Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Celtics Contemplate Life Without Rondo After Icing The Heat: 100-98

At long last...

{A series of unfortunate events have conspired to prevent me from getting this story posted, but as such, I've had the benefit of letting the dust settle a bit since Sunday's "Bag Of Dead Cats" announcement concerning the Celtics most mercurial leader.}

GIF by @jose3030
Lets get the obvious out of the way early (well, early in this post, anyway), okay? The Celtics are going to miss Rajon Rondo in a big way...no two ways about it. He is a superstar hitting his prime on a team with two game-but-aging veterans and a collection of talent that have undoubtedly benefitted from his abilities, leadership and drive.

What the Celtics do from here to try and mitigate his absence and my layman's opinion/prediction about their success? Well...lets deal with that a little bit later in the post. First, I want to start by celebrating the C's resilience in bouncing back against the Champion Miami Heat.

The recap, as old as it may now seem:
In what was truly an entertaining matchup of Eastern Conference Contenders (yes, I'm among the other Greenheadz who are not taking the easy "C's are dead without Rondo" bailout), the Celtics not only held their own, they up and snatched Miami's as well. Despite the circus atmosphere attributable to "The Return Of Ray Allen" and the loss of Rondo (originally scratched from the lineup due, it was believed, to a balky hamstring), the Celtics were able to chuckle in adversity's grill with a display of such defensive fortitude and offensive firepower that one can only call it by its proper name: Celtic Pride.

Paul Pierce assumed his default position in all cases of Rondolessness -- the Point Forward -- and responded with his first triple-double in three years (though he HAS achieved 8 of 'em throughout a storied career), Kevin Garnett took another dip in the Cocoon tide-pool (to be fair, his entire season has been Cocoon-esque), and the C's got strong offensive contributions from Jeff Green (who also defended the Hell out of LeBron James -- 34-point outburst not withstanding), Jason Terry, Leandro Barbosa, Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger. Courtney Lee provided needed ballhandling and defense and the Celtics battled through two overtimes before wresting the game from the defending champs.

Pierce's contribution of 17 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists, 1 steal and 1 block was especially sweet as some of his damage was inflicted against a spry Ray Allen; and Garnett's 24 points, 11 boards, 4 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocks was straight out of his 2008 "Playbook of Dominance."

Oh, and that Allen guy? he scored 21 points on 7-17 shooting. Chris Bosh (the only member of Miami's "large four" to shoot 50% or above with a line of 7-12) was a problem with 16 points, 16 rebounds and a block; and Dwyane Wade scored 17 points on 6-20 shooting to go with 7 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block; while LeBron got his final score by throwing up 31 shots (making 14), and added 16 rebounds 7 assists, 3 steals and 1 block.

But, for all their scoring and rebounding, the Heat as a team were still out-assisted (even in Rondo's absence!), outsmarted (21 turnovers to the C's 17), and -- in the end -- outscored.

Box Score

Now...about the Celtics and the first day of the rest of their collective L.W.R. (Life Without Rondo)...

Many, many and by many I mean MANY sportswriters, pundits, bloggers, coaches and players have offered their myriad opinions about what the loss of Rondo means and what the Celtics should do moving forward.

Two of the better articles that have been written to date about the subject come by way of Chad Finn of the Boston Globe's "Touching All The Bases" column, who had one of the most cogent if not sentimental articles that deal with the realities of the team trying to make its way without Rondo and the plea not to trade Pierce, and the other was written by Zach Lowe of Grantland.com who presents a staggering array of trade scenarios that the Celtics are either rumored to be considering or are considered to be rumors they should be considering.

There have been reports of rumors of gossipped hearsay that has Kyle Lowrey coming in and Lee going out...Delonte West coming back, looking for Agent Zero to be a hero, a countdown to Keyon Dooling (no fooling!), a Jose Calderon to call our own and Pierce going everywhere from Memphis to LA to Moscow for Rudy Gay, Marcia Gay Harden and the greatest hits of Marvin Gaye.

As for what I think...well, if you've been to this blog before, you know that I come from that familiar but rapidly dwindling species: the Loyal and Eternal Optimist. I think the C's should do nothing more than keep what they have and add to the crew with free agency to fill the open slots that were created with the cuts of Kris Joseph and Jarvis Varnado and possibly utilize an injury exception -- if the C's apply and the League grants it.

But, I'll save the speculation for another day...for me, it's too soon in the wake of the Rondoldroms setting in. Maybe a little time and a Kings game in between will suffice. Maybe...

Still, without even waiting to see what the Celtics elect to do...some of you Chicken Little types have already sounded the death knell on Season 2012-2013. That's fine...you can do that if you want...whatever gets you through the night...

But, me? I'm standing with Doc...I refuse to pronounce this team deceased at 1:35 p.m. on Sunday, January 27th, 2013 -- cause of death: L.O.R. (Loss of Rondo).
No. Instead, I'm going to watch this team and see how they respond, whether they struggle and achieve in the face if adversity or they use the loss as an excuse and fold tents for the rest of the year and effectively end the "New Big Three Era" as we've come to know it.

I'm betting on the achievement in the face of adversity thing. But, then again, what do I know? I'm just one in a handful of Loyal Eternal Optimist Greenheadz.

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