Friday, November 30, 2012

No Rondo Just Might be What the 'Doc' Has Ordered

It really does not get any worst once your coach calls your team ‘soft’. Not only did Doc say it when talking to the media, he said it in the locker room, right to his team's face. 

So if the message was not clear 48 hours ago, the league has sent down a two-game suspension to your floor leader, and with back to back games on the plate starting tonight, it’s time to wake up and get serious right about now.

If you can take away anything from what happened Wednesday night vs. Brooklyn, it should be these things: these dudes are not the same team from Jersey that Boston has been beating up on the last few years. Two, there should always be a plan B when Rondo is not on the floor, and three, when your general calls you out? You better be ready to respond and respond big if you are wearing Celtic green!

Even though watching Rondo put Mr. Kardashian on his ass was great to watch, I expected a whole different ball game in the second half vs. the Nets. We saw good intensity for about four to five minutes and then…nothing.

I personally didn’t think much of this “fight” that so many thought was so bad. For one, I didn’t see any punches thrown. For my hockey fans, you know this little grab fest doesn't even come close to what should be considered an actual altercation. If anyone thought the streak was a distraction, you can throw that out the window, because Rajon thought about his teammate first instead of himself in that regard. You got to love the fact he could throw down with anyone, if he has to. Obviously if this were March or April, it would be more detrimental to the team, but when you are still searching for your identity this early, its more growing pains than anything else. Danny is not all concerned about his all-star point guard in the least bit.

"I believe Rondo is maturing all the time," said Ainge. "I love Rondo's emotion. He's got to learn, and I think that he is learning and I'm not worried about Rondo as others might be."
As for the suspension of two games handed down by Mr. Stu Jackson, Danny shared his feelings on the decision and if the punishment fit the crime.
"Maybe a little bit excessive in my mind. I think that it escalated into the crowd. I think that's probably part of it, but anyways, it's disappointing. It's frustrating."
For the record there still a lot of games left to start a new assists streak, and the kind of passer Rajon is, I don’t see why this wouldn't be possible, especially if the C’s get on the right rack going forward.

 Doc clearly was as vocal as I have ever heard him in the last few days. From the postgame Wednesday night, to Thursday when he made his weekly appearance on 93.7FM WEEI speaking on the fight, he also discussed his feelings on the Celtics 8-7 start. Rondo went as far as stating his disappointment in Jeff Green’s performance thus far, indicating it’s up to both the team and player to get him back on track. After going 1 of 12 in the last two games, Jeff is averaging only 7.7 points per game.

"I know he's better and I know he can be better," Rivers said Thursday morning. "It's got to be some of what we're doing and then some of what he's doing. I have to figure out whatever we're not doing as a staff and a team right, we got to fix that and then whatever Jeff's not doing he's got to fix that."
Given the Celtics’ uninspired and uneven play to start the season, Rivers labeled his team as “soft.” Despite Rondo’s efforts for sticking up for his teammates, that was not the toughness coach had in mind.
"I don't know if I want to rally around my 6-foot guard being the enforcer. Honestly," said Rivers. "That's nice, but, at the end of the day, if that's the threat you're sending..."
It’s clear that this type of toughness Doc is looking for is beyond pushing and talking, it's the team unity overall that has sorely been lacking all season long and it has their coach frustrated. Who can blame him? Things could be worst, it is only November. Then again tomorrow is December 1st. 

In Heine sight, only a few games come to mind as truly great wins this season. The game vs. the Bulls in Chicago is a great example. The defense was able to contain the Celtic killer Luol Deng when it came to the fourth quarter. We can’t forget a week ago against OKC at home. The C’s showed what kind of team they can be when there is an overall balance on both ends of the court. But realistically, Boston barely beat Washington (1-12) twice and a young Magic team on Sunday and they needed an extra five minutes to finally but them away. We could be looking at a possible 5-10 record if you think about it.

What Rivers does not need is one “enforcer” instead he needs the team to enforce as one. It starts with what has been the staple of the Celtics the last five years…DEFENSE! From rebounding, to committing to team defense and playing gritty, hard nosed basketball. We all assumed the 10 new guys on this squad could score, but we never took into account if they play in Doc’s system when it came to actually buying in and trusting that good things will happen if you play defense the right way. We figured if Doc could get the former shooter known now as # 20 to play some D, then he could get anyone to commit to the system. But so far it is easier said then done.

The Celtics were built to have the sort of overall depth this season to win games even when key guys had reduced workloads. If this team’s “chemistry” is as good as we have been hearing about off the court and in practice, it’s time to come together starting tonight and put together some wins. I would say rest KG and Pierce for the next two games, but who knows what Mr. Stern would have in mind as punishment. February 2014 can’t come soon enough folks.

As for Doc, he knows there is no better time than right now to send his message loud and clear:
"I have to prepare them better. They have to come ready. They have to come with the right intentions, the right focus... but you can't wait for it. You've got to do it now."
Sounds like the perfect doctor's note if you ask me.

Joel Pavón

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