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Make It Three in a Row: Celtics 97, Magic 84

Orlando Magic 84 Final

Recap | Box Score

97 Boston Celtics

Five Things We Saw

  1. Who needs Rondo? Who needs Sullinger? The Celtics certainly don’t when they are playing an injury riddled Magic team. The Celtics, sans two impact players or any semblance of urgency, were still able to dominate the Magic. Even Jeff Green and Courtney Lee looked blasé on their thunderous dunks. The Celtics’ nonchalant style of play didn’t hurt them until the 3rd quarter, when the Magic somehow cut the Celtics lead to just three. Doc Rivers called a timeout just a little over three minutes into the second half to berate his players for the lack of effort. “[Doc] called a timeout and got on us a little bit,” explained Courtney Lee. “[He] told us, ‘stop winding down, this game’s not over yet, 48 minutes, finish it out.’ We got back out there and was [sic] able to get stops and execute.” And they certainly did. By the time the buzzer sounded to end the third quarter, the C’s lead had ballooned to 13.
  2. This game served as a reminder that the Celtics made the right decision in cutting ties with E’Twaun Moore. Don’t get me wrong. Moore is an intriguing young player who has played well when given minutes. However, he would be playing big minutes for the Celtics right now instead of Leandro Barbosa. Who would you rather have, Moore or Barbosa?
  3. The Celtics scored 56 points in the paint tonight, which is WAYYYYYY up from their average of 39. The Celtics rank 26th overall in terms of scoring points in the painted area. Tonight, they had as many as the league leader, the Denver Nuggets, average. Unfortunately, this can’t be indicative of the post-Rondo and Sullinger roster. It was undoubtedly a factor of the porousness of the Magic’s defense.
  4. Speaking of the post-Rondo/Sullinger Celtics, the overall feeling of the boxscore is likely what we’re going to see going forward. The C’s had six players in double figures, and Paul Pierce had double-digit rebounds. While it’s unlikely we’ll consistently see totals like that, the success of the C’s is likely to hinge on balance. This just doesn’t feel sustainable. The two blowout wins are likely more indicative of catching bad teams at right times than evidence of the C’s being better without Rondo and Sully. Either way, it should be a wild ride on the way to finding out.
  5. This game could have been a lot closer had the Celtics not capitalized off Magic miscues. The C’s finished the game forcing 15 turnovers and turning those into 20 points. It’s these points that stretch leads, keep momentum, and are the difference between a five point lead and a ten point lead.
  • Phil725

    I'm starting to see how the whole team dynamic is shifting; I don't think the box score is going to be predictable at all from game to game. Some nights Pierce will score more, some nights the Lee/Bradley pairing will play most of the minutes, then there will be times like tonight when Terry/Barbosa are lighting things up and not being exposed on the other end. A full 4th quarter of garbage time (in a good way) every game is obviously not sustainable, but I think the team can continue to be fun to watch. A team where everyone contributes and fights is almost always fun. If anything, I've seen nothing to make me think the offense will struggle more than it already was.

    I don't think this game tells us much, but I do like what I'm seeing from the wide open style of play/offense. The spacing looks good and I love how the ball moves. Big test on Sunday though: Struggling or not, the Clippers are perfectly capable of destroying the Cs on the boards to the point that nothing else matters. It'll be a big time test for elite rebounder, Paul Pierce.

  • Tos

    Who’s going to be the first dumb a** to say the C’s are better off without Rondo?

    • Phil725

      I don't know, I can't remember that far back. The anti-Rondo crowd has thought that for a while, and it was all over the place as the team struggled with him this year and Rondo disappointed. Plenty of people said it right after the injury.

      I do think losing Sullinger hurts the team more in the regular season, but being without Rondo destroys their playoff ceiling.

    • Sophomore

      I won't say that. I will say that if the Cs had been able to trade Rondo for a big man of roughly equal value they'd have been better off (even without the injury). Rondo can do special things, and we're really, really going to miss him in the playoffs. He has that extra gear you need to score at the end of playoff games, when everybody is playing their best defense. But the falloff from Rondo to Lee/Bradley/Terry/Barbosa is not nearly as large as the falloff from Garnett to Wilcox or, God help us, Collins. And let's not even talk about our situation at the 4.

      • Phil725

        My feelings exactly.

        The underrated thing about the Rondo injury is that he was the perfect trade chip to either go for it all this year 'or' start rebuilding. Now you can't do either.

    • Josh_5

      I will. Rondo dominates the ball too much offensively and ends up "deciding who shoots" every possession. With Rondo out, the ball seems to always find the open guy. Not too mention there seems to be more off all movement/cutting and there's no discriminating on who gets the shot. We will miss Rondos rebounding, but no one player is bigger than the game and your seeing the result. Rondo needs to watch game tape of himself from 2008 and 2009.

      • Mark

        And yet the Rondo-Bradley-Pierce-Bass-KG lineup last season was the best offensive grouping in the league running the same system they have this season.

        Oh, the ball found the open man with Rondo time and time again only Lee, Bass, Terry and even Pierce would miss one wide open look after another. Is that Rondo's fault?

        The issue is guys were getting great looks from Rondo and the shots weren't falling.

  • Josh_5

    You guys, seriously… Jeff Green is fucking NAAASTY!!! My God what has gotten into him lately, I don't normally use the F bomb but it was necessary here. His dunks are so gross that I act like a schoolgirl when I watch them.

    • tbunny

      I didn't know Green could take two steps from the corner and dunk. Now I know.

    • Sophomore

      It's great. The question is whether it's a function of playing against two pretty bad teams that gave almost zero defensive effort. Which will be answered soon.

    • Anthony

      Yep, JGreen deserves some love. I know we don't watch games to see 1 dunk but he's had tons of monster dunks this season. It's also the first time all season he's scored double digits in 4 consecutive games. Hopefully he can keep up the great plays and bring up the James Worthy comparisons again.

  • Phil725

    One other thing that shouldn't be overlooked; only Lee was over 30 minutes, and KG played 23. For a team with 9 guys, that's huge. The #1 concern with these injuries is Doc turning into Thibs from a minutes perspective, and games like tonight really help.

    • CG12

      Deng and Gibson played all 48 minutes last night. Wow.

  • Banner18

    Hopefully Greens confidence carries over to when we play actual contending teams. Huge game on Sunday against the CP3-less Clippers. Very interested in seeing how KG plays Griffin and who he sticks on DeAndre Jordan. May get tix to the game; defiantly will be a fun one to watch.

  • tomrod

    Its not that they are better without Rondo, its that they dont have him to rely on, and they are going to work.
    When Rondo was there, they pretty much let him do everything. Also the usage of Rondo was too much for my taste. Its pretty sad that I think we are gonna find out that just with a tweak here and there this team could have made a lot of noise in the playoffs with Rondo.

  • elroz

    Of course they are not better w/o Rondo1 But when he is absent, Terry, Barbosa, Lee..and others get to move the ball, share the ball around more… it is a less centralized and a little more fluid offense.

    They had their highest scoring half against the Kings…and they had 30 assists tonight…. of course these are bad team – but they payed bad teams this season before w/o putting in these numbers. Instead of everybody trying to fit with Rondo, they are fitting in with themselves more..but I am not saying they are better w/o him. Just not as desperate and clueless as some people assumed.
    Also, not that KG played 23 min and Pierce 29: both below average.

    The team is making a concerted effort to run and move the ball – they had five guys with 4 assists or more – not bad.

  • jr9901

    Of COURSE they're not better without Rondo! How silly can you get?!?!

    Yeah, Terry, Lee, Barbosa, Bass are all playing better. And ok… yeah, they're winning games, whereas they were on a major losing streak the last time Rondo played. And geezuss, YEAH — their defense has improved too. And it's true — OK already! — that the whole team seems much happier since Rondo left. But hey, I don't wanna be the FIRST DUMB A** to say the TEAM is better without Rondo!!! Right?

    Uhh…. wrong. The team which wins more games, plays better, feels better… that team IS BETTER!! I know it's shocking, but that's by definition. So…. who you callin "dumba**", dumba**?

    • ozcelts

      your using a small sample size with some weak opposing teams in the dross of the regular season to make your point- National TV Rondo giving the Heat nightmares in the playoffs is a different beast to league pass Rondo playing the Cavs in January
      Yes, undoubtedly Rondo mails in some games especially defensively but when it matters he shows up

      • tbunny

        Change "some games" to "most games" or "nearly all games".

      • jr9901

        You're right of course, it's a small sample size. But it's not like there's another option. It is what it is… so far. But the fact that several players have expressed their relief over the change is telling (and probably predictive). Also their style of play, on both ends but especially on offense, is much improved, which again points to the probability that the team as a whole is better off now without Rondo.

        When RR returns, he can make this team really fly, IF he realizes his prior flaws and corrects them. I'm hoping for that, because that's a lot of talent he brings to the table.

        Meanwhile… we're about to get more samples. This week should shed a lot of light on this debate.

  • greenboner

    they are fucking better without rondo!everybody needs to take rondos dick out of their mouth and think straight.how many wins will it be before sports writers stop saying its bad teams we beat etc?they were losing to teams like that by 15 on a regular basis and beating them by 3 once in awhile.it blows my mind people cant see this.6 guys got out of a slump on the same day.probably because they are falling asleep watching rondo dribble out the clock after he walks it up.

  • Switcharoo

    Dumbass #1 here. The Cs are better off (right now) without Rondo.
    I like the lil guy just as much as then next, however, his play was becoming erratic, he was inconsistent on both ends of the floor, and working the lock way to much which forced the other guys to settle for midrange jumpers instead of attacking the basket. The proof is in the pudding as they say, the Celtics were getting tramed by below average teams that they should have destroyed, teams the have consistently destroyed for years. I was shocked when the Kings walked all over them out west, could believe they lost to what I consider a joke team…. By a lot. The last three games I’ve seen show a team that’s moving the ball more fluidly and all 5 on the floor are envolved, it’s pretty fun to watch really. I guess only time will tell though and these guys have some bigger games coming up with better teams. For me I’m just happy to see these guys engaged and playing good ball and I hope it keeps on truckin

  • hydrofluoric

    The obvious solution is to sit Rondo for 50 games a regular season and then unleash the beast in the playoffs and in national TV games only.

    • hydrofluoric

      Also… this is very disturbing, but Bass responded to getting his starting job back (and his best game previously) with 6 points on 2/6 shooting…. and posting a -15 in a game where no other Celtic getting over 5 minutes even posted a negative. The +/- in a single game can lie but this represents a truly abysmal trend.

      Glad to see 7 rebounds though.

  • ghoulbuns

    No more grades, huh?

    • CelticsBIG3

      I just mentioned that on the last game and got a response from Robb that they still do grades and will. When?

  • IBleedGreen

    I said it right after the Rondo news broke that we are going to be a better team. I guess I’m a dumbasa by your definition.

  • Danny

    This team can still fight and there’s no shame in going down swinging. We have arguably one the best if not the best defensive backcourt in the league. We still have pierce and KG who have too much pride to lay down n die. This team isn’t dead. They may not win a championship or even make an especially deep playoff run but I have a feeling true celtics fans will be proud of this team when he year is said and done.

    And for those claiming we should blow it up I counter for what? You’re gonna trade pierce to a contender for may a role player and a mid-late first round pick in what’s considered the weakest draft in years. I’m all set. Everyone else is all but unmovable obviously nobody is taking rondo or sully now and nobody wants bass green or terry. This isn’t nba 2k you can’t just trade your scraps for Kevin durant.

    • Josh_5

      I completely agree. This team is showing pride and being very unselfish. They say the whole should be greater than the sum of its parts. I'm seeing this now.

    • Phil725

      The more I read about the team blowing it up, the more I think it's not going to involve Pierce. I just don't think Ainge will be able to pull the trigger. What I could see happening is a move like Jason Terry for an expiring contract. It's not really blowing it up, but it gets the team under the tax line next year and clears 5m off the cap next year and the year after. I'd be shocked if Pierce or KG went anywhere, but if an opportunity presents itself to clear some money at the expense of a role player on this team?

  • emg

    Danny Ainge had a good way of putting the Rondo question on his Weei interview.

    "…Rondo is a guy who goes into *Playoff* games and is not just the MVP of the game, but is the MVP of the *Series* for both teams. There is no other player on the Celtics who that will ever be true about and he's proven it true, not once, but time and time again. The idea that this team is better without him is absurd."

    • Sophomore

      The playoff mode is what makes Rondo so valuable. We've seen the team do great things without Rondo over the past three games, but they were playing against teams with limited talent, putting out almost no defensive effort. I don't see who mans up and makes the big, big buckets you need in the playoffs against a talented and motivated defense.

      I will say the Rondo detractors are not entirely wrong. I wish we could get his playoff mode performance without the (very real) problems Rondo brings the rest of the year. I really am sick of watching him pound the rock for 12 seconds waving his hands. What I want to know is whether he will learn something by watching the team move the ball while he's out. If he's really a top-5 or top-10 player, he will.

  • skeeds

    This dispute over Rondo's importance got very out of hand. Sure, he's not our lord and savior and we shouldn't exaggerate his value, (I'm the first to say he's a very overrated defender), but let's not go to the other extreme. We're not better without him. You know how we're better? If it didn't take Rondo going down for Terry, Lee and PP to realize they have to make plays too.
    It's really Doc's fault. He's the one dictating Rondo's quarterback style of offense. He's been making Terry run Ray's sets through the season, because apparently the playmaking can only be Rondo's job. Which is stupid. (Rondo is a phenomenal cutter off the ball for example. Terry is a perfect pick n roll guy. Why the hell haven't they made a play out of this yet?)
    Only now, when Rondo can't be the distributor, is Doc forced to let others do that job. And suddenly it seems like our guards woke up from hibernation.

    Anyway. Unfortunately, I see this team going the way other depleted C's squads have in recent years. Inspired effort, overachieving gritty play, but destined to hit an inevitable wall. If KG couldn't pull it off last year with no help in the post, he won't this year. If PP broke down from fatigue midway through the playoffs with Rondo healthy, he'll have a harder time handling the huge load he's facing now…
    But hey, what the hell!!! Grit and balls baby! At least now we're the outsider, the castaway, the old guys, like we always like to be!!!

  • KillerGymRat

    Danny is right. That this team is any better without Rondo is absurd. And unfortunately Rondo is taking the blame for Doc's system. You can fairly say (based on the incredibly small sample size) that this team plays better when it shares the ball and doesn't run the offense through a true point guard. But if we had a true backup point guard, he'd be pounding the ball into the floor for 12 seconds and waving his hands and dropping it off for isos or mid-range jumpers since that is the offense that Doc runs. Do people reallly think Rondo could just hold the ball because he wants to hold the ball and two hall-of-famers and one of the top coaches in the league won't have issues with that?

    They don't have issues with it, because that's the offensive system the team was running with a true point guard. And the hand waving is Rondo directing guys who aren't in the right positions. He's doing what the point guard is supposed to do and what Doc wanted him to do. Hate him all you want and fault him for effort or attitude if you care to, but this talk of him slowing down the offense and being the reason the ball didn't move is ridiculous.

    Are we a better team when we don't run that kind of offence? Absolutely. But that's on Doc.

    This new system of play is because without Rondo, nobody (save for Pierce) is capable of getting anyone open looks on their own, so the ball has to constantly move to create openings and opportunities. If you've watched the games you're also noticing guys are moving way more, setting more off ball screens and doing more of a motion offense. Was Rondo making those guys stand around too?

    We've also only really seen it be impressive against two of the worst defenses in basketball. The Rondo-less C's didn't move the ball anywhere near this well against Miami or get as many easy buckets and assists…so it's far too soon to know if shareball leads to baskets against tough D's and in close games when we need theam.

    I certainly do hope it works, but games like Sundays will be really telling and no…this team is not better without Rondo.

  • Mark

    Yes the Celtics are 3-0 since Rondo went down but I'd argue that the last three games saw this team pretty much ad-libbing on the offensive side. The few times they've actually run plays the offense SUCKS because there isn't a single player on this team that is capable of a making something out of nothing like Rondo. Pierce is the closest but the good defenses will simply trap him and either force a turnover or an end of the shot clock shot.

    I don't agree with Donny Marshall with everything but what he said last night at halftime was spot on. What we are seeing are 2 wins against HORRIBLE defensive teams that haven't had time to gameplan for a Rondo-less Celtics team because there isn't much tape. About 10-15 games in other teams will see what the Celtics are doing and shut it down. At that point the C's will have to manufacture points and as we saw during the Miami game this club is very bad doing so without Rondo.

    Organized chaos will not win in the long run and that is what Boston's offense is right now. Not good!

    • Art

      I don't think this team is better without Rondo.

      IMO it took losing Rondo and Sully for this team wake up and realize they have to start playing better.

      Everyone talks about the age of Pierce and Garnett, but what about the youth of Lee, Bradley, and Green? Why all of the sudden are they out and running now? How many times did we see Rondo manufacture one man fast breaks because no one wourld run with him, and when they did they got easy baskets like Wilcox getting easy dunks.

      Consistency was this teams problem with Rondo, and now without Rondo what we're seeing is finally a sense of urgency. IMO everyone was just as capable as playing the way they are now with Rondo as well as without; it just took losing Rondo for them to realize they have to step up and play the way Doc has pleading them to play all season.

      • Phil725

        I think both sides have valid arguments, it doesn't have to be black and white. The team went through the offseason anointing Rondo as their leader and giving him all of the responsibility. You could argue that that was a mistake, but Rondo was definitely on board. That's why you can't completely absolve him when the issues the team faced so closely resemble the issues Rondo's had this year. How can you go out and give it your all every game when your leader is no-showing every other game? I think the criticisms of Doc's offensive sets are valid, but Rondo would also avoid driving to the rim for games at a time. He also wasn't running at every opportunity, even if he called for the outlet pass every time (that's an underrated thing that always bothered me; the Cs have great passers on the break everywhere, why always give the ball to Rondo after a rebound? It saves maybe a second on the other side of the court, and it kills transition ops, especially when he's disengaged.)

        It's not even a three game sample, because we've seen the team improve when Rondo sits all year. I can't stress enough how broken this team was; they had a worse point differential than the Pistons! Whether they just needed to wake up, I don't know, but Rondo's disappointing season was a huge reason.

        Of course, that's just playing devil's advocate. The other side of the story is that you're losing an elite player and one you can't replace. The ceiling of this team has been lowered. That alone means you're not better, even if you play better in the regular season.

  • emg

    In terms of bad luck we're all forgetting Darko leaving to be with ailing mother.

    Darko would be rebounding and passing right now. This team wasn't initially too short on bigs.

    • Phil725

      Darko was never the answer. Even if he turned out to be better than Jason Collins (which he's not,) he would still be playing 10 total minutes every 3 games. Since he's a clubhouse cancer who cares about himself first, not working second, playing time third, and the team somewhere down in the thirties, he would've asked for his release right after the check cleared just like he already did.

  • 2013 Year

    Clippers and Rudy Gay are waiting