The Boston Celtics have put themselves in a tough spot against the New York Knicks as they head back home. The age of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and company was evident in the first two games of the playoffs, as they were unable to close out games or come up with answers late in the fourth quarter. Fatigue has clearly been a factor, but we must also remember that the Celtics have been missing Rajon Rondo.
Without Rondo, who is out for the season after tearing his ACL, Boston has not been able to keep up with New York’s speed. The Celtics scored 78 points in their Game 1 loss to the Knicks and only 71 in Game 2. JR Smith believes that has a lot to do with the absence of Rondo.
“When Rondo is out there, they are in a certain flow,” Smith told Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix. “When he is not out there, they sort of don’t know who to go to or [what] plays to run. That’s a credit to a great player like Rondo. When he is in the game, he seems to know two or three plays ahead of what they want to do.”
There were points throughout the regular season when the Celtics appeared to be chugging along and talking head radio hosts claimed they were better off without Rondo. That couldn’t be further from the truth, and the Knicks are proving that.
Boston scored only 23 points in the second half of Game 2 against New York — the fewest in the team’s playoff history. If Rondo was in the lineup, that would never happen. Not only that, but Raymond Felton and Smith would not be nearly as effective as they have been if both Rondo and Avery Bradley were healthy.
Smith may say some incredibly dumb things, but he’s spot-on this time. Without Rondo, the Celtics have been lost against the Knicks.
H/T Eye on Basketball
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