- Bradford Doolittle
Eastern Conference guards were going down all over the place this weekend. Derrick Rose's season ended because of a heart-wrenching knee injury. The same happened to the New York Knicks and Iman Shumpert. Now a Boston Celtics team already dealing the absence of Ray Allen faces the specter of a Game 2 without Rajon Rondo. Unlike the injuries, Rondo's absence is entirely self-induced. And if the suspension had been for more than one game, it could have had more of an impact on who gets out of the first round than even the Chicago Bulls' loss of Rose. In that respect, the Celtics dodged a bullet.
Rondo had 20 points and 11 assists in Sunday's game. That's a nice outing, even before we provide any context to those numbers whatsoever. In raw points and assists, Rondo accounted for more than half of Boston's meager total of 74 points. When he was off the floor, the Celtics scored five points in five minutes and hit just two of nine shots from the floor.
The Celtics were an unbalanced team entering the playoffs as it was, pairing the league's second-best defense with the 24th-ranked offense. That disparity was also true during the latter part of the season, when Boston rode its lockdown defense to a 24-10 finish. After the All-Star break, the Celtics ranked first in the league in defensive points per possession. The offense lagged at 26th.
Bradford Doolittle says the Boston Celtics are better with Rajon Rondo, but they've shown they can survive without him.