Are The Boston Celtics Better Without Rondo?


There was a good article on Red's Army the other day asking the question that most Boston Celtics fans are asking since Rondo went down with an ACL injury back in January: are the Celtics better without him?

Looking at the Celtics record, you'd certainly have to conclude that they are better. The Celtics were 20 and 23 through the first 43 games of the season with Rondo. Since he went down, they're 16 and 6.

When you dive a bit deeper into the numbers, you'll find that the Celtics offense (the part of the game where Rondo thrives) is almost exactly the same from a statistical perspective. They have virtually the same shot percentage, 3-point percentage and points per game.

But when you look at the defense (something that basketball fans often forget is 50% of the game) then you do see that the Celtics have improved. Boston has a defensive rating of 100.5 points per possession when Rondo is on the floor. When he's off the floor that drops to 98.3, which translates to about a 4 points per game improvement without him in the lineup.

So the Celtics are the same on offense and a little bit better on defense. But I don't think this kind of analysis really captures some of the important intangibles:

  • The attitude of the team seems to be a lot better.
  • The younger and newer guys are getting the ball a lot more and feel more empowered.
  • They don't take as many nights off.
  • They don't fight with the refs as much.
  • They're spreading the offense around and playing at a faster pace.
  • Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett have been forced to take back their leadership role.
  • The team seems much more coachable.

Obviously all of these things are hard to measure but there's no doubt they make a difference. I have to say, I really like this team without Rondo.

But all of that said, it'll be interesting to see how they perform without him in the playoffs. They don't really have a young superstar on the court without him. And often that's what you need in the playoffs. It's awfully easy to forget that Rondo was the Celtics leading scorer in 3 of the 7 playoff games with the Heat last year and that he put up 44 points in game 2.

The good news is that we will get some closure on this soon. Right now the Celtics are slated to play the Knicks in the first round of the playoffs. If the Celtics show they can play with the best teams without Rondo, they will have some clarity and may have to make some tough decisions in the offseason. On the other hand, if they get knocked out early, a lot of sportswriters will have some apologizing to do. I'm looking forward to watching.

Two Good Super Bowl Commercials

There were two Super Bowl commercials that caught my eye the other night.  One really funny one from Doritos and a somewhat serious, but very cool one from Dodge, narrated by the great Paul Harvey. I've embedded both below.

Doritos - Goat For Sale


Dodge Ram - Farmer


Some Thoughts on the Celtics

Big threeMy favorite Boston sports team is, by far, the Celtics. I grew up in the era of Bird, McHale, Parish, Johnson and Ainge. This was back when nobody went to Red Sox games and the Patriots were a joke.

The Celtics had a great year this year and came within a few minutes of advancing to the third championship of the "Big Three" era.

The consensus seems to be that the "better team" -- the Heat -- won.  I disagree completely. What happened on Saturday night was more about health.

The Heat got their third best player (Chris Bosh) back full time and healthy in game 7.  It's that simple.  That's why they won.  He hit three three pointers and took the Celtics' big men way out of position to open up the lanes for James and Wade.  He had 19 points, 8 rebounds and a very key block.

If the Celtics got their fourth best player (Avery Bradley) back full time for game 7 it would've been a different result.  The better team didn't win; the team that got healthy just in time for when it mattered won.

No doubt this is the end of the road of the five year run of the Big Three in Boston. It was an unforgettable group. Their heart, commitment and unmatched defense will be remembered in Boston for a long, long time to come.

Bill Simmons wrote a column about the team back in March the day after they beat a very tough Clippers team in Los Angeles. He ended the column with these words and I'll do the same with this post.

We’ll always have that final minute after the Clippers fans filed out, when it was just the sea of green and a nodding Pierce happily soaking in those "Let’s go Celtics!" chants again. Leave them alone and the 2012 Boston Celtics will go down swinging. That’s all we know, and frankly, that’s good enough for me.

Some Thoughts on the Super Bowl

Being from the Boston area, I'm a pretty big Patriots fan.  So watching last night's game was miserable.  Though, being objective, I have to admit it was a great game to watch.

A few things came to mind while I was trying -- unsuccessfully -- to get some sleep after the game.

Rob Gronkowski's ankle injury had a huge impact.  When a big tight end can't make quick lateral cuts, it's almost impossible for him to be an effective receiver.  Brady's interception was clear evidence that Gronkowski's ankle had an impact.  I don't recall ever seeing a linebacker defending a receiver that far down the field.  The ankle injury allowed a slower defender to cover him and freed up the corners and safeties to cover the Patriots’ receivers.

On the last drive of the second quarter, Brady ate up the Giant defense with his typical quick, short passes.  He was 10 for 10 on the 98 yard drive, virtually neutralizing the Giants' pass rush.  The Giants made a big adjustment at the beginning of the second half by rushing only 3 linemen; putting one man on Gronkowski and a tight zone on the rest of the receivers.  Brady had plenty of time to throw but nobody was open.  The Patriots couldn't adjust to the new scheme quickly enough and as a result could only put up 7 points in the second half.

Making quick adjustments is critical in business and sports.  The game you’re playing in today is going to be much, much different in six months or a year.  

Check out James Surowiecki’s New Yorker column this week on RIM and the fall of the BlackBerry; a company that, much like the Patriots on Sunday, couldn’t adjust until it was too late.