Late last night as we were typing this drivel you see before you, the electronic messages were filtering in across the platforms. Having disposed of the now 17-30 Sacramento Kings — not to be confused with the 1972 Lakers — there were joyful cries that the Celtics are better off now without Rajon Rondo.
In response, we offer two strongly held thoughts. First, the Celtics are most certainly not a better basketball team sans their All-Star point guard. But, second, in a very important distinction, they still have room to play better basketball now than they have this season.
For much of last evening, the Celtics pushed the ball up the floor and ran in numbers to meet the rock. They attacked the basket. Tommy Heinsohn's smile grew so wide, it knocked broadcast partner Mike Gorman from his chair.
"The way we moved the ball, the way we spread the court, that's the way we need to play," said Paul Pierce after going for 16 points, 10 rebounds and four assists in the 99-81 victory. "Nobody had the ball for more than a couple of seconds."
The official stat for fast break points is skewed because it doesn't take into account secondary offense — the stuff you get after the first run is halted but before the defense can be set — but here the Celts thrived with open jumpers from both near and far.
"Transition buckets are something we don't get a lot, and I think obviously since Rondo's absence we're trying to emphasize easy buckets now," said Kevin Garnett, who had a smooth 13 points, nine rebounds and game-high five assists in 28 efficient minutes. "We've got to keep forcing that, keep pushing that and be aggressive."
As the Celts were hitting 16-of-20 shots and going for 39 points in the second quarter, Doc Rivers flashed an occasional "Where have you been all my season?" look.
Running without Rajon Rondo
Boston Herald | Jan 31