On Wednesday night the Celtics faced the Kings in what might have been the last time a Sacramento team comes to the TD Garden. The Celtics looked to begin the first chapter of their season without Rajon Rondo who was diagnosed with a torn ACL after pregame warm-ups Sunday. The Kings came to town amidst a potential relocation to Seattle and looked to get their second win over the Celtics, this time on the road.
The biggest question coming into tonight's game was whether or not the Celtics can still be a playoff team without their leader in Rondo. The Celtics have a surplus of guards on the roster yet no pure point guards who can quarterback the offensive. Doc made it clear the team would look to play a "point guard free" offense where everyone handles the ball and looks to feed the open man. The Celtics came out on a mission to show fans and naysayers alike they're still going to compete at a high level and did just that winning 99-81 over the Kings.
Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley (0) drives against Sacramento Kings guard Isaiah Thomas (22) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Going forward it looks like Doc will look to start Courtney Lee at the point and Jared Sullinger has recently regained a starting spot. This resulted in a starting line-up of Lee, Bradley, Pierce, Sullinger, and Garnett. Unfortunately Sullinger played just four minutes in the game leaving to get treatment for back spasms. He was originally diagnosed as a probable return just getting stimulant and treatment. This would not be the case as he was ruled out. We can only hope this isn't the first sign of the issues Sully was red flagged for prior to the draft that allowed him to slide to the 21st pick.
The Celtics had a great offensive night especially in the second quarter scoring a season high 37 points. The team did a great job distributing the ball as six Celtics players finished in double digit scoring, nearly seven as Courtney Lee finished with 9 points. Paul Pierce led the team with 16 points and also added 10 rebounds, 4 assists to his stat line.
Terry, Green, and Bass all chipped in 12 points off the bench. It was great to see each finally find a rhythm, particularly Terry and Bass who have really struggled this year. This may be the start of good things for all three as each looks to score with the ball in their hands as opposed to the catch and shoot style Rondo utilized.
Boston Celtics guard Courtney Lee (11) drives to the hoop against Sacramento Kings guard Tyreke Evans (13) as forward Jason Thompson (34) watches during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
If the offensive performance wasn't impressive enough the team defense was even better. The Celtics we're able to hold Sacramento to 39.2% shooting on the night. This was a very drastic change from their last match-up in Sacramento as they allowed 118 points. Tyreke Evans led the Kings and had a game high 19 points on 7-15 shooting. DeMarcus Cousins, the highly coveted Center struggled shooting 4-12 on the night for 12 points but still grabbed 6 rebounds, and 4 assists.
The first installment of the 2012-2013 season without Rondo was a success. Maybe the loss of Rondo has finally given this team a sense of purpose, an identity they've searched for all year. In years past during "the KG era" we've seen the team become fueled by disbelievers and critics who called the Celtics too old. Going forward without Rondo was certainly not in the plans but hopefully this team can come together and finally play to the potential everyone anticipated.
The Celtics face the Orlando Magic next game Friday at home in the TD Garden. The Celtics will look to build a two game win streak and get back to .500 going to 23-23. This is certainly a must win game as they face one of the West's top teams in the Clippers on Sunday.