They say actions speak louder than words.
The Boston Celtics have said they want to use February to try and get back into the playoff race. So far, their butts are cashing checks that their mouths have written.
Boston saw five players score in double digits, led by Jeff Green’s 36 points, as the team avenged its previous loss to the Philadelphia 76ers by winning 114-108 at the Wells Fargo Center last night.
Jared Sullinger notched a double-double with 19 and 10, Brandon Bass contributed his consistent play with 18 points, and Avery Bradley and Jerryd Bayless, two players who have just recently returned from injuries, added 14 and 11 points, respectively.
Of course, the difference between this game, and games from earlier this season in which we saw similar contributions from the players listed above, is that Rajon Rondo is quickly playing more and more like the Rondo who quarterbacked his team to two NBA Finals appearances. For the second straight game, Rondo just missed out on notching a triple double, as he accumulated 8 points, 9 rebounds, and 11 assists on the evening. More importantly, for the second straight game Rondo made plays down the stretch, something the Celtics were consistently unable to do without him in November, December and January. If you look back at Boston’s record during those months, there are too many examples of games that the Celtics lost because their fourth quarter offense fell flat. Before Rondo’s return, the club had no real idea of who should have the ball in the closing minutes. Lately, though, Rondo has made the difference in these close games. For example, Sully’s three-point play with 59.4 seconds left gave the Cs a 112-105 lead – and it was created from a feed by Rondo. Just like that, Boston turned away the 76ers final rally of the evening, rather than succumbing to it like they did a week ago.
According to head coach Brad Stevens,
He [Rondo] made a ton of good decisions and some huge plays late,
words that coach Stevens better get used to repeating as the season progresses. Early on in the game, a lot of those good decisions went Green’s way, which prompted the maddeningly-inconsistent small forward to give props to his point guard:
He puts me in my spots, gets it to me in the open floor. He sees the floor very well. He’s helping me get into a good rhythm. I have to continue to make sure I get open for him.
With the win, the Celtics remain undefeated in February (2-0, impressive I know!) and improve their record to 17-33. Boston is still second-to-last in the Atlantic Division, and 11th in the Eastern Conference, so we can hold off on the playoff talk for now, but hey: there’s no doubt that the Celtics are going to be infinitely more enjoyable to watch as long as Rondo remains healthy and playing at this level.