The Boston Celtics are coming off a 41-40 season (only played 81 games; 1 game was cancelled and never rescheduled), which was good enough for the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference, but were eliminated by their rival, the New York Knicks in six games. In the end, Rondo’ s season-ending ACL injury was just too much of a burden for this Celtics team, as their offense just wasn’t getting the same open looks they were earlier in the season with Rondo running the show. Then all Celtic fans went through one of the craziest off-seasons in recent memory.
This “crazy” off-season consisted of sending Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets for Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks, Kris Joesph, and their first round picks for 2014, 2016, and 2018. Then they shipped off highly regarded head coach Doc Rivers for a 2015 first round pick. After they lost Doc Rivers, they signed the very popular, young Brad Stevens, whom coached at Butler for the last six years. You think with all these off-season moves they are trying to tank for the number one pick, but this team could be better than you think.
Depending on how long Rondo is out to begin the season, or if he even misses the beginning of the season will be crucial on determining how good this season is for them. If he misses more than a month to begin the season, they will likely have a top ten pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, but if he plays all the way through, they have a chance to make the playoffs. To prove how important Rondo will be to their success, here are some numbers of the Celtics’ offensive production before and after Rondo’s injury. With Rondo, Boston shot 47% from the field and 38% from three-point land while averaging 98.1 points per game. Without Rondo, Boston shot 41% from the field and 33% from three-point range while averaging 93.2 points per contest. The reason there was such a big drop was because of his incredible handling and ability to make the defense collapse on his dribble penetration, then hit the open shooter right where he wants it. Rondo will also let Avery Bradley do what he does best: move without the ball, hit open jumpers, and shut down the opposing team’s best guard.
Avery Bradley was affected the most by the loss of Rondo because that made Bradley have to become the main ball handler when that isn’t his game whatsoever. Bradley’s True Shooting % before the Rondo injury was .562 which is better than Kyrie Irving, Ty Lawson, and Manu Ginobili, but after Rondo’s injury, Bradley’s % dropped all the way to .360. This is because he had to start taking more shots on the move, pulling up, and contested three’s with no real play-maker to help let him play off the ball. But the man who flourished when Rondo went down was Jeff Green. His PER went up from 12.01 before the injury, to 18.02 after the injury. And with Pierce, Garnett, and Terry out, he’s only going to get more shots, and probably become Rondo’s new favorite target.
The Celtics’ season lies solely on the health of their star point guard. If he’s healthy, the playoffs are a very attainable goal for this team, but if he’s out an extended period of time, you could very easily see their name in the lottery.