After every game, we’ll take stock of how each individual performance affects the player’s overall value.
Rajon Rondo: Rack up another double-double for Rondo. Among the really positives: Rondo shot 3-4 from the line with the game hanging in the balance. That’s a monumental step. Also, his clutch baskets came in the form of jumpers. I can appreciate the competitive juices that made him want to win the game with that iso at the end of regulation, but he’s not quite there yet. Still, I don’t want to overlook the type of scoring he did in a close game, even if it did come against the Wizards.
Jared Sullinger: Some struggles for Sully in this one. That’s to be expected. He only had 4 rebounds… but it’s actually good that we already think of 4 boards as “only”. He’s setting some high expectations. He didn’t see the floor at all in the 4th or OT, which shows Doc is still going to go with the vets he trusts in key situations.
Courtney Lee: 19 minutes for Lee as his struggles continue. It’s not pretty for him right now. I will continue to say that he’s a damn good player who will figure it out because that level of talent has to rise at some point. Right now, though, it’s a struggle.
Jeff Green: Still looking lost out there for way too long, but then he has a brief flash of brilliance. Green right now is just like my golf game… I’m horrible for 8 holes, but then I’ll birdie and par back-to-back holes and think “oh man, I’m getting it.” Then the last 8 are crap.
Brandon Bass: Who gives a damn who starts if Bass is finishing like this? The thing about this performance is he did some very un-Bass like things… like driving to the basket for clutch shots rather than rely on his jumper… or grab a pair of offensive rebounds to give the C’s 11 points and 7 boards off the bench. You know what that? Mental toughness.
Jason Terry: Every Boston fan’s reaction last night: http://youtu.be/xos2MnVxe-c … JET’S ALIVE!! HE’S ALIVE!!!
Chris Wilcox: Four minutes that saved the game. And that’s not hyperbole, either. 6 points, 2 rebounds and a block in the virtual blink of an eye. It just goes to show that so many of the C’s problems can be fixed by someone just playing hard.
Doc Rivers: He’s like a waiter trying to carry too many plates back to the kitchen. This is a delicate balancing act. We can focus all we want on whether the Celtics should or shouldn’t be struggling, but the fact is they are. And during a game, Doc can only react to what’s actually happening, not what should be happening.
So while Courtney Lee should be making shots, he’s not. So Doc went elsewhere. While Jared Sullinger will probably become a much better defender, he’s not yet. So Doc went elsewhere. It’s almost like there are two “Doc Rivers” coaching this Celtics team: one of them is the guy who’s trying to teach them where to be and how to play in practice, and the other that’s trying to win games with an entirely new team. He made moves that won an NBA game last night, and that’s pretty important right now.
It’s time to be real about this team. These struggles are real and they’re significant. So instead of bemoaning the fact that they’re not living up to OUR expectations, it’s time for us to put those expectations aside and accept the reality before us: This is a team that is in transition and there are guys who are struggling with their new roles. This isn’t 2008, when we were spoiled by instant success. This is 2012-13, and these are different players.
So as frustrating as last night’s struggles were, I’m choosing to accentuate the positive developments: Rajon Rondo’s clutch jumpers and free throws are infinitely important to this team’s future success. Kevin Garnett’s ability to carry this team defies logic. Brandon Bass stepping up the way that he did is quite impressive. And Chris Wilcox’s contribution in limited minutes was inspiring.
All those things make this ugly, frustrating win a positive one.