I just love Larry Johnson's cartoons on WEEI. Above is a recent one on Rondo, who has indeed been the real superman in these playoffs, for the Celtics, at least. He is playing huge minutes because the Celtics have no one to replace him. It's funny. In 2008, the Celtics brought in Sam Cassell to back up Rondo because Eddie wasn't a true PG and Eddie ended up being the back up anyway and did a good job of it. Then last season they brought in Stephon Marbury to back up Rondo but once again Eddie ended up being the guy they turned to down the stretch to back up the PG spot. This season they brought in Nate Robinson to back up Rondo. Originally, Marquis was supposed to be the PG back up and he has been the forgotten man, getting no minutes in the playoffs. Nate isn't getting the job done and now we have no Eddie to go back to. Tony's been giving him a few minutes but that definitely isn't ideal. Hopefully Rondo won't get burned out and will have enough in the tank to get us to the gold ball.
The Celtics are a scary team the way they are playing. They have once again found their defensive identity and are playing defense like they haven't since the 2008 playoffs. They are also tough for teams to plan for. They just have so many weapons. Teams used to be able to double off of Rondo but those days are over. Any player they double off of, including the subs, are capable of burning them. That makes them a very dangerous team.
Perk fouled out for just the 4th time this season in game 2 and the Celtics are just 1-3 when he fouls out. Perk is so much more important to this team than the box score shows, especially against Howard and the Magic. What he does you won't see in the box score, but you don't win without it either.
It wouldn't be my random thoughts without a few about the refs. Game 3 of the Cavs series that Salvatore and Mauer called was terrible. It was one sided and part of the reason that the Celtics got blown out on their home court by the Cavs. But I have to say that games 4, 5 and 6 were very well and fairly officiated. They called it the same on both ends of the court. Game 1 in Orlando was fairly officiated. They let them play and called it the same on both ends for the most part. Game 2 was terrible. After being allowed to play playoff basketball in game 1, these refs called some very ticky tack fouls. And they just weren't consistent. They'd let something go one time and then call it the next time down. But it was terrible on both sides. It wasn't biased. There were bad calls on the Celtics (the last 2 fouls called on Perk for instance) and there were bad calls on the Magic (that charge they called on Reddick comes to mind).
One reason the Celtics should not want to go back to Orlando is their slippery floor. Rondo slipped 3 times because of the wet floor and it cost the Celtics a possession on the last one in a very crucial time. Vince Carter slipped and came down on his wrist and that could have cost him and the Magic a whole lot more than a possession. Thankfully he was ok but that is something the officials have to be on top of and if the floor continually gets slippery spots as it did in game 2, they need to stop play until they can figure it out. Running full speed and cutting like the players do on the court can result in an injury if they hit one of those slippery spots.
The word came down that Howard will not be suspended. I'm ok with that because I'd rather beat them at full strength so we won't have to hear excuses all off season and next season. But anyone being honest will admit that it it was Perk, KG or Sheed who committed a foul that hard on say Carter or Nelson, it would have been a flagrant 2 right off the bat. Perk got called for a flagrant 1 on LeBron for barely touching him. KG's elbow barely touched QRich. Howard clobbered Pierce with the intent of doing just that. To send a message. It should have been a flagrant 2 if they were being consistent. But they aren't. But, it should give us a free pass to clobber one of their guys going to the basket and get the same treatment.
The Celtics have won the first 2 games of the series on the road for the first time in their storied franchise history. That's pretty amazing. But then again, for most of their series, I imagine they had the home court advantage and the first two games would be on their home court. The Celtics are 32-0 when starting a series 2-0. But the fact that it's never happened before shouldn't be reason to relax. Last year they were up 3-2 and had never lost a series up 3-2 with home court advantage and they lost the series. So although history bodes well for the Celtics, they can't rest on their laurels and have to play hard and give them no hope.