|Posted by paul on January 27, 2013 at 3:35 PM|
When I tuned into NBA Gamechannel to 'watch' today's game, and pulled up twitter, I immediately knew something was very, very wrong. The news was that Rondo was a last minute scratch. Something to do with the knee. MRI. Pretty soon twitter was alight with rumors, and they were bad. Torn ACL. These were followed, as always, by cautions from the 'adults in the room' not to believe the rumors. Then came the confirmations. Torn ACL. Surgery. Season over. Apparently.
So the debate between Rondo fans and Rondo haters is over, I guess, and I guess you could say the haters won. I won't hold back from saying what I think we all know to be the truth: many or most haters are glad. Most won't say it. Some may even say it. And for what it is worth, the Celtics do seem to play better in some ways when Rondo is out. Sometimes, at least, they seem to play together as a team better, and they seem to play tougher defense, and they seem to move the ball around more. Today they played an amazing game against the Heat. Pierce had a brilliant triple double, lifting his all-around game as scoring becomes tougher for him. KG dominated inside the way he did in the ECF last year at times. The Celtics hung in there all game long, and used their bench strength to wear Miami down, just as we've been hoping they would do to other teams all season. Allen was huge off Miami's bench, but no one else came through for Miami.
Some folks seem to be assuming that the Cs are finished now that Rondo is gone for the year. I think that's far from true. This team is deep and talented. They can still be a winning team without Rondo. I doubt they win a championship without Rondo, but they can win games. The Haters have been right about one thing. The Celtics do seem to play better as a team without Rondo, at least at times. They play like they've been let out of prison, almost, and they play better defense. Even a Rondo fan has to admit, I think, some sense of relief that the tension is over. We can now find out just how good this team can be without Rondo, as so many wished, and maybe they really are good enough to drive deep into the playoffs, or to even win a championship. I just wish we could have seen a combination of the team we saw tonight with Rondo at his best. I so wish we could have seen that. That team would have been a championship team, maybe, possibly a great team.
So you got your way, Haters. You hounded Rondo relentlessly, and now he's gone. Happy now?
Is that unfair? Is that a cheap shot? I don't think so. I don't think it's unfair at all. I don't think you wanted to see him injured, but I think you wanted to see him gone. Rondo was a great player. He was one of the greatest players I've ever seen. I'll miss him an awful lot. And I believe that he would have worked out the difficulties he was having leading this team, and if he did that, we might have seem some of the greatest basketball ever by a Celtics team.
I don't mean to be negative when using the past tense just now. It's just that the way I understand torn ACL injuries, they are very, very tough to come back from, and you really just don't know exactly what kind of player will come back.
Maybe Rondo will come back a better player. If he gives some pretty deep thought to improving on some of the fundamentals that folks have been griping about, he could come back better. What if he shot better, had better footwork, especially on defense, pushed the pace more but without relying so much on his sheer physical gifts, and so on? Could that make him a better player? Maybe? Maybe some time to think about what went well this season and what didn't will do him some good. Maybe he'll strengthen himself in ways that will help him, as he rehabilitates. Maybe he'll figure out better ways to be brilliant without dominating the ball quite so much, or if you have to dominate the ball Rondo, you MUST take responsibility for doing more with it.
And you've got to play tougher D.
Apparently Rondo told Maxwell after the game that he will be back in two weeks. He's such a tough kid. He tears his ACL in the Hawks game, still finishes the game, and tries to play tonight. I think that says a lot about him. I love the play where he apparently tore the acl, though not the results of the play. He was trying to take a page from Pierce, driving in the lane, whirling and going for the fallaway. I guess everyone wondered at the time why he weirdly failed to even release the shot. I guess now we know. He must have felt something pop in his knee at the time.
If anyone can come back in two weeks, and as a better player, it's Rondo. I'd love to see it. The official word is that he is out for the season.
Meanwhile, congratulations for an incredible win, Celtics. So gutsy. So tough. So together. A new Celtics story may start tonight, and maybe a great one.
Get well Rondo. We love you.