So, within 24 hours of posting this, we found out that the Celtics would see what a world without Rondo would look like—but not due to a trade. Instead, Rondo tore his ACL and is 99.9% likely to miss the rest of the season.
And, almost universally (mostly due to the eternal optimism of the Kevin Garnett era), Celtics fans thought they'd be better off.
Pundits, analysts, and critics all circled in on some of the same things I had pointed out:
- the Celtics' offense wasn't elite with Rondo; it was downright bad. How much worse could it get?
- Rondo's style of offense might not be conducive to the types of players the Celtics have now
- Maybe this team needs some new blood on offense
And now we'll find out. In the first game of the post-Rondo era (admittedly, against the lowly Kings), the Celtics did what everyone wanted to see: push the ball, move the ball on offense (no hero ball) and get open shots, and play hounding defense. Six players in double figures, with two more players within a bucket of double figures. Seven players with 2 or more assists.
Yes, they struggled sometimes to get the ball up the court, but Lee and Bradley should get better with experience. Yes, they struggled to get good shots when the Kings went to a zone, but that'll get easier as Doc and the coaching staff get more comfortable with the new setup.
The team looked like … a team. Something that hasn't really happened this year.
I'm not saying losing Rondo cures all the Celtics ills. They aren't likely to get out of the first round of the playoffs this year. Unless Pierce and Garnett retire, they're not likely to be in a great cap position next year to make changes to the team.
But we're going to learn what a Celtics team without the 2013 incarnation of Rajon Rondo looks like, and I think it's going to be a prettier sight than you might thing.