One of the great features of Marc Stein’s Weekend Dime pieces over at ESPN.com is his ability to get scouts and other front office personnel to open up on the record about certain teams and players. This week’s edition was one of the best collections yet of voicing scouts’ takes on a number of squads in the NBA, including an opinion on the new-look Celtics. Despite all the recent success they’ve accomplished in nearly the past 20 games now, one scout holds a very low ceiling for Boston’s playoff chances:
Eastern Conference scout on the ceiling for the Rajon Rondo-less Celtics:
“I’ll buy your [contention] that they’re playing happier without him, but when it comes down to the big games, you need a couple a-holes. And Rondo is the leading a-hole Boston has. He affects the game like nobody else.
“During the regular season, I agree, he plays for stats too much, but when it comes to the playoffs, he’s playing to win the game. He’s definitely a diva and he definitely has his issues, but who does Miami have to game-plan for if Rondo isn’t there? Paul Pierce is a warrior, but he’s only going to be able to play 15 top-level minutes out of 30. [Kevin Garnett] is a defensive specialist at this point in time. The totality of the Heat overtakes the totality of the Celtics when Rondo’s not there, but I still think he’s in Miami’s heads and the Celtics are in the Heat’s heads when the teams are at full strength.
“Without Rondo, Miami wins that series in five.”
In response to this assessment, Kevin Garnett already prepared a response after Friday night’s game to all the b***sh** critics out there.