The Boston Celtics have been hampered by injuries all season long. Their injury woes continued on Monday against the Washington Wizards when their Captain Paul Pierce went down with a strained left mid-foot in the first quarter.
Despite the most recent injury to Pierce though, the Celtics managed to pull out a win over the Miami Heat at the TD Bank Garden last night, 107-102. Rajon Rondo was the spark the Celtics needed to win the game and his logged minutes (44:11) show it. He filled the offensive void left by Pierce, connecting for two 3-pointers and scoring 22 points on the night. Ray Allen dropped 23 points on 7 for 15 shooting and Eddie House chipped in with 16 off the bench.
The Celtics did miss Pierce on the defensive end. In fact, they really did not play defense for most of the game, letting the Heat shoot close to sixty percent from the field for the first three quarters. Yes, the defense did win the game. Tony Allen’s big steal on Dwayne Wade in the final seconds sealed the game, but that wasn’t the whole story.
There were three reasons why the Celtics won last night: they out-rebounded the Heat (41-31), they moved the ball around on offense (29 assists), and they have a great point guard in Rajon Rondo. The Celtics had 15 offensive boards as a team; Rajon Rondo collected four of them. He was also instrumental in the distribution of the basketball, dishing out 16 of the Celtics’ 29 assists. To say Rondo led the Celtics’ offensive is an understatement. He controlled the tempo and put the Celtics in position to win the game even without one of the Big Three in the lineup.
The Celtics play again tomorrow night at the Garden against the lowly New Jersey Nets. Paul Pierce is listed as day-to-day. If Pierce is scratched from the starting five, whose turn is it to fill the gap? Is it Rondo’s time again?