Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Celtic Pride: One Step Back, Two Forward

Since losing NBA assist-leader Rajon Rondo to a torn ACL on January 27th, the Boston Celtics have dramatically improved their level of play.

Prior to Rondo’s injury, Boston stood at 20-23 and out of the playoff picture. Since then, the Celtics have won 11 of 15 games and currently stand as the 7th seed in the East. With an 8 game advantage over tonight’s opponent, the 9th place Philadelphia 76ers, the Celts have a playoff berth nearly locked up with a quarter of the season left to play.

In fact, the Celtics are just 2 games behind the Chicago Bulls who currently hold the 4th seed.

Tonight we asked the SnapCall audience: Why have the Celtics improved without their star point guard?

Keeping Kevin Garnett in a Celtic uniform has been key to Boston’s resurgence. As the trade deadline approached, rumors swirled that KG would be traded to the Los Angeles Clippers. Garnett even received personal pleas from Chris Paul, but refused to waive his no-trade clause. As the emotional soul of the Celtics, loyalty meant more than limelight -- Garnett has played inspired ball ever since.

In the month since Rondo went down, Garnett and Paul Pierce have reclaimed the leadership role that was seemingly passed on to the surly little point guard. In February, Garnett averaged 15.7 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. Pierce scored 17.8 PPG and dished 6.3 APG. Both played well above their season averages. The future Hall of Famers saved the Celtics season with All Star caliber play.

The Celtics have also picked up their game on the defensive end. Avery Bradley had big shoes to fill when taking over for Rondo as starting point guard. While the Texas alum averages only 9.2 PPG, Bradley has emerged as one of the NBA’s best defensive guards. As Kevin Garnett recently remarked, Avery Bradley “is everything to our defense”.

The Celtics have improved from the NBA’s 25th ranked defense to the 9th best, allowing under 96 points per game. They’ve allowed 100 points just 6 times since losing Rondo.

Rajon Rondo is likely to remain a fixture in the Boston Celtics lineup for years to come. He’s a star with unparalleled court vision, but the facts clearly state that the 2012-13 Celtics are a better team without him. Go figure.

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