Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Red Hot Celtics Start 5 Game Home Stand - Rondo's Leadership? - Bradley's Impact?
The Boston Celtics are one of the hottest teams in the NBA right now, and have begun to turn their season around after winning three games against top competition to return to .500. The next five games they play (all at the TD Garden) will be their crucial opportunity to start moving up the standings in the East.
There are plenty of good teams in the East this year, but no great ones so far, Boston needs to gain momentum and join the conversation. Paul Pierce is tired of the inconsistencies; "I'm tired of seeing flashes of it for six minutes here or there, and then take six minutes off. I'm tired of that now. I don't have too much left in the tank as far as my career, so this is it. I feel like the East is wide open, so there is a tremendous opportunity out there for us." Check out this great link on the Boston Celtics website that previews their matchup against the Suns and looks into their five upcoming games at home:
Boston Celtics game preview
Rondo will return from his suspension, hopefully picking up where he left off. Maybe I have been a little hard on Rondo in past posts, the Knicks game was very telling that the Celtics' character does not take a hit with Rondo out of the lineup. Many keep pushing for Rondo to be the leader, but perhaps he needs to simply lead with his play.
Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce proved in the Rondo-less victory over the Knicks that they are the heart and soul of this Boston Celtics team. If they can provide that spirit every game, then if becomes OK for Rondo to simply lead by playing his hardest. The only problem is Rondo has been knocked for stepping his game up in Nationally televised games, and taking nights off when he pleases.
Rondo's success in the National spotlight is no secret, ESPN is well aware of it. Rondo is just not the type of guy who is going to take the emotional reigns to the team, fortunately KG and Pierce are. But the Celts will need number nines best effort each night if they are to succeed.
Another contributor to the Celtics recent success (and major key to their future) has to be Avery Bradley. His numbers have not jumped off the stat sheet since his return, but his impact has been undeniable, and it starts in the win column. Since making his season debut on January 2nd against the Grizzlies, Bradley has been seeing about 24 minutes in his four games, averaging 7.3 points, 2 rebounds and 1.8 assists.
Despite loosing to the Grizzlies, Boston showed a lot of heart in an attempt to come back, and have spun that momentum into their current three game win streak. A streak you could argue has been sparked by Bradley's effort on the defensive side of the ball. Bradley, along with Courtney Lee, have been picking up the opposing guards full-court, and the team defense has been stelar since. With KG backing them up under the basket, opponents are shooting a mere 38% from the field during the win streak.
Avery broke out last game in a big role against the Knicks. Without Rondo, Bradley played 33 minutes, scoring 13 points and dishing out five dimes. Now Rondo and Bradley just need to get on the same page for the Celtics to make the push to the postseason. But if one thing was made clear in New York, it's that Pierce and Garnett will be carrying this team to the finish line emotionally.