|Posted by paul on August 11, 2013 at 7:05 AM|
One thing I don't want to do this summer is become as excited about the Celtics as I was last summer. Last summer, Ainge's moves seemed so smart, and Rondo seemed so ready to take on the leadership role, that it really felt like a new day was going to dawn. Well, I guess a new day did dawn, but a drizzly day, with worms washed up on the sidewalk and a leaky sunroof in the car. And that was before lightning struck, the wheels feel off, went back on, fell back off, went back on, and finaly fell off and rolled off down the street. In the end we felt stranded, and then as Doc seemed to force his way off the team, followed closely by Pierce, we felt abandoned - or I did. But then some good things started to happen. Danny seemed to commit himself to rebuilding around Rondo, and then he hired a new coach who seemed full of promise, who also embraced Rondo's new role as the team leader, and then Sully started to speak up about the pride the 'new Celtics' are going to have, and this began to look like a young, hungry team, led by Rajon Rondo, with a passionate young coach eager to build a strong team, eager to work with the guys on hand, more interested in his team than in the local golf course. Even the guys from the Nets are looking less like rejects and more like guys in need of another chance. So hope is arising.
It's been really annoying in recent weeks to see commenters wondering how Rondo will do without KG's and Pierce's 'help'. It's like they are stuck in a 2008 timewarp. Rondo has been the key guy on this team for several years already, and while KG has adapted to that, Pierce - in my view - all too clearly has not. It's just as reasonable to wonder how Rondo will do without the interference of the Big Three and Doc, with a team that is free to build its own identity, a team that isn't stuck on trying to relive former glory days. The question, for me, isn't how will Rondo do without the 'help' of the Big Three and Doc. It's more will Rondo be able to establish himself as the leader of this new group?
We've talked a lot here about the importance of defense for Rondo, if he's to establish himself as the leader of this new team. Last year, Rondo's apparent nonchalance on defense seemed to cost him the respect of his teammates. Even KG started singing the praises of Lee and Bradley as a backcourt pair. It was sad to see because we know that Rondo can be one of the best defenders in the league. At the same time, part of the problem was that Rondo's teammates didn't seem to understand the system. I suspect that Stevens will work pretty intensely on getting everyone onto the same defensive page. I also hope he'll consider changing substitution patterns a little. If this team is going to press, as surely it will have to do, extending the court all the way, as much as it can, guys will surely have to play in shorter bursts, and maybe they should spend a little less time resting too. I always thought that Doc tended to rest people until they got cold. I think this team will play tough defense, especially on the perimeter, and I think Rondo will lead the way.
There's one thing that I think is important that I've not seen anyone talking about; don't we finally have, in Gerald Wallace, an enforcer? We haven't had one since Perkins. Wallace seems to have the size, fierceness and loyal mentality to be an enforcer, and we've badly needed one since Perkins left. And yes, it's for Rondo. Here again I like to compare Rondo to Orr. Yes, Orr was plenty tough, and he was willing to mix it up wth anyone, but you still needed a Derek Sanderson on the team, along with other tough guys. If you didn't have that, other teams would just maul Orr. When one player is so exceptional, unless he's Shaq, you have got to have enforcers around. Rondo is possibly the most talented player in the game, and he's also one of the most vulnerable, physically. Having an enforcer around to keep the Kleizas and Wades of the world off Rondo will liberate Rondo to play his game . I think Wallace could be one of our most important pickups for that reason alone, and he may also thrive as a player on a hungrier team that plays uptempo.
For fans, it's such an agonizing waiting game now. Will Rondo come back strong? And will he come back soon?
I decided to change from Rondo Reports to Rondo Ravings. How does that sound?