Get ready to read this a lot: Rajon Rondo is back.
Rondo hit 9 of the 11 shots he took today for 19 points, and he dished out 10 assists for his first double-digit dime game of the year. He was backed up by Jared Sullinger, who put up a monster 21 point, 12 rebound double-double. Brandon Bass and Avery Bradley would have had the headline if these two weren’t so dominant all game long. Both guys had damn fine games as well.
It was clear Rondo felt comfortable early in this game. He was confidently stepping into his jumpers while also attacking the basket. He was finding guys and putting passes where they needed to be. And he got into the middle of scrums for rebounds.
The Celtics looked pretty good for most of the first half, but the pace of the game was noticeably different when Rondo went to the bench. Phil Pressey continues to be the only other guard who can match Rondo’s pace out there, but he can’t do it for very long.
The second half was mostly difficult to watch. There were a lot of whistles, there were a lot of misses, and there were a lot of turnovers. But the last few minutes showed us what the Celtics were missing without Rondo: someone who was in control of the game in the clutch. After the Celtics lead was cut to 2, Rondo responded by calmly draining a jumper and finding Brandon Bass on the elbow twice. He capped the night off with a long outlet to a leaking Bradley for his 10th assist, three of which came in the final 1:22.
Jared Sullinger, as usual, continues to use his body very effectively to get himself just enough space to get difficult shots off. He’s just always in the middle of the action. Even if he’s not getting the tip in or rebound, he’s making the opponent work for the ball out there. He also drilled a clutch 3 at the 4:00 mark which helped the C’s maintain their tenuous lead.
Brandon Bass’ performance today is at risk of getting lost, but he had a fantastic first quarter, and he hit some clutch jumpers down the stretch. 19 points, 9 rebounds (3 offensive), and a blocked shot. That’s a big time game.
Avery Bradley stepped right back into the rotation like he didn’t miss any time at all. He hit half his 12 shots, went to the line 6 times (made 5), and gave the Celtics offense a spark it had been missing recently. Yes, Avery Bradley’s return was good for the C’s offense. Just another day in this weird season.
Jeff Green hit the shot that mattered, but he hit little else. He was 2-13 from the floor and he only went to the line 3 times to finish with 8 points. He was terrible offensively today. But, to his credit, he did other things and didn’t sulk about his poor shooting, so it wasn’t THAT gross… he did have 5 assists, 2 steals, and a block (it was a monster, too).
Kris Humphries had a pretty good month in January, but he’s off to a pretty bad start in February. 2 points on 1-4 shooting and 3 rebounds is bad. Tough one for him today.
Kelly Olynyk didn’t play much (7:45), and he didn’t deserve to. He’s looking a little lost out there right now. I fully expect him to come out of it, because he’s a smart player and smart players don’t slump for too long, but he’s just not right right now.
Rondo with the gorgeous bounce pass to Bass
Phil Pressey beautiful no-look to Jared Sullinger
Rondo does THE MOVE!
Jeff Green’s monster block
Nikola Vucevic accidentally tips one back in for the Celtics
- Bass & Sullinger: 3 offensive rebounds each
- Rondo: 19 points (9-11 fg, 1-3 3pt), 10 ast, 6 reb, 3 steal, 4 TO
- Sullinger: 21 points (10-15 fg, 1-3 3pt), 12 reb, 1 ast, 1 block
- Rebounds: Boston 44 – Orlando 39
It wasn’t a perfect game for Rondo, but it was a wonderful glimpse into the future for the much-maligned Rondo. I wonder how Gary Tanguay’s going to spin this into something negative.