Author Topic: Most fun I've had watching the Celtics all year. Rambling thoughts  (Read 1524 times)

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Offline LarBrd33

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When KG first arrived here, the fear was that Rondo would be the weak link for our championship hopes.  Most of the fans/analysts weren't all that concerned, though.  We all kind of expected Kevin Garnett to average 7+ assists.  KG was one of the best passing bigs in the league and he had never been surrounded with players like Ray Allen and Paul Pierce.  KG had averaged 5-6 assists for a long period of his career and it just made sense to have the ball flow through him on every possession.

I was surprised that didn't happen.   For the most part, the ball flowed through Pierce in that championship year.  That was a role Pierce had always been comfortable with.  A dynamic scorer with solid passing ability.

Ray had his role the most drastically changed.  When I watched him in Seattle at his peak, the ball would flow through him constantly.  He was as much a star (if not more so) than Pierce.  He'd create his own shot and knock them down from anywhere on the court.  In Boston, they gradually started turning him into Rip Hamilton.  To be fair, it was probably necessitated by Ray's age, but we are now aware that Ray wasn't comfortable with expanding role of Rondo.  Ray felt he was still capable of having the ball in his hands once in a while.

What I'm getting at is this... I've pointed out at least 8 times on this forum that Boston tended to win games when Rondo sat.  It's not like we were "better" without Rondo... it just so happened that guys (usually Pierce) would step up in his absence and carry the load.  It seemed like in the rare instances where Rondo sat, it was liberating for guys like Pierce.  Pierce spent a decade controlling the ball.  KG spent 12 years as the go-to scorer.  With Rondo out, they got to throw back the clock and prove they still had it.

Over the years, Danny has tried to trade Rondo.  We've tried trading him for bigs (like Pau Gasol), we've tried trading him for superstars (like Chris Paul)... and we've tried trading him for guards who would have been a better fit next to our stars (like Steph Curry).   If you believe the many rumors, we were turned down on every deal.  Having a weak offensive point guard with excellent passing ability apparently isn't the most desirable star asset in the league.   I debated for a long time with folks about the Steph Curry deal.  Their argument was that Curry couldn't play point (pass) as well as Rondo.  My argument was that we didn't need someone to pass as well as Rondo... we'd have more to gain by having Curry's shooting around Pierce, KG and Ray... who were more than capable of sharing the ball with each other.  In fact, I once argued that Boston would probably play just as well with Jose Calderon as with Rondo.

THat's not to say Jose Calderon is better all-around than Rondo.  He definitely isn't.  He's unquestionably a better shooter though.. and if you stuck Calderon out there with Pierce, KG and Ray... I figured we'd be pretty dangerous.

So anyways... Ray bailed for a variety of reasons I don't blame him for.  We scrambled and filled his role the best backup guards available:  Courtney Lee, Terry and Barbosa.  We didn't get those guys because they were the best fit.. they just were the best guys we could sign.  Boston, now firmly in the grasp of Rondo's quarterbacking, wanted to get these guards to adapt to Rondo...  why not turn them all into Rip Hamilton too, right?  But that isn't what they are.  All three of them are most effective at creating their own shots.  Meanwhile, the team's 4th best player (Jeff Green) had been stuck in a role that didn't fit him either.  He's not Rip Hamilton either.  He's someone who needs the ball and needs to create.

So then, nothing about these past 6 games surprises me.  I know its only 6 games, but it's pretty much exactly what I'd expect from this collection of players.  Losing Rondo is a bummer, but if we were going to lose him any year... this was the best year to do it.  This myth had been growing that Boston's old players needed Rondo to set them up with pretty passes, but it just wasn't true.  These guys were still doing work without the ball (running around to get open, fighting through screens, popping out), and a lot of the time Rondo would simply stand at the key and kick it out for a stat-padding assist.  Now, we have guys playing basketball.  Guys sharing the ball.  Terry is creating.  Barbosa is creating.  Lee is creating.  Jeff Green is proving why I've been calling him the 4th best player on the team (#1 KG, #2 Pierce, #3 Rondo).  He's solid.   Point guard-sized Bradley has moved over to point guard by default... meaning that our back court is now one of the best defensive tandem in the league.  We have the option of posting up now and letting other players take it to the hole now that Rondo isn't out there (his defender would slack off and there wouldn't be as much spacing).  It's just been a joy to watch.  I don't know if it will continue, but I see no reason to believe we will not at least continue to be the mediocre .500 team we've been all year.  And if by some miracle we are able to land another impact big, we could make serious noise. 

I'm loving the way we are playing.  Rondo is a talented guy and he certainly gets a lot of stats.  He's usually in the top 5 statistically.  This year (his best yet), for instance, he was 4th statistically behind Chris Paul, Westbrook and Tony Parker... just ahead of Kyrie Irving who is nipping as his heels.  I'm going to go out on the limb, though, and say that Rondo will never average these kind of stats again.  Pandora's box has been opened.  Boston has seen the light.  They now know that sharing the ball works as well (if not better) than making Rondo a quarterback and everyone else on the team a receiver.  I think Rondo's days of averaging 11 assists a night are over.  He'll never be a scorer like Chris Paul or a shooter like Steve Nash.  He'll never command a double team like they do and get assists as a result.  As Boston shifts their style of offensive play and Rondo's weaknesses as a shooter are exposed further, we might see pressure to move him.  Alternatively, we can surround Rondo with nothing but pure shooters like JJ Reddick and continue letting him dominant the ball on every possession.  But then you can say goodbye to the Freedom Offense.     

 
« Last Edit: February 08, 2013, 02:19:01 PM by LarBrd33 »

Re: Most fun I've had watching the Celtics all year. Rambling thoughts
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2013, 02:07:40 PM »

Offline AB_Celtic

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TP. Good read.


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Re: Most fun I've had watching the Celtics all year. Rambling thoughts
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2013, 02:07:52 PM »

Offline lightspeed5

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rondo is better defender, rebounder, passer, hustler, and less injury prone than curry.

Re: Most fun I've had watching the Celtics all year. Rambling thoughts
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2013, 02:12:11 PM »

Offline LarBrd33

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rondo is better defender, rebounder, passer, hustler, and less injury prone than curry.
When I'm looking for skills in my POINT GUARD, typically "elite rebounding" isn't at the top of my list.  Rondo's an excellent passer.  You could be right that he's a better defender and hustler than Curry.   Hard to say he's "less injury prone" when he's now out for a year, ya know?

I'd still take Curry over him.  In this league you need great scoring and great defense.  Curry is a great scorer.  One of the best shooters in the league.  I'm not sure Rondo is either a great scorer or a great defender.  I stand by that.  I would have taken Curry over Rondo then and I'd take Curry over Rondo now.

When is the last time a team won a championship because they had the most elite passer?  You need scoring.  Rondo's skillset is excellent when you're looking to fill a role... but it's not a skillset of a superstar cornerstone of a franchise. 

The overall point here is... the team's offense doesn't fall off a cliff just because you got rid of your best passer.  Everyone on this team is capable of passing.  With this particular team (meaning KG, Pierce and Ray while he was here), I'd take a great shooter over a great passer.  And it's fair to point out that while we lost our best passer... we also eliminated our worst shooter.  It evens out.

Re: Most fun I've had watching the Celtics all year. Rambling thoughts
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2013, 02:17:43 PM »

Offline CelticConcourse

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rondo is better defender, rebounder, passer, hustler, and less injury prone than curry.

We're just talking about skill relative to the team.
Jeff Green - Top 5 SF

[Kevin Garnett]
"I've always said J. Green is going to be one of the best players to ever play this game"

Re: Most fun I've had watching the Celtics all year. Rambling thoughts
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2013, 02:25:10 PM »

Offline LarBrd33

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rondo is better defender, rebounder, passer, hustler, and less injury prone than curry.

We're just talking about skill relative to the team.
Right.  If you're a team deprived of rebounding, I guess having a point guard who can pull down boards is a bonus.  But then again, I think part of the reason Rondo's been able to pull down so many boards is because we're deprived of Rebounding.  If we had a Dwight Howard or Kevin Love on this team, I wouldn't give a crap about whether or not my point guard could pull down rebounds.

We lost a lot of stats (13 points and 11 assists) with Rondo sitting out.  And this is probably a massive jinx, but I think we have the players on this team who can make up for the loss.  The scoring is easy to replace.  And everyone on this team is now getting more assists.

If the clippers lost Chris Paul (their 2nd or 1st best scorer, their most clutch player, the leader of their offense, their facilitator) it would be disastrous for them.  When the Bulls lost Rose last year they went from being the best team in the league to being eliminated in the 1st round by an 8th seed.  But Rondo's main weapon is his passing ability.  He's not an elite scorer.  He's not clutch.  Frankly, he's always been a little bit of a liability down the stretch, because he can't hit free throws.   When he is missing, we have guys who can share the ball and fill the stat sheet.  It means a different offense, but it can be just as effective of an offense (as we've seen during the last 6 games).


Re: Most fun I've had watching the Celtics all year. Rambling thoughts
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2013, 02:28:17 PM »

Offline pearljammer10

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I haven't been as excited during a celtics game like I was during that 45 second stretch last night in a long long looooong time. I felt like I was watching the thunder. It felt really good to not be bored all game because of no movement or fast breaks.

Re: Most fun I've had watching the Celtics all year. Rambling thoughts
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2013, 02:35:45 PM »

Offline Smokeeye123

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Can someone post a video of that stretch?

Re: Most fun I've had watching the Celtics all year. Rambling thoughts
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2013, 02:36:35 PM »

Online BballTim

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  How many more times Rondo averages 11+ assists is interesting. There's no real reason to expect it to stop but it's pretty rare. He's doing it for the 3rd year in a row, the only players that have done it more than 3 times in their careers are Nash, Magic and Stockton. Rondo regularly goes through long(ish) stretches where he gets more assists than any player currently in the league have ever gotten over the same stretch of games, so it's reasonably likely that he'll keep it up.

Re: Most fun I've had watching the Celtics all year. Rambling thoughts
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2013, 02:37:12 PM »

Offline AB_Celtic

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Can someone post a video of that stretch?



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Re: Most fun I've had watching the Celtics all year. Rambling thoughts
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2013, 02:38:00 PM »

Offline LarBrd33

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I haven't been as excited during a celtics game like I was during that 45 second stretch last night in a long long looooong time. I felt like I was watching the thunder. It felt really good to not be bored all game because of no movement or fast breaks.
I watch watching it alone and that sequence of Jeff Green's dunk... then coasting back down the court for a block made me squeal like a little girl.  I scared the hell out of my cat.

Re: Most fun I've had watching the Celtics all year. Rambling thoughts
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2013, 02:41:24 PM »

Offline scaryjerry

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This team is relishing and flourishing not having any pressure or expectations and the momentum has been a snowball in the right direction since rondo got injured quite frankly..last night was certainly fun...flashbacks of 07 chemistry

Re: Most fun I've had watching the Celtics all year. Rambling thoughts
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2013, 02:43:52 PM »

Offline LarBrd33

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  How many more times Rondo averages 11+ assists is interesting. There's no real reason to expect it to stop but it's pretty rare. He's doing it for the 3rd year in a row, the only players that have done it more than 3 times in their careers are Nash, Magic and Stockton. Rondo regularly goes through long(ish) stretches where he gets more assists than any player currently in the league have ever gotten over the same stretch of games, so it's reasonably likely that he'll keep it up.
All the players you mention were superior scorers than Rondo and averaged more points.  They were so dangerous on offense that they'd often commanded double teams.. hence their ability to get assists.  They'd find the guy who had a defender cheating.   

Rondo's assists are more due to the structure of his team's offense.  They fill the floor with players who are expected to get open and wait for a pass.  Even our bigs are told to act less like traditional bigs and more like mid-range shooters so that ROndo has more opportunities to penetrate and kick out.  This team basically is built as if Rondo is a quarterback, and the other 4 players on the team his receivers. 

My point is, now that they are seeing plenty of evidence that a free-flowing/ball-sharing offense can work just as well, it will be difficult to go back to that constrained Rondo-centric system.  And if they ask Rondo to play this "freedom offense", they may run into some road blocks, because Rondo is a bit of a liability without the ball and teams don't respect his shooting ability.   

His best chance of continuing to be a player who gets 11+ assists is for us (or whatever team he ends up) to surround him with elite shooters who can continue to spread the floor and knock down open shots.  That's probably where the recent rumor about us desperately going after JJ reddick came from.

Re: Most fun I've had watching the Celtics all year. Rambling thoughts
« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2013, 02:55:36 PM »

Offline GreenEnvy

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I agree with just about everything you said. From KG and Pierce (still) better/more important than Rondo to how well Steph Curry would fit in here instead to (hopefully) the days of Rondo averaging 11 assists be over.

His insane statistical performances are all fun and dandy, but not in a loss or when he follows it up with a total no-show not nationally televised.

When I learned of the injury, it was a total gut punch, but only because I felt DA would panic and attempt to move Pierce and ultimately KG would want out too.

A few weeks ago after the Honey Nut Cheerios game, I was watching the Knicks post game show for more details about the altercation, but was listening to the NYK players talk about the game and I heard Novak talk about how we have so many good one on one players. At first I was like sure, everyone is good one on one to a guy who plays defense like him, but I started thinking about it more and watching for it. Pierce obviously is, and KG is too. Find him in his sweet spot and he will nail the jumper or make moves in the post. Barbosa and Terry are clearly better with the ball than spot up shooters. Green is versatile, often only needing a side cleared out for him. Lee has a nice handle and shoots well from all over off the dribble.

Not every player in the NBA prefers setting/running through screens for 16 seconds per possession while the PG surveys the action above the 3 point line. Watch how much energy KG wastes each possession setting picks and deeking defenders so Rondo can find the open man.

Nobody knows how long this will continue. Maybe til Sunday, maybe through June. The offense looks more cohesive and the defense is elite now. Another big to clean the glass and prevent second chances can make us a contender IMO.
I AM A CELTIC

Re: Most fun I've had watching the Celtics all year. Rambling thoughts
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2013, 03:19:52 PM »

Online BballTim

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  How many more times Rondo averages 11+ assists is interesting. There's no real reason to expect it to stop but it's pretty rare. He's doing it for the 3rd year in a row, the only players that have done it more than 3 times in their careers are Nash, Magic and Stockton. Rondo regularly goes through long(ish) stretches where he gets more assists than any player currently in the league have ever gotten over the same stretch of games, so it's reasonably likely that he'll keep it up.
All the players you mention were superior scorers than Rondo and averaged more points.  They were so dangerous on offense that they'd often commanded double teams.. hence their ability to get assists.  They'd find the guy who had a defender cheating.   

  This isn't really the case. Stockton and Nash didn't score much more than Rondo when they were his age. Also, teams don't generally double team jump shooting point guards. When Stockton or Nash got into the lane they'd get doubled, so does Rondo. Did their defenders stay closer to them when they had the ball? Yes. That's the main difference.

Rondo's assists are more due to the structure of his team's offense.  They fill the floor with players who are expected to get open and wait for a pass.  Even our bigs are told to act less like traditional bigs and more like mid-range shooters so that ROndo has more opportunities to penetrate and kick out.  This team basically is built as if Rondo is a quarterback, and the other 4 players on the team his receivers. 

  That would be the case if Rondo wasn't able to rack up assists in transition (he is), get assists to people cutting towards the basket (he does) or get easy assists to bigs that can finish at the rim (he does). You've frequently claimed that Rondo needs to have bigs who stretch the floor to get assists, that's obviously not the case as he's done quite well with bigs that weren't great mid-range shooters. You've claimed that he needs someone like Ray (or Ray in particular) to get assists, he still gets just as many with players like Lee and Bradley in Ray's spot. There's no reason to believe your other reasons Rondo won't be able to get assists will prove to be more accurate.

My point is, now that they are seeing plenty of evidence that a free-flowing/ball-sharing offense can work just as well, it will be difficult to go back to that constrained Rondo-centric system.  And if they ask Rondo to play this "freedom offense", they may run into some road blocks, because Rondo is a bit of a liability without the ball and teams don't respect his shooting ability.

  They'll probably go back to a more Rondo-centric offense than what they're running without a point guard. Hopefully they'll stay more uptempo (something Rondo does well). They'll probably end up with more ball movement than we had earlier this year but we've had more ball movement in the past and Rondo's still gotten plenty of assists.

 

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