BOSTON (CBS) –The Boston Celtics officially began their Rajon Rondo-less quest Wednesday night with an impressive 99-81 win, though tempering future expectations is a must, given the fact it came against the Sacramento Kings.
The Celtics moved the ball with ease, putting together one of the team’s best overall efforts of the season (again though, against the Sacramento Kings). Without their All-Star point guard, Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee formed a dynamic backcourt that helped create 19 turnovers (against the Sacramento Kings) leading to 27 points (against the Sacramento Kings). The Celtics shot an eye-popping 53.4-percent and put together their best quarter of the season, pouring in 37 points in the game’s second frame (did I mention it was against the Sacramento Kings?).
Fast break points? The Celtics only had 14 of them, but their transition offense looked worlds better than it has all season (the Sacramento Kings had something to do with that) – and that’s what the Celtics’ goal is now without Rondo (even when they aren’t playing against the Sacramento Kings).
“We have to,” guard Avery Bradley said after his 11-point, five rebound night (against the Sacramento Kings). “That’s one of the things Courtney and I told each other before the game, ‘get it and go.’ That’s how we have to play; it’s hard to play a team like that.”
“Simple, good basketball,” said Doc Rivers. “Advance the ball, move the ball.”
“It’s hard to replace Rondo, but what we learned is we just have to use teamwork,” added Bradley. “Everybody pass the ball and make plays for one another. Rondo made it easy for everybody, so now we have to make it easy as a team; giving the ball to our playmakers (like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett). They’re going to double team those guys, and they’ll find the open guy. The ball moved a lot tonight and everybody played well.”
It sounds so simple, and the Celtics made it look that way (against the Sacramento Kings). It was an all-around team effort with six players scoring in double digits – including the struggling Jason Terry and Brandon Bass. But that good offense came from good defense, with the Celtics holding their opposition (the Sacramento Kings) to 39-percent from the floor.
But for all that good, it came against the Sacramento Kings – a now-17-30 team that they should beat, even without Rondo (even though they couldn’t beat them with Rondo last month). It was a nice to see the Celtics play nearly a full game-worth of solid basketball – minor hiccups in the second half let the Kings kind-of, but not really, get back into it – but doing it against Sacramento isn’t going to strike fear throughout the Association.
But given how the first three months of the season have gone, any bright spot for the Celtics will be amplified. So let’s take the win (against the Sacramento Kings) and build off it.
Despite the lesser opponent, Wednesday night was a good starting point for the Celitcs (yes, another one). The Bradley-Lee backcourt looks downright filthy on the defensive end, and will cause nightmares for the opposition moving forward. Minus a Super Bowl Sunday match up with the LA Clippers, the Celtics have some weaker opponents coming up that should let them climb above .500 before the All-Star break.
Games like Wednesday night are the ones the Celtics should win, but weren’t winning early on. Them winning big (against the Sacramento Kings) may be a little bit of fool’s gold, but it’s a win none-the-less; one that will help them build confidence as they move forward without Rondo.