NBA Beat: Loss of Rondo for year creates void for Boston

Published: Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 5C
Last Modified: Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013 - 9:04 am

No one would ever accuse Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers of sugarcoating his feelings about his team.

All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo is out for the season with a torn right ACL.

The Celtics don't have a player who can replace him. Not even close.

And there are no All-Star guards with triple-double potential walking through the door.

"We don't have a guy anymore that's talented enough to hold the ball and create plays with his eyes and orchestrate," Rivers said. "That's just not who we are."

The Celtics are a team with an evolving identity that's fighting just to make the playoffs.

The franchise that points to its 17 NBA championship banners as signs of its lofty standards was below .500 when Rondo was injured Jan. 25 at Atlanta.

The Celtics have won three consecutive games to even their record at 23-23 since losing Rondo.

Without another facilitator on the roster and their two most accomplished players – Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett – no longer at their peak, the Celtics will rely on team basketball more than ever.

Rivers said the ball has to move quickly to give the Celtics their best chance at keeping defenses off balance.

Then there's the question of who plays point guard. There has been talk of cajoling veteran Keyon Dooling out of retirement. Or would the Celtics really want to bring Delonte West back?

The Celtics could just scrap this season, deal Pierce and Garnett and try to find young talent to put around Rondo when he returns.

The plan for now is to stick with the current roster and a starting backcourt of Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee.

Neither is the playmaker Rondo is. Rondo was averaging a league-leading 11.1 assists. Lee averages 1.5 and Bradley 1.1.

Without Rondo dominating the ball, opportunities for assists figure to increase for all the Celtics.

Lee said whoever has the designation of point guard is irrelevant. Everyone will have a chance to be a playmaker.

"It doesn't matter," Lee said. "Either one of us is going to be the point guard. We worked on it in practice. Avery started off running plays and then in transition. If I get the rebound, I'll be able to run the plays. It's the same with Paul, too. You can look at all of us as point guards."

The Celtics don't have much of a choice but to do things that way.

Stat watch

Rondo was on pace to lead the NBA in assists for the second consecutive season. His injury opens the door for the Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Paul or even New Orleans' Greivis Vasquez to win the assist crown.

Before last season, Steve Nash and Jason Kidd (five times each) and Paul (twice) had combined to collect the assist title in 12 of the previous 13 seasons. Only Andre Miller (2001-02 with Cleveland) broke through that trio to lead the league in assists over that span.

Tweet of the week

"Thanks to the fans and my teammates in Memphis for the memories. Came in a 19 year old kid now leaving a 26 year old man..thank you!" – Toronto forward Rudy Gay (@rudygay22) after being traded from Memphis as part of a three-team deal that gives the Raptors the dynamic wing player they sought. The trade also shed Memphis of Gay's big salary.

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