After having about 48 hours off to collect themselves and recover from a tough game both on and off the floor Sunday afternoon, the Celtics were back at it practicing today in Waltham, as they tried to figure out how to move forward without the services of Rajon Rondo.
Luckily, the atmosphere was less doom and gloom and more of an opportunity to turn a lackluster season around without their All-Star point guard after playing sub .500 basketball for the past 45 games with him. With potential major deals looming less than a month away if the team’s subpar play continues, the team knows it has to show what it can do right away, to lower the possibility a large portion of the veteran roster will be sent packing.
As far as roster developments surrounding the current team goes, there were no new free agents waiting in the wings at practice today. For now, the deep depth chart Danny Ainge constructed will get a chance to showcase their skills over ample minutes at both guard spots, instead of the team turning to a limited talent pool on the free agent market. I asked Rivers about whether increased consistent players would help the backcourt find better consistency.
“Ya, I think consistency always helps,” Doc Rivers explained. “I think it will help Jet in some ways, just because he’ll have the ball at times…probably more. You know, it may hurt some guys, you just don’t know. That’s the unanswered question. I’m hoping it helps some guys but you never know.”
—Courtney Lee will remain in the starting lineup, paired with Avery Bradley, with Jason Terry and Leandro Barbosa both waiting on the bench to provide an offensive spark.Barbosa is probably the guy that will see the biggest jump in minutes due to Rondo’s absence and that should come as a relief to most CelticsHub readers (and writers) who have been clamoring for a bigger role for LB for a good amount of time. Barbosa chose his words carefully (and wisely) when asked about whether an increase in minutes would lead to better production for him on the floor.
“I don’t know about that,” Barbosa acknowledged. “When I get that minutes, that’s when we are going to see. I haven’t been playing a lot of minutes for awhile, but I’ve been learning a lot of things from the team, talking with the coaches., so I kind of know everything that is going on the court. It don’t matter, if I have the minutes, I’ll try to do my best.”
By the way, Rondo’s injury show be cited as THE example on why you don’t give in to playing time complaints or try to deal extra depth on the roster. Imagine if the C’s cut loose Barbosa a few weeks back? They’d be in a bigger hole right now.
—Rivers also confirmed Jared Sullinger will remain in the starting lineup in place of the slumping Brandon Bass for Wednesday’s game against the Kings. Sullinger had seven points, four rebounds, three steals and just one(!) foul against the Heat in 22 minutes tonight. He was sidelined for most of the second half when the C’s went small, but Doc was satisfied with his play.
“He didn’t play a lot. It was the wrong game to really start him, because it ended up being a small ball game. I was happy. I thought he got a terrible tech that he had nothing to do with, but I liked that he was an instigator, I’m all for that,” Rivers said.
The Sully era has begun again in Boston. If he can stay on the floor for 30-35 minutes a night, avoiding cheap fouls, that could be just as crucial as anything to a potential resurgence for this squad over the next few weeks. Bass was semi-useful in the first quarter against Miami off the bench, but will need to start hitting his shot again to see anymore time on the floor if Sullinger’s foul trouble free.