box score, something I really hate doing.  But here I go.  The Celtics started out fast and built a 12 point lead going into the half.  They threw up 33 points in the first quarter.  Good to see the first unit starting quickly again.  It looks like the game was never really close.

Rajon Rondo was one rebound short of a triple double.  It is amazing that he is getting at least 10 assists a night with no problem. He also had 5 steals and was 10-16 from the field.  I am still waiting for someone to make a convincing argument that he is not the best point guard in the NBA right now.

Every starter scored in double figures.  Rondo 20, Bass 16, KG 15, Terry 13, and Pierce had the off night with just 10 points.  Every starter was + in plus/minus while every bench player was minus.   I am glad to see Doc was able to keep KG under 30 minutes and they were still able to win.  Keeping Garnett healthy is the obvious key to the season.  If he breaks down, so do the Celtics championship hopes.  Doc must be conscientious of that.

I am starting to believe Courtney Lee is playing on borrowed time right now.  If he keeps up his unproductive play, he will be getting Darko/ Jason Collins minutes when Avery Bradley comes back.  Lee was a minus 17 in 18 minutes off the bench.

I apologize for a weak recap but I truly have nothing to else to go on here.

Old friend Al Jefferson and his Utah Jazz come into town tonight at 7:30.  I will watch the game and provide a more useful follow up.


I can be followed on Twitter @ScottieNTCF

Scottie’s Recap: Celtics 86’ed by 76ers

There is no true recap for tonight’s game.  Truth be told, I didn’t pay close attention to it like I have the previous 4.  Yeah, we lost to the Philadelphia 76ers and they didn’t have their franchise player, Andrew Bynum.  There are many Celtic fans standing on the Tobin ready to hoist themselves into that dirty water.  I don’t understand why.  We are all upset the Celtics aren’t 5-0 right now, instead they are an ugly 2-3.

My view on the 2012-2013 Boston Celtics?  It is an 82 game audition for the playoffs.  The Celtics easily have the most talent on an NBA roster from 1-12. As Celtics fans we must temper our expectations this early.  When LeBron first took his talents to South Beach, the Heat started out 9-8.  We know what they did from there.  The Lakers are in absolute panic mode after starting 1-4.  They fired their head coach!  The bottom line… Hey Celtics fans, show some trust and have faith in your squad.

On to tonight’s game.

I am yet to talk about Courtney Lee through the first five games of the season.  Truth be told, I wanted the Celtics to use the package they used to acquire Lee, to go get Marcus Camby. They didn’t.  I am over it.  It did not happen.  Courtney Lee hasn’t been good, he hasn’t been bad.  I consider Courtney Lee vanilla ice cream.  I mean, its ice cream, but there ain’t no chocolate chips, no cookie dough, no fudge, but it’s ice cream.  Courtney Lee is purgatory.  He is just there.  I love his on the ball defense.  But he cannot rotate on D if his life depended on it.  I am starting to wonder if Doc should start Barbosa with Rondo.  I have no problems with Lee but I don’t like him either.

In my heart of hearts, (no pun intended because it’d be a God awful pun) I think Jeff Green wants to do big things every time he is on the court.  For us Celtics fans, he is the next Paul Pierce.  Green needs to relax and let the game come to him.  He is a very good basketball player.  He shows flashes of brilliance every few possessions.  I find myself getting so excited every time he touches the ball thinking, this will be when he breaks out.  I need to temper my expectations and he needs to chill out and let the game come to him.

It should be noted Rondo had 20 assists tonight.  I am waiting for someone to tell me he isn’t the best point guard in basketball.  I love arguments.  If no one is going to tell me he isn’t the best in the game at what he does I will start campaigning he is the best player in basketball.  You don’t think I will?  Ask anyone that knows me.  Let’s go.

The Celtics have a quick turnaround and travel to Milwaukee.  Milwaukee has had it’s fair share of visitors.  The French missionaries and explorers were coming there as early as the 1600’s to trade with the Native Americans.  It is actually pronounced  “mill-e-wah-que” which is Algonquin for the “good land.”  (What movie?).

I can be followed on Twitter @ScottieNTCF

Scottie’s Recap: Celtics Survive Wizards Again

The Washington Wizards took the Celtics to overtime on the Celtics home floor.  That should never happen. The Celtics won 100-
94. The Wizards have given the Celtics all they could handle in two meetings and that is without Nene and John Wall.  The Celtics played like they were waiting for the Wizards to say “oh you’re the Boston Celtics, we don’t belong on the same floor as you, so we will just quit now.”  Every time the Celtics hit a big shot, the Wizards ran right down the court and answered within seconds.  Give the Wizards credit.  They are a scrappy bunch of no names.  Thankfully, the Celtics don’t see them again until April 7, 2013.

What more can I say about Kevin Garnett?  He is quickly approaching a point in my mind where I will be forced to go out and buy his jersey.  For one grown man to go out and buy another grown man’s jersey, that’s the highest praise I can give.  Garnett was the only reason to watch the game tonight.  His defense remains the best in league.  Without Garnett, the Celtics play zero defense.  The difference between when he is on the floor and on the bench is night and day.  His intensity is paramount to the Celtics success.

All that praise, being given, I am concerned about his minutes.  The Celtics are going into a stretch where they will play 3 games in four days.  Garnett played 35 minutes tonight.  I expect him to play no more than 25 in each of the three games coming up.  Doc has the depth to give Garnett a rest.  The problem is the Celtics are so damn flat when he is sitting down.

Chris Wilcox was awesome in just 4 minutes tonight.  His 4 minutes breathed some life into the Celts.  He had 6 points, 2 rebounds, and a block.  I love the way he runs the floor with Rondo.  He was great last year in his role as “energy guy” before going down with his heart ailment.  I would obviously like to see him get more than 4 minutes but Doc has to tread lightly with Wilcox’s health issues.

Ok, I am going to say this.  Call me a homer, call me a Green Teamer, call me whatever you please.  Rajon Rondo is the best point guard in the NBA.  I have gone back and forth on this one for the last 3 years but I can now say it with total certainty.  He is turning a 10 assist night into an average night.  He has developed a jump shot, which was always his only weakness.  He is also hitting his free throws.  Rondo is the best floor general in the game.  I know it is only 4 games into the season, but if Rondo isn’t starting the All Star Game, I am going to be angry.

I am willing to ignore the first 3 games of the season and say Jason Terry’s career as a Celtic started tonight.  Terry lived up to his off-season words, and was the offensive spark off the bench the Celtics have been missing for the last few years.  I could do without the Jet run after every three he hits however.  I wish he would save that for the big plays.  A couple of times tonight, he had the opportunity to blow the roof off of the Garden with a big 3, but wasn’t able to hit.  I am sure we will see plenty of big shots out of him over the course of the season.  Jet had 16 points in 32 minutes.

Brandon Bass is a rock solid basketball player.  He rebounds, he hits open shots, and is a good free throw shooter.  I was glad to see Doc give him minutes at the end of the game.  Usually he is on the bench in crunch time.  He is another guy that would be able to alleviate Garnett’s minutes.  I will always remember the minutes Bass gave the Celtics against the Heat in last year’s playoffs.  I am huge Brandon Bass fan, the man can play.  Off the bench tonight, Bass played 33 minutes had 11 points and 7 rebounds.

The 76ers come to Boston on Friday night without Andrew Bynum.  They beat the Hornets rather handily tonight 77-62.


I can be followed on Twitter @ScottieNTCF