Rajon Rondo has been suspended two games by the NBA for his altercation with Kris Humphries against Brooklyn on Wednesday night. It can be argued that Rondo’s suspension was too severe, or maybe not enough, but either way the Celtics will be without their All-Star point guard.
This means Rondo will miss Friday night’s game against the Portland Trailblazers and Saturday’s game with the Milwaukee Bucks. Losing their offensive catalyst will be a detriment in the short term, but could this prove beneficial for the long haul?
Boston’s offense heavily relies on Rondo operating at a high level and distributing to the rest of his teammates. At times this reliance becomes a hindrance, with opponents keying on Rondo and forcing others to create for themselves. This has been a problem for some players.
Paul Pierce remains a good isolation player, while Jason Terry and Leandro Barbosa can go off the dribble, but after those three; no one else has shown the consistency to score without Rondo’s assistance.
Losing Rondo will force certain players to step up. Most notably is Jeff Green. He’s a microcosm for the Celtics’ season to this point, inconsistent. The potential is there for Green, evident by his 17-point outburst against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Green’s problem since college has been his level of aggression. Being forced to score in Rondo’s absence could be the on-switch to Green’s season.
There is also the possibility that this will bring the Celtics closer together as a unit. Chemistry has been a problem on both ends of the floor. One of the strengths to Boston’s playoff run last year was their ability to play for one another. A situation with their backs against the wall can bring this team together like last year.
Rondo’s willingness to protect his teammate may be the moment defining his emergence as a leader. Some look at the point guard’s outburst as immature or selfish, but it may also be the display of a captain’s birth.
With so many fresh faces on the roster, those newcomers can’t help but notice the Celtic way of operating. Just as Rondo had Garnett’s back, this will force others to stand up for their teammates in similar situations.
It will now be up to Rondo, when he returns, and the rest of the Celtics to fulfill the message sent by the shove to Humprhies; they cannot afford to be pushed around anymore.
Could the Celtics lose their next two games without Rondo, dropping them to below .500 and sending panic waves throughout the fan base?
Come playoff time, could this moment be looked back on as turning the Celtics from fringe contender to legitimate championship threat?