Life without Rondo: Sacramento Kings @ Boston Celtics preview

Sacramento Kings logo

Sacramento Kings logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our first official game without Rondo, how will it play out? (The last game didn’t count because the guys did not know he was out until post-game.)

Fact: The Sacramento Kings (possibly Seattle Supersonics next season) are 4 of 10 in the last games, coming off a scrappy win over the Wizards 96-94.


Game time: 30 Jan 2013, 1130hrs AEDT

Watch on: NBA League Pass

Roster changes:

1. Fab Melo has rejoined the team from D-League.

2. John Salmons is day-to-day due to an illness. He played 12 minutes in their last game (v Wizards) and exited the game early.

Defense

Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee will be the new starting backcourt. Lockdown defense? You got it. We will be needing plenty of that against the likes of Tyreke Evans and Isiah Thomas, both of whom drive and finish very well. Let us not forget perimeter guys like Jimmer Fredette and Francisco Garcia, there is plenty to handle and all four of our guards need to keep up their share of the D.

Second chance points. As always, a potential killer for the team. The Kings rank 9th in the league on offensive rebounding, and a middling offense (ranked 15th) that should not be getting any bonuses on scoring. Don’t make life easier for the Kings, clean up the defensive glass. Look for Bass, Green and Wilcox to contribute on this. Sully and KG of course, should not even be questioned on the effort. Winning this is half the battle.

Offense

This is where we will see the new-look Celtics. Without Rondo, look for Pierce and KG to run pick and roll sets as the first option. Pierce will definitely be handling the ball and performing PG duties a lot more, the same way he did whenever Rondo was out. Without Rondo pounding the ball, expect the guards to move the ball around a lot more in search of the open shot.

Will it work? No question about that. The question is, will they focus on driving in search of points in the paint? We cannot afford to keep relying on the mid-range jumper. Drive and dish, keep the offense flowing and the opportunity for the 3 or layup open. There’s plenty to look forward to tomorrow on offensive execution.


We have to move past the cloud of despondency Rondo’s absence has caused, and continue to work for the wins. Keep believing, just keep looking forward to the next game, one step at a time. The season is only at the midway, and the team has no reason to give up. We have the guys necessary to make things work, all that’s left is to unite. Time to Ubuntu, gents.

Trade Paul Pierce?

The Captain.

For those of us who’ve been following the Celtics since at least the 1980’s, and endured the gut-wrenching agony of watching our beloved team continuously suffer from bad draft picks, lack of potential, poor coaching, lazy & uninspired players, the shocking and sudden deaths of would-be superstars, we understand how painstaking loyalty to a single club can be, when the easy option would be to turn one’s back on the club.

The one and only shining light in the last 20 years has been Celtic captain Paul Pierce. He endured more than emotional scars whilst playing for his, and our, beloved Boston Celtics. He often felt like giving up, taking the easy option, but never ever did.

His loyalty was rewarded in 2008, with the supporting cast he deserved to finally capture the flag, and his loyalty should be, not only rewarded right now, during a trying and tumultuous time, but rewarded forever in the annals of Celtics history, by affording Paul Pierce the respect, honor and dignity of retiring as one of the greatest ever Boston Celtics to ever pull on the Green and White.

Anything less is a betrayal. A betrayal to Paul, a betrayal to KG. A betrayal to Rondo. A betrayal to Doc. A betrayal to the rich history of Boston sports. A betrayal to the memory of Red Auerbach who truly believed in Paul Pierce’s heart, loyalty and determination. Last but not least, a betrayal to us, the fans.

A multitude of ‘fans’ seem only to care about the hope of success in 2013, and seem focused on cutting off our nose to spite our face.

I for one am not willing to throw Paul Pierce under the bus, in the hope of chasing the ghost of Banner 18.

Legends deserve much, much better.

-Justin.

Follow Justin on Twitter: @AusCelticsFan

What does Rondo’s loss mean?

Rajon Rondo | Boston Celtics

Rajon Rondo | Boston Celtics (Photo credit: Basketball Schedule)

What a momentuous day it has been. Losing our starting point guard to a torn ACL certainly wasn’t in the books, and when do players put a torn ACL off as a “hamstring injury” and play on anyway? Remember the Wade elbow last time?

Rondo is a tough guy, period.

Without Rondo, what does the team do now? It all comes down to Danny at this point, and he has stated that it all boils down to the deals on the table.

“In our situation, you can’t just philosophically say, ‘We’re going to do this,’ ” Ainge told Yahoo! Sports. “You have to tell me what it is. You have to tell me what opportunities we have.”

“Here’s the thing: If I wanted to say, ‘Hey, let’s play for the future,’ that’s hard to do. And if I play only for the ‘here and now,’ that’s hard to do.”
Those kinds of trades are hard to do, Ainge meant.

“I’m going to look and see what opportunities are there, like any other year,” Ainge said. “Last year, I was close to making a change that I felt would give us a better chance in the here and now, and in the future. And those are hard to do.”

– Adrian Woj, Celtics face harsh new reality after Rajon Rondo’s season-ending knee injury at Y! Sports

If another team is offering to trade a top-notch player at a bargain, there is no reason to refuse. On the other hand, I do not see why vultures offering twenty-five cents to the dollar will make the Celtics any better than they are now. 

Tank and go for the draft

If you were going to say blow it up, think carefully. Tanking the season to a lottery pick is a long and painful process when there is only that one first round pick to look forward to. Do you honestly prefer to watch your team lose repeatedly and scream in frustration, night after night? I was not a fan through the pre-KG era, but if a six game losing streak is enough to get us down, think of how much worse it will feel.

Believe me, it will absolutely kill us if we miss the top picks after so much tanking. In the 2007 NBA draft, the Celtics had a 19.9% chance to get either Kevin Durant or Greg Oden with the first selection, but failed to nab either after being allotted the 5th selection.

Granted situations are different, the point is you can never predict how the draft will turn out, praying for the draft to nab a game changer is never a sure thing, and lottery picks do not live up to their potential at times. Look at the 2001 NBA draft number one pick Kwame Brown, how did that work out for the Wizards?

Blow it up and try for a contender

You never know how things work out in trade deals. Assuming the Celtics blow it up and trade all their players for scrap. The season ends, cap space is cleared and they fail to make a run at an All-Star player, what next?

Rebuilding takes time, and a championship team requires multiple pieces, not a superstar that scores 80 points by himself every night. Cue season of .500 and possibly less, as Danny once again seeks to work his magic in the days ahead.

The question

The question: why not ride the season out and see what it brings? Take the season to completion, finish it out and see what happens with KG and Pierce. Get a rebounding/shotblocking guy at the mid-season and shore the interior up, play a traditional big center at the 5 spot. Hell, try for a wing player as insurance in case Green and Pierce aren’t enough. In case anyone has forgotten, we still have four guys on the guard lineup: Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee, Jason Terry and Leandro Barbosa. Granted none of them are passing point guards the way Rondo is, but give them extended minutes (especially Barbosa), let us see what they can do.

Rondo’s absence deprives us of a creative playmaker and postseason game changer, but what bigger motivation could there be for the team to rally and unite now? Play slower, grind the defense out. Share the ball, get it to the open guy the way it did today. The season is not done, so let us move on and see the story to completion. The chips are still in the air, and for all we know, something surprising might still be out there waiting for us.

Keep believing guys.

And to our favourite Mr Triple Double, get well soon. I for one, look forward to your sooner-than-expected return to the court, simply because I know that’s how Rajon Rondo operates – he’s a competitive winner.

The Ray Return: Miami Heat @ Boston Celtics preview

Miami Heat logo

Miami Heat logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A six-game win streak, followed by a six-game losing streak. According to the pattern so far, we should be getting a win tomorrow. Right? RIGHT? Not making a strong case here.

Fact: The 2011/12 NBA champions have won 4 of their last 5 games. Their losses this year have come at the hands of dominant rebounding teams like Utah, Indiana, Chicago and Detroit.


Game time: 28 Jan 2013, 0500hrs AEDT (Zombie time for Aussies, I’m skipping this one.)

Watch on: NBA League Pass

Roster changes:

1. Wilcox is cleared to play, but there is no confirmation on whether he will actually see court time.

2. Fab Melo is still not cleared for full contact practice after his recent concussion (walked into a doorway).

Defense

Where to begin? The Heat lose to rebounding teams because of their lineup size and coach Spoelstra’s focus on small ball. The Celtics unfortunately, are one of the worse teams in that category – even after adding our favourite rookie Sully into the equation. Beating the Heat on rebounds becomes once more a team effort thing more than having a double-digit rebounding monster like Larry Sanders.

The next focus: shutting down the three. The Indiana Pacers (Zach Lowe has an illuminating piece on Indy’s defense by the way) have been very good at killing the corner three, which is a staple item on the Heat’s offensive menu. Unsurprising, considering the plethora of shooters they have.

Quoted:

There’s a deeper braininess going on, too. Indiana has allowed only 4.1 corner 3 attempts per game, the second-lowest number in the league, and their opponents have hit a pathetic 27.7 percent on those enticing shorter 3s — the stingiest mark in the league by a mile. That number will regress to the mean a bit, but it’s also the product of Indy’s collective length and grasp of NBA math. Vogel and his staff work hard to make sure Indiana understands which shooters can be left with a bit of space, and which require close attention, help instincts be damned; the team calls the latter type “laser shooters.” And Vogel has another rule: “We never rotate to a 2-point jump-shooter off of a 3-point jump-shooter,” he says.

English: Wizards v/s Heat 03/30/11

English: Wizards v/s Heat 03/30/11 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chances of the C’s pulling off something similar tomorrow is unlikely, seeing as we are already thin on interior defense to limit dribble penetration. Without solid big men as shot blockers, help defense is going to happen, like it or not. I’m not saying Wilcox is the second Hakeem, but now would really be a good time for Wilcox to make his return – having an extra big on the roster would be a welcome sight.

Stopping LeBron would be something of a near-impossible feat unless Pierce manages a fantastic resurgence in form to 2007/08. I could be wrong, but after seeing Melo pretty much getting whatever he wanted on offense, I’m leaning towards the conclusion on Jeff Green not being a top notch wing defender.

While we are on defense, how about stopping transition offense and them easy buckets? Get back on defense, no Flying Death Machine highlight reels, how does that sound?

Notice I haven’t mentioned Ray at all until now. Honestly, while I wouldn’t be surprised if he drops a few threes for us, he’s not going to outdo Kyle Korver’s tsunami of three-destruction from the last game. So there you go, just one more deadly shooter in the corner. Move on folks, nothing to see here.

Offense

This is a tough pill to chew on. We all thought offense would be easier with the roster reloaded, and Rondo’s hitting his elbow jumpers with such confidence these days, surely it must have made things better? Sadly, the unfortunate (and hopefully temporary) demise of the Captain’s offense has made things really difficult. Combine this with good old Bass turning invisible, our starter scoring has taken a definite turn for the worse.

Rajon Rondo | Boston Celtics

Rajon Rondo | Boston Celtics (Photo credit: Basketball Schedule)

I’m laying my bets on Rondo, who is at the moment our most reliable offensive cog. He will have to have a big night for us to have a fighting chance. Big means something in the range of 25 to 30 points along with his usual 10 assists, we need scoring, heaps of it. Drives to the basket, Heat defenders daring him to shoot while he nails that jumper relentlessly? I’m all for it.

The bench needs to be shaken loose as well. Cut Barbosa loose, unleash him and let him get to work on the Heat guards. Let Lee continue his excellent form, and let us hope for Jeff Green to have a dunktastic game as well. I’m not picky, give me a poster of any Heat player and I’m a happy man.

But honestly? No lousy turnovers please, we cannot afford sloppy mistakes against the Heat. Get an open shot. Or better yet, get an open driving lane. GET. INSIDE.


I am definitely not an optimistic fan at this point. That being said, we still have to fight and try our darndest to get the win. Please,  no more embarrassing losses. Show the world what the Celtics are capable of, and get some good old defense rocking once more.

Green Kick Of The Week feat Rajon Rondo’s Nike Hyperposite PE

Let’s focus on the positives! With a week full of negatives and a losing streak to boot, it’s time to take a look at one of the very few bright spots.

This week’s KOTW winner is Rajon Rondo, who bought out an awesome pair of Nike Air Max Hyperposite PE’s against the New York Knicks. Attention-grabbing, metallic, shiny, flashy, even gaudy – you name it, the shoe’s got it.

Rondo HP PE 900

Rondo is quickly becoming one of, if not THE player to watch for the latest and best sneakers. If Nike wants a shoe to get attention, they know who they should be handing it to – Mr Triple Double, Rajon Rondo. He has worn Hyperposites for a long time now, but these take the cake as being the most flashy.

Rondo Game HP 900 1

The colour is a strange one, sort of a mix between gold and lime. The shoe features Rondo’s logo on the tongue, black accents and an icy sole. I can only imagine Rondo’s reaction when he saw this game on the schedule, and found out it was going to be nationally televised; he knew he had to bring out his best kicks yet.

Among the pairs I’ve seen Rondo rock, these Hyperposites are by far my favourite colourway so far and I can only hope he brings them out again. After all, he did get a triple double in them.

Rondo HP PE 938

What does everyone think about these kicks? Do you think Rajon Rondo is leading the league in the shoe game, or do you have another brilliant candidate in mind? Let us know what you think.

Are we ready to win now? Boston Celtics @ Atlanta Hawks preview

Atlanta Hawks logo

Atlanta Hawks logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Coming off a frustrating loss to the New York Knicks, the Celtics will try to get their win against the Atlanta Hawks on the road – on a back-to-back no less.

Fact: The Hawks are 24-18 this season, and have won only 4 of their last 10 games, 3 of the wins coming from home.


Game time: 26 Jan 2013, 1130hrs AEDT

Watch on: NBA League Pass

Roster changes:

1. Wilcox is cleared to play, but there is no confirmation on whether he will actually see court time.

2. Fab Melo is still not cleared for full contact practice after his recent concussion (walked into a doorway).

3. Lou Williams is out for the season with an ACL injury.

4. Devin Harris (ankle) is day to day.

5. Al Horford (calf) is day to day.

6. Zaza Pachulia (tendinitis right Achilles) is unavailable, likely day to day.

Defense

Remember Lou Williams? He basically tore us apart in the first quarter in that last meetup, scoring 16 points to give the Hawks a huge lead back then. Williams is unfortunately out for the season with an ACL injury, so that gives us a bit of breathing space. If centers Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia are out as well, the Hawks look to be quite shorthanded on the big men department. I’m not sure how much more handicapped this game can get to be honest. If we are to win, this is a very good shot.

The offense will likely look to be running through Jeff Teague to either Josh Smith or Kyle Korver, with Ivan Johnson on the inside muscling for scrap points.  Fight the rebounds, look for Bradley to contain the dribble penetration from Teague, and the perimeter shooters (read: Korver the marksman) will not be hitting them open ones. Get the good old stops, and then think about how the ball is supposed to go through the damn hoop.

Offense

The starters will be tired, do not doubt that for a second. Rondo and The Truth played heavy minutes in the Knicks game, and KG is not scoring his usual load of late, despite playing rationed minutes. Add in the travel from Boston to Atlanta, the usual rigours of a road game and the older guys will be fatigued. Pierce will be looking to score his usual load, but don’t be surprised if he comes up short.

We need big scoring from the bench guys, and I’m looking for Green to be more aggressive and take his points. Lee is looking more and more comfortable with every passing game, but I’m not expecting a 20 point game anytime soon. Green on the other hand, has shown himself capable of scoring at will – when he’s in the mood. Those points are crucial right now.


We nearly had that win in the Knicks game, but it was a matter of late game execution fouling up badly. Against a shorthanded Hawks team, we need to capitalise on the opportunity and grasp the win. Let’s go guys and GRAB THAT WIN!

Will the win happen? Knicks @ Celtics preview

New York Knicks logo

New York Knicks logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Celtics are now on a 4 game losing streak, with no obvious quick fix in sight. The last time we met the Knicks in Madison Square Garden, it was a 102-96 victory with the Captain in full form. Morale right now is low, frustration is deep; can the team put it together at home in the Garden and pull out a win?

Fact: The New York Knickerbockers are at 25-14 this season, top in the Atlantic division.


Game time: 25 Jan 2013, 1200hrs AEDT

Watch on: NBA League Pass

Roster changes:

1. Wilcox is cleared to play, but there is no confirmation on whether he will actually see court time.

2. Fab Melo is still not cleared for full contact practice after his recent concussion (walked into a doorway).

3. Raymond Felton (broken pinkie) is still out for this game, likely to return in their next game.

4. Defensive stalwart Iman Shumpert has returned from his rehab and will be playing.

Defense

What else would be key? The Knicks are 8th in the league on scoring, and more often than not rely on a few offensive options (largely simplified descriptions):

  1. Getting the open three ball to their shooters (Kidd, Novak, Melo, Smith, Brewer) through quick perimeter passing.
  2. Pick and roll plays off Chandler, Stoudamire and Copeland, reduced impact thanks to Felton’s absence – Prigioni is decent, but not explosive the way Felton is.
  3. One-on-one plays from Smith and Melo.

Playing zone defense (a la the last game matchup) would likely be the safest option on covering the perimeter shooters while minimising mistakes on defensive rotations. The question here is, are the Knicks ready for the Celtics zone defense this time? Expect the Knicks to have a game plan on hand.

The keyword here is energy. Will the Celtics bring their defensive energy throughout four quarters of the game to stifle the Knicks’ offense? A win is sorely needed

Offense

Bench. Scoring. Enough said. We need scoring, and I’m looking at the trio of Lee, Green and JET. Lee’s been on the upward trend, but Green and Terry and unfortunately still struggling to find some form of rhythm right now. Nothing is fixed in one game, but I’m hoping they show some positive signs in the game today.

Also, a big question to the Captain and KG: will they be finding their offensive mojo after the recent shooting slump? Pierce seems to have lost the lift in his legs, KG is shooting an unusually poor percentage on his bread and butter mid-range shot. Rondo can and will score, but as we have seen, a 30 point Rondo is not enough to bring us to a win. Everyone needs to chip in, and our star players more so. Rondo is back now, but I’m hoping to see more of the two-man game KG and PP played in the last Knicks showing; forcing the switch on Pierce and allowing KG to post a smaller player could work magic.


A win is sorely needed to bring a change of pace and heart; to show everyone that the Celtics are not totally gone to seed the Lakers are, and that we are still capable of pulling the defensive stops to get a win in good old Celtics fashion, through hardnosed defensive and gritty play.

Will it happen tomorrow though? I’m resigned, but still looking for the silver lining that could shine through anytime. Chin up, and let’s GO CELTICS!

Time to work: Celtics @ Cavaliers preview

Cleveland Cavaliers logo

Cleveland Cavaliers logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So. 6 game win streak, then a 3 game losing streak. Are the C’s planning to lose another three more before they flip the switch again? I sure as hell hope not.

Fact: Anderson Varejao is ruled out for the rest of the season due to a blood clot in his lung. There goes the guy who averaged 14.4 rebounds this season.

Fact #2: The Cavaliers are at 10-32 this season, the last matchup being a road loss to the C’s in December 103-91.


Game time: 23 Jan 2013, 1100hrs AEDT

Watch on: NBA League Pass

Roster changes:

1. Wilcox is cleared to play, but there is no confirmation on whether he will actually see court time.

2. Fab Melo is still not cleared for full contact practice after his recent concussion (walked into a doorway).

Defense

The Cavaliers at this point are still a fairly raw team. The one thing they have got going for them is energy and hustle. Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller fight hard to fill the gap left by Varejao on rebounding and second chance points (team 29.6 ORB%), and it’s one of the reasons why the Cavaliers still manage to get games. Our big guys will have to be in position to get defensive rebounds and not give them a shot at getting the easy free throws or putbacks.

Kyrie Irving Layup

Kyrie Irving Layup (Photo credit: Erik Daniel Drost)

Another key would be the scoring trio of Irving, Gee and Waiters, who combine for 49 PPG. Of special note is Dion Waiters, the rookie who has done so well this season filling the team on scoring. He’s averaging 14.8 PPG, second on the team right now. With Waiters and Irving on the floor at the same time, Rondo will have to defend his share of the game and not ease off.

The Cavs do not have a post presence the way the Grizzlies or Jazz do. Their offense is always initiated from Irving, who is also at the same time the first offensive option. Take away the dribble penetration, have Bradley and Lee hound him hard and their passes will be shaken up, giving us a shot at disrupting the passing lanes for TOs and fast break points.

Will the defense be up to it tomorrow?


This is a game that can be won, no doubts about it. The real question though, is which team we are going to see tomorrow. Is it going to be the 6 win Celtics, or are we just going to continue with the ones that have been showing up recently?

At the Half: A-very Bradley Barometer

Image

At your service….Avery Bradley has been Boston’s captain in defense.

THE Celtics reach the mid-way point of the season virtually as it began, back under a cloud and raising questions about whether it can make the post-season this year, let alone do some damage there.

The highlight reel in this first half is without doubt, in my opinion, dominated by Avery Bradley. Putting stats of his own aside, he was an instant spark to this C’s roster upon returning from his shoulder injury at the turn of the year.  He is foremost an excellent hustling defender so far in his short NBA career; a fact evident by the many clips of his in-your-face ‘D’ on YouTube.  When you also hear unkind jokes about Bradley’s face looking as if it’s gone some rounds in the ring, it only rams home this invaluable trait.  He is fearless among flailing arms.

The Streak

It’s no coincidence that Bradley’s return sent their up and down form on a 6-win streak.  Again, it wasn’t about stats.  Simply, the excitability of youth and some diversion of Rondo-obsessed opponents brought guys like KG, Lee and Jeff Green into their own.  The latter especially brought the entertainment, with some massive dunks on and after his heart-surgery anniversary.  Boston was up and about.

This inspired form gave them probably their best and grittiest win of the season so far – against the Knicks in their own Garden.  Garnett, who had the quotes on tap for journalists throughout the streak, was at his wily best getting under the skin of Carmelo Anthony and adding anything but ‘Honey-Nut Cheerios’ sweetness to their next meeting (an alleged comment Garnett made about Anthony’s wife).  Not to mention the All-Star game, when they’re expected to be team-mates in the East’s starting line-up.  If nothing else for the C’s this season, form will count for nothing when they next meet NY again in just a few days, as well as Miami!  (Remember them?)

The Slump

But that’s where the bubble burst.  A blow to the ribs against the Hornets forced him to the bench and then onto the casualty list.  The suspect defense returned.  In all 8 games he played, the opponents never reached a triple figure score.  Chicago came to town and duly eclipsed the Bradley-less Celtics with one; 100-99.  He will return very soon, but it is concerning how reliant they are on this mere rookie.

English: Display of Kendrick Perkins of the Bo...

English: Display of Kendrick Perkins of the Boston Celtics at NBA Media Day on September 28, 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of course, this barometer of performance would be a non-issue if not for the fluid back-up guard and center positions.  In Jason Terry (JET), they should have a solid, experienced campaigner but too many a headline this season has been about the JET not leaving the run-way. Their starting center of late is a man called Jason Collins.  Who?  Precisely.  Sadly the only mentions he is getting are because he’s a registered player, thus in the NBA stats database.  The only thing sadder is that the guy who was moved on despite being apt in this role, Kendrick Perkins, is having a pretty miserable time of it at his new club.

In early January though, the Celtics cut two promising forwards Kris Joseph and Jarvis Varnado in a move that many deem a precursor to another super-deal from GM Danny Ainge.  That is yet to happen to this day.  But while many are hoping such a deal lands a big fish of the say, Josh Smith variety, this author worries about the cost.  Sure, you love being the envy of the NBA when you can add another superstar and gloat that another Banner is nigh.  However, when names like Bradley and Lee get thrown up as possible exchanges, the prospect leaves a sour taste.  A healthy Bradley needs to join Rondo as the face of the franchise over the next decade.  The roster must be built around them.  Instead, General Manager, Danny Ainge should be looking to recruit a simple, dependable Center (just like Perkins).  The cost is minimal and you’re more likely to have someone who will enjoy the Boston way of life.  JET (despite his form) and Green are good examples of guys who seem to be lapping up the camaraderie inside the Club.

Where to next?

So, 40 down, 42 to go.  The Celtics are starting over.  But it would take a brave pundit to predict where they finish with a healthy-again Bradley and the vacancy sign shining bright green over the roster. What do you see for the team?

When Will The JET Soar Once More?

Avery Bradley and Jordan Crawford

Avery Bradley and Jordan Crawford (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

With the return of Avery Bradley –The Gamechanger, The Saviour and all of a billion other divine titles– there has been a shuffle in the playing rotations. When Danny Ainge put this team together in the off-season, the idea was to have the tenacious backcourt of Rondo and Bradley start. A bench featuring Jason Terry and Courtney Lee would then cover the starters, with the Brazillian Blur, Leandro Barbosa thrown in for good measure.

This has since created a logjam amongst the guards, with a huge chunk of minutes going to Rondo (35.8), Bradley (24.3) and Lee (17.6) over the past fortnight, leaving a potentially scarce 18 minutes for Barbosa and Terry.

The question remains: with very limited action, what will become of Jason Terry’s role on this team?

Lee’s return to form

The early season struggles of Courtney Lee were well-documented as he bounced around from starter to bench player and back, but he has found a definitive role in the rotation since Bradley’s return. When Avery heads for the bench, Lee enters the game to sustain the same ball pressure.

As Bradley told ESPN in a recent intervew:

“We definitely frustrate our opponent, and that’s what we try to do. I start the game off trying to frustrate whoever I’m going up against and Courtney comes in the game and he does the same thing.”

Now that Lee has settled into a role that he can thrive in, he has proven over the last fortnight exactly how valuable he is to the team. His confidence on D has found its way into his shooting, resulting in a much higher shooting percentage. Over the month of January, Lee has shot 54% from the field in 17 minutes of action, averaging 7.6 points a contest.

The Blur, ready to go

Due to the quality of guards in Boston’s squad, Leandro Barbosa has found himself on extremely limited minutes this season through no fault of his own. Since early season, Barbosa has proven his ability to handle the ball, get to the basket in a flash, and finish well on the fast break. He has also surprised Doc Rivers with his ability to defend other guards.

After the win over Oklahoma City in November, Doc praised Barbosa’s defensive gears to ESPN:

“He has that reputation of being an offensive player. What we have found since getting him, he’s a heck of a defensive player. He has the ability to put pressure on the ball. That’s something we didn’t know.”

To have a guard of this quality sitting at the end of the bench adds pressure to Terry, especially with Doc looking to Barbosa down the stretch in the team’s win over the Bobcats last week. The interesting decision to start the Brazilian Blur against the Bulls in Bradley’s absence is also something that should be taken note of.

What is left for JET?

So where does this leave 35 year-old Jason Eugene Terry, who is renowned for knocking down big shots off the bench? The former Sixth Man of the Year seems like a perfect fit for Boston to provide an offensive boost when he enters the game, but his defense leaves a lot to be desired. It is a glaring weakness, and could well be a reason for the drop in recent minutes – Terry logged a combined 31 minutes in the wins against Charlotte and Houston.

#4 Jason Terry

#4 Jason Terry (Photo credit: Girovagando)

Terry returned to his preferred role of coming off the bench since Bradley’s return, but has been in a shooting slump in January. He shot just 37% from the field while averaging just 6 points per game, down from an average of 11.5 for the rest of the season. If he is not scoring, Terry must find other avenues to get involved in the Celtics offense.

When Rondo was out with a two-game suspension, the JET entered the starting line-up as the point guard and proved himself  as an underrated passer. Terry posted 11 assists against the Bucks in December, showing his worth as a distributor of the ball. Terry is especially proficient at drawing the defense in with dribble penetration, which allows him to set his teammates up for open shots on the drive and kick – this was something he did very often during his tenure with Dallas. The Celtics as we all know live and die by the jumpshot, and Terry’s ability to facilitate the shot could very well be a factor on offense.

With the improvement in production from Jeff Green and Courtney Lee, Terry should feel less pressure to carry the bench’s scoring load.This (theoretically, from a fan’s point of view) should enable him to relax and shoot the ball with confidence. We might have caught a glimpse of Terry emerging from his shooting slump against Chicago, hitting some big shots in overtime to almost snatch the win for the C’s. Things are yet uncertain, but it should only be a matter of time until we see the JET taking full flight once again.

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