We often wonder what opposing teams, their beat reporters and bloggers are saying about the Celtics. Here’s a look at some enemy chatter from New York.
If you had told me in November that the Knicks would play the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs and that the deciding factor of the series would be one team’s utter domination of the other at the point guard position, I’ve gotta be honest with you, I might’ve stopped watching right there and taken up knitting or basket-weaving or origami or…ugh…maybe even hockey. And, yet, as the desperately Rondoless Celtics try a succession of underwhelming unpoints at the helm of a heretofore listless offense, Raymond Felton has flourished. His assist total (2) was a bit misleading this evening, collateral damage to Chandler’s physical limitations and the resultingly spare pick-and-roll game. Felton forced the issue in transition and the halfcourt alike, played his part in the Thing 1/Thing 2 offense alongside Prigioni and Kidd alike, and – more than anyone else – controlled the game during the Knicks utterly bonkers third quarter. Defensively, his value is amplified by the Celtics unusual personnel; his typical shortcomings as an on-ball defender against quick point guards are moot, his bulldogging has bothered Celtics from Avery Bradley to Paul Pierce, and his freedom to stray has allowed him to create turnovers and points in transition.
Felton is killing the Celtics. I don’t understand how the C’s defense can allow a portly fellow to penetrate repeatedly. It’s as if the Celtics are underrating his ability.
On defense, Felton is playing extremely physical. In a series that has been officiated tightly, he has been whistled for 5 fouls.
We all know the Celtics offense has been a rudderless ship since Rajon Rondo’s injury. Paul Pierce has filled-in admirably, but the playoffs are a different animal. Even J.R. Smith can figure it out:
Without Rondo, J.R. Smith said, the Celtics are “a little fuzzy up top on who they want to get it to and why.”
“When Rondo is out there, they are in a certain flow,” Smith said. “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.”
Quick question: Where are all the people who boldly and proudly claimed the Celtics were a better team without Rondo? You remember, the folks who thought Rondo’s bullish demeanor was inhibiting the offense.
Stand up (so I can smack you in the back of the head) and be accounted for.
Now head to the chalkboard and write – “The Celtics are not better without Rondo” – 1,000 times.