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Irish Coffee: Celtics’ individual titles slipping away

Wake up with the Celtics [1] and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

While the Celtics’ blowout loss to the Heat probably dashed their hopes for the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 seed, with it likely went a couple of individual milestones for Rajon Rondo [2] and Ray Allen [3].

After Sunday’s poor showing in Miami, Rondo trails Suns point guard Steve Nash [4] for the NBA’s assist crown and Hornets point guard Chris Paul [5] for the steals title. Meanwhile, Allen is still chasing Spurs forward Matt Bonner for the league lead in 3-point shooting percentage.

For much of the season, Rondo led the league in assists, but his numbers have dipped in recent weeks and Nash slid into the top spot. With two games left, Nash is averaging 11.4 assists (829 in 73 games), while Rondo is producing 11.2 (760 in 68). In all likelihood, that crown is out of reach for Rondo, considering he would need 35 assists in the final two games if Nash maintains his current 11.356 assists per game average.

The NBA’s returning steals leader, Rondo has trailed Paul by a slim margin for the majority of this year. Paul is averaging 2.36 steals (184 in 78 games), while Rondo is producing 2.25 (153 in 68 games). The C’s point guard would need 13 steals in his last two games to surpass Paul’s current 2.359 steals per game average.

Despite being the NBA’s all-time career 3-point leader, Allen has never won a single-season 3-point shooting title. Making 168-of-378 3-point attempts — producing the highest percentage (.444) of his career –Allen made a push for the crown this year. But Bonner has connected on 102-of-224 treys (.455), so Allen would need to make his next eight 3-point attempts to surpass Bonner’s current 3-point shooting percentage.


Bring on the “Why the hell did Danny Ainge blow up this Celtics team?” discussion, because everywhere you look some NBA opponent is spouting off about how different they are without Kendrick Perkins.

Following the Heat’s 100-77 win — featuring a 15-3 offensive rebounding discrepancy — Miami’s Chris Bosh joined a group of NBA players who appear glad to see Perkins out of Boston, telling the Boston Herald [7]:

“It’€™s just a difference in players. Kendrick brought a certain element to that team, and it’s not there anymore.”

Considering the Celtics won their first two meetings of the season against the Heat without Perkins, that seems like a bit of a leap to me. But former Celtics and current Bulls forward Brian Scalabrine [8] backed up Bosh’s point during a discussion with CSNNE.com [9]:

“For us, Perkins was an intimidating factor at the rim. Kevin [Garnett] and Perkins out there, that’s a big deal.”

Coming from Scalabrine, that’s a bit more disconcerting, although the Bulls never faced post-ACL tear Perkins this season. And then there’s this from Kobe Bryant [10]:

“He’s a great team defender. I’ve always said he was the best low-post defender in the league.”

That’s a pretty compelling argument that Ainge made a mistake trading Perkins. Still, only time will tell. I still don’t see how a Celtics team that started the season 33-10 without Perkins and won five straight following the Perkins trade could be this affected by the absence of a guy who will likely never make an all-star team.

After all, the Celtics’ defense has allowed 91.3 points per game in 68 games without Perkins this season. That’s better than either of the past two seasons with him.

The problem lies in the offense. And if the Heat bench outscores the Celtics’ bench 32-12 every night in the playoffs, the C’s aren’t going to get to the conference finals. But do you honestly expect Joel Anthony [11] will produce seven points and 10 rebounds a night against the Celtics?

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’€™s Irish Coffee or a future mailbag? Send an e-mail tobrohrbach@weei.com [12] or a Twitter message to @brohrbach [13].)