Apr 28, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo (9) on the court before the start of game four of the first round of the 2013 NBA playoffs against the New York Knicks at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
The Boston Celtics don’t have a lot of hope to win this series, even after winning yesterdays game. History indicates that the Celtics will lose after falling behind by three straight games. Playing an opponent over and over again makes it harder for you to get into a groove for a four game winning streak.
The Celtics haven’t been able to score against the Knicks’ defense. They’ve only broken the 80 point barrier one time in the series and that was their only win. They haven’t been able to execute their halfcourt offense at all even though they’ve been defending well enough to win some of these games.
If Rajon Rondo were playing there’s no question that he would be a factor in this series. Rondo only scored 13.7 points per game, but he averages 11.1 assists–still a league-leading figure. The Celtics haven’t been able to push the pace on a consistent basis in this series and Rondo would’ve fixed that. He’s one of the best guards in the league at controlling the tempo of things even with no jump shot.
If you recall the last time the Celtics and the Knicks faced each other in the playoffs two seasons ago, Rondo defeated them by pushing the ball up the floor and scoring it rather than dishing it. This is certainly a different Knicks team with different philosophies, but one thing hasn’t changed–their transition defense and offense is still bad.
If Rondo was playing he’d also be able to fix the problems that the Celtics have had with post-entry passing and passing in general. The best entry pass player that the Celtics have right now may be Paul Pierce–the player who they routinely try to post up. We’ve seen the Celtics try multiple options at point guard and none of them have worked. Avery Bradley hasn’t been a good option at the point guard spot and Jason Terry wasn’t an offensive threat before last night’s game.
The Celtics have struggled to create any shot outside of the post and with no good passing, its difficult to generate offense. They could use Rondo’s paint penetration to develop easy looks for Kevin Garnett and Bradon Bass as they did in the past. Boston has tried so many different options on the ball and none of them have panned out.
Their easiest way to generate offense is through transition opportunity, but the only player who’s particularly good at that is Jeff Green. Relying on Green for your offense in transition is sketchy at best because of his limitations with his left hand. Its easy for the defenders to get to one side of him and shade him to the left. That disrupts his dribble and his finishing ability at the rim.
You’ve got one decent trailer in Paul Pierce on the fastbreak, but with him being on the ball for a majority of the plays the defense is going to key in on him. Transition offense is a better alternative to their halfcourt offense, but it isn’t better by that much.
Rondo would’ve changed the outlook of this series dramatically with all of the things he does well. He’s fallen off as a defender is recent years because of how much he gives on the offensive end, but with his keen passing sense and the ability to initiate the Celtics transition offense, this series would’ve been far more of a competitive one.