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Despite It All, A Win: Celtics 100, Heat 98

Miami Heat 98 Final
| Box Score
100 Boston Celtics

Five Things We Saw

  1. The surreal sight of a Celtics team going blow-for-blow with Miami with the kind of fight that would normally make you wonder if they were on the verge of turning their season around… until you realized they didn’t know their all-star point guard, and the man around whom their offense is crafted, had been felled with a torn ACL. The win was messy and spectacular but may ultimately end up being memorable for the way its triumph marked the metaphorical end of the Garnett and Pierce era.
  2. An indifferent offensive performance by Jeff Green that did little to tarnish one of his best overall efforts of the season. Playing with a rare fire, Green hung in there against LeBron James, using his length to bother the best player in the wold and, in another one of those highlight reel moments that cast his season in a better light than it deserves, threw down a crushing dunk over Chris Bosh.
  3. The return of Ray Allen. The former #20 returned and, in line with the bittersweet emotions surrounding Rajon Rondo’s absence, was greeted with a mixture of booing and cheering by a Celtics fanbase whose natural inclinations towards judgement in the face of “betrayal” may have been soothed by the tribute video the C’s used to honor Allen’s past contributions.
  4. Long minutes for Leandro Barbosa, who will finally get his chance to make his mark in Boston green. Short minutes for Chris Wilcox, whose return from the injured list barely rated a mention. Reduced minutes for Brandon Bass, who holds poll position in the race for the title of “Most Disappointing Celtic” in 2012-13 despite stiff competition.
  5. An outwardly defiant Doc Rivers who made clear after the game that he had no intention of altering his team’s intentions this season because of Rondo’s injury. At about the same time Doc was making that proclamation, CBS Sports’ Ken Berger was first off the bench with league sources who indicated this might prompt the C’s to break up the Big Three. The potential tradee: Paul Pierce, who may become a target of the Memphis Grizzlies.

And for good measure, here’s the NBA on ESPN crew breaking down the Rondo injury:

  • old knees 54

    In a strange way Rondo's loss may loosen up the C's. Without expectations and without deferring to the Big 3, the TEAM now must come together. I saw three competent ball hawking guards out there (and Terry). I saw ball movement and basket attacking going on. I saw Green check Labron! Hope that even Pierce sees a new way to play. Mistakes did not result in loosing. this is progress.

  • Phil725

    I prefer looking at the game and the future separately, it's too easy to lose sight of how great a game this was with the news surrounding it. The Cs showed the type of fight that makes you think that they're gonna be a tough out in the playoffs this year if they can hold on. Miami was playing hard (just watch them in the rebounding action,) and Lebron had an excellent day despite good defense on him, and the Cs were matching them.

    They almost threw it away late with execution errors (I mentioned Pierce sagging against a Lebron drive while being up 3 with 10 seconds left earlier,) but they fought throughout and pulled it out in the end. Down 4 with a minute left, they were able to come back, just awesome. If things are downhill from here, at least we can all look back at the games like tonight over the last five years and smile.

  • Phil725

    As far as the future, I'm curious to find out just what Pierce's value truly is. Trading him for someone like Rudy Gay would be pointless; there is no run next year without Pierce, so if you move him, you're blowing it up. What kind of asset can you get back, and who can you dump in the deal?

    Rondo would seem to be completely off the table now since he's at the low point of his value, and I haven't heard anything about KG waiving his no-trade clause, which leaves the options for blowing it up limited. Can you get an expiring contract for Terry from a contender? It's gonna be an interesting month.

  • Phil725

    As far as the future, I'm curious to find out just what Pierce's value truly is. Trading him for someone like Rudy Gay would be pointless; there is no run next year without Pierce, so if you move him, you're blowing it up. What kind of asset can you get back, and who can you dump in the deal? I can't stress this enough: The team needs to clear money off their cap in any way possible. They're paying Green, Bass, Terry and Lee 26m dollars in 3 years! Would anyone like to improve at any point before 2016? Because I would.

    Rondo would seem to be completely off the table now since he's at the low point of his value, and I haven't heard anything about KG waiving his no-trade clause, which leaves the options for blowing it up limited. Can you get an expiring contract for Terry from a contender? It's gonna be an interesting month.

    • Vince

      What GM in the NBA would consider Green, Terry, Bass, and Lee worth $26m for 3 more years? Oops.

      • Phil725

        In fairness, I remember very little criticism for the moves during the offseason (I know I liked them.) The Green contract was unanimously ripped, but Terry was looked at as a Ray replacement, Lee was an effective piece that you got for nothing, and Bass was a capable starting 4 on a reasonable contract. What a difference a few months make.

        • Vincent

          Agreed. Other than the Green signing, all of those deals looked reasonable at the time. I"m just depressed and shouldn't take it out on Danny. Who knew Bass would turn himself into a D-Leaguer?

        • Anthony

          I wwould have been ok with 2 of the 3 DA moves but signing JGreen, Bass, and then drafting Sully and Melo didn't make any sense, especially when KG and Wilcox also plays the 4. Bass should have been the ood man out. But' it's all hindsight now.

    • Banner18

      How do you figure the Cs couldn't make a push with Rudy Gay next year?

      • Phil725

        Well, Gay specifically I think is overrated and not a very good basketball player. He's a rich man's Jeff Green; he looks great on paper and in highlights… only there's very little evidence that he actually helps you win. He can't shoot well enough to space the floor, and he's not a great creator of offense, but he needs the ball in his hands. Part of the support of Gay is that he has another level (like they say about Green,) but I'm confident that this is who he is. He's a borderline all star getting paid a ton. To continue the Jeff Green comparison, his attitude and on court demeanor aren't negative, but they're lackadaisical and effortless, the kind that sap the energy out of your team. The fans here would hate him within a year.

        As far as making a run in general, I think Pierce is extremely vital to everything the team is doing right now. He's vital off the court and as part of the team's heart, and he holds their offense together (as his ridiculous usage rate shows.) It's easy to get mad at him for sabotaging games with bad shooting, but they wouldn't be in position to lose a lot of those games without him. No one's going to come in and replace that role. To make matters worse, KG will be a year older, and the team is capped out going into this offseason. They can't add anyone aside from whoever they trade Pierce for.

        • CelticsBIG3

          This is absolutely true of Gay. I live in CT so I attend Uconn games once in a while and while Gay was there I NEVER thought he would receive the type of attention and money he has in the NBA. I always looked at him as a glorified dunker who really wasn't anything special. I still feel the same way, the guy just really isn't that good.

        • Banner18

          Interesting. Although I agree with his outrageous contract, he is an allstar swingman, and their are much higher paid players in this league. As for attitude, I don't consider that a problem in Boston, not as long as KG is around at least. Garnett dosen't allow it (see for details :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GXgFC8q32Q). This is the NBA, players make dumb decisions of course, but Boston's track record speaks for itself. Big Baby, D West, Bill Walker,and Sean Williams are all grade A punks, but sure enough they kept their mouth shut and played the game. In any case, picture a Rondo/Gay 2 on 1 fast break. Scary.

          • Phil725

            But that's the thing, Gay's not like the guys you mention where if you keep them in line they're not a problem, I'd actually feel very confident taking someone like that in with KG and Doc (Josh Smith would be the best example among people currently available.) The problem with Gay's attitude is that while he's not a problem, he adds another level to the malaise that's hurt this team all year. How many times has Doc questioned the team's effort? He would basically be a star on this team if Pierce was gone, and that kind of attitude magnifies with role.

            That's secondary to my concern about his on court fit though. Fast breaking is cool and all, but is he really more deadly there than Jeff Green or Chris Wilcox? Rondo's good enough in the fast break that he can finish with anyone running with him. The half court is where the team struggles, and Gay would be adding a volume shooter who needs the ball in his hands (he clashes with Rondo stylistically.) He's Paul Pierce without the off court leadership, passing ability and a 3pt shot. He's not the answer. I'd rather just give this core another run in 13-14 if blowing it up doesn't happen.

            Edit – Also, I believe Gay's contract runs two more years after this one, while Pierce's is only partially guaranteed next year and done after that. With the contracts already on the roster you wouldn't just be over the cap until 2016 with Gay, you'd be paying the tax. You can't just keep adding more and more money in this new CBA, you'll get destroyed.

  • jpbl1976

    Ainge's job is incredibly difficult:

    1. He can't trade Rondo because he'll get cents to the dollar even if the other team in a theoretical trade agrees to waive his medical. Rondo's basically off the table;
    2. Outside of KG and Pierce, his only real trade assets are Avery and Sully (and Melo, if you believe that — I've seen him do more funny/comic things than play meaningful NBA minutes so there's no way of knowing what we've got stashed over in Maine). I imagine Ainge would probably fight tooth and nail to keep those two since they're young and they're only going to get better. Put it this way: Avery and Sully are the types of assets you BRING IN, not ship out. Outside of Andre Drummond, I would not trade those two for another player;
    3. Ainge could theoretically trade the vets (Green/Terry/Bass/Lee) but he'd probably not get any good assets for those three because their value's depressed and the ones most likely to roll the dice (contenders and fringe playoff teams) won't likely be sending back good assets in return; and
    4. KG's no-trade clause and serious contemplation of retirement at last season's end probably scuttles any attempt to trade him. He's a very loyal and proud fellow and I don't see him pulling a Ray Allen "jump to a contender" routine just for a chance at another title. KG's basically a lock to retire as a Celtic — and probably as the 2nd best Celtic defensive player after Bill Russell. In my mind, KG should've retired with 3 titles (2009 and 2010) but it's looking likely he'll have to make do with 1. It's painful to see him go down like this — I've liked him since he was at 'Sota (I even still have all his shoes) and was ecstatic when the C's got him.

    Boston is in a tough, tough place, rebuilding-wise. Judging from the Miami game and the fact that there are sorrier stories than theirs in the East, the C's are probably good enough to squeak into the playoffs as an 8th seed — but without Rondo, a title is essentially impossible.

    Moreover, even if they decide to blow it up, they probably won't get fair value for Pierce and, as I've opined, KG probably can't be used as a trade piece. I don't honestly know if delaying the blow-up by a year would make a huge difference so why not give them a shot? We owe it to the Truth and 'Ticket to let them go down fighting.

    In the first place, even if the Celtics somehow got the 1st overall pick for the 2013 draft, there isn't a franchise star there. Zeller? Shabazz? McLemore? Those guys are projected as 3 of the 5 top picks in June. According to NBADraft.net, their NBA analogues are Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, LaMarcus Aldridge and Ray Allen, respectively. Even in their prime, you couldn't win a title with any of those 3 as your main guy.

    The fact is, when you're talking about the Celtics, you're looking for a title so if you're building from the draft, what you want is exactly the kind of guy (a Tim Duncan or Kevin Durant) they haven't had any luck getting; as I posted in another thread, the Celtics have an awful recent history (1997 and 2007) when it comes to going for broke on the 1st pick.

    Second, I know there are many Rondo haters here who want to trade him — but his injury could be a blessing-in-disguise for him and the Celtics in that it could force him to improve his stroke. As it stands, Rondo's mid-range jumper is already quite good, contrary to what the haters are all claiming: he's shooting 48% from there per NBA.com's advanced stats. He just needs to improve his free throw shooting and 3-point accuracy — especially from the corner. A lot of stat geeks will tell you that corner 3's are the most efficient shot in basketball.

    I know some people are saying that Rondo's currently mediocre FT shooting is a harbinger of the fact that he'll never be a good shooter (since most great FT shooters are pretty good from the line) from deep but they only have to look at former Celtic's Bruce Bowen's history to know that there are exceptions to that. In 02-03, Bowen shot 44% from deep — leading the NBA — but made just 40% of his FT. For his career, Bowen was a shade under 40% from 3 and only 58% from the line. Rondo's obviously got more talent than Bowen ever did and on that basis, I believe he can develop into a good 3-point shooter if he works on it.

    Given all this, my thinking is just to let the Celtics ride it out this season with a few tweaks to make them competitive. After the season's over, that's the time to seriously entertain blowing things up. Selling our assets right now would be like unloading your stock portfolio during the trough of the market — savvy traders always wait for a rebound before trading out — and Danny likes to think of himself as savvy…

    • Vincent

      If they can get a few cases of basketballs and socks for Terry and Bass, they should take 'em.

  • Chief

    @Jpbl1976 +1 couldn’t have said it better, if it means trading our future (sully and ab) then it’s not worth it.

  • NZNICK33

    I'm not sure if anyone else has noticed, but the C's that everyone keeps hating on seem to be steadily improving (with the exception of Bass). Lee & Green in particular have played much better of late and even Terry has shown signs of removing the fork from his back.
    I don't think this team is done, and I think it's only fair to give them a fighting chance.

  • Banner18

    A lot to say after that roller coaster win. Some key things I noticed throughout this game: Jeff Green stepping up HUGE on both ends of the court (unbelievable iso D on LeBron's last few possessions), Pierce showing signs of life again after the most forgettable 9 straight games of his career, and of course KG putting the team on his back once again. Nonetheless, this had to have been the most entertaining Sunday showcase since the in famous Rondo heroics back on March 4th (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5qOWIgyL2M). Again, loved to see Pierce that fired up and emotional on such an important game. As for Rondo's situation..thank god this team is so deep! Safe to say its not in this teams best interest to make any large deals, although I think Danny should be receptive to any Rudy Gay or Gasol options. Other than that, I think Scal brought up a good point in signing Delonte West. A veteran scorer who has worked with Doc in the past and who has also ran into minimal problems here (excluding alteractions with JR Giddens during practice). Need to stay optimistic at a time like this.

  • Danny

    Did the celtics really just win a 2ot game against the heat and lose rondo for the year on the same day. It’s like Xmas and the first day of school on the same day. Uncontained excitement at winning a hard fought game against the nbas best. And a sad realization that there’s a long dark road of uncertainty ahead of you. Well at least that’s how I felt bout the first day of school as a kid lol. I hated school.