ESPN’s Marc Stein spoke with some NBA scouts about the upcoming playoffs. Here’s what one Eastern Conference scout had to say about the Celtics chances:
I’ll buy your [contention] that they’re playing happier without him, but when it comes down to the big games, you need a couple a-holes. And Rondo is the leading a-hole Boston has. He affects the game like nobody else.
“During the regular season, I agree, he plays for stats too much, but when it comes to the playoffs, he’s playing to win the game. He’s definitely a diva and he definitely has his issues, but who does Miami have to game-plan for if Rondo isn’t there? Paul Pierce is a warrior, but he’s only going to be able to play 15 top-level minutes out of 30. [Kevin Garnett] is a defensive specialist at this point in time. The totality of the Heat overtakes the totality of the Celtics when Rondo’s not there, but I still think he’s in Miami’s heads and the Celtics are in the Heat’s heads when the teams are at full strength.
“Without Rondo, Miami wins that series in five.”
This is one man’s opinion so I’ll take it with a grain of salt. But I highly doubt this scout would have predicted a 14-4 record for the Celtics after the Rondo injury. He also probably predicted the Lakers to win in 2008, the Celtics to fall in the 1st round in 2010, and a Miami sweep in the Eastern Conference Finals last season.
I’m not delirious. I realize it will take a perfect series from the Celtics or a significant injury to LeBron James or Dwyane Wade for the Celtics to beat Miami. But the Celtics won’t fold in five. No way.