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Irish Coffee: Celtics, with or without Rondo

Posted By Ben Rohrbach On May 1, 2012 @ 12:37 pm In General | 44 Comments

Gone for Game 2 are Rajon Rondo‘s averages of 11.9 points, 11.7 assists and 4.8 boards in 36.9 minutes a night, so who can the Celtics count on to replace his scoring, distribution and rebounding?

In the wake of Rondo’s suspension for Tuesday night’s game in Atlanta (7:30 p.m., NBA TV), perhaps a look at how other Celtics performed in the point guard’s 13-game absence this season will answer that question.

For starters, we’ll examine how the void left by Rondo affects the other … um … well … the starters.

KEVIN GARNETT

Season averages: 31.1 MIN, 15.8 PTS, 8.2 REB, 2.9 AST
Sans Rondo (10 G): 31.2 MIN, 13.8 PTS, 7.6 REB, 2.8 AST

BRANDON BASS

Season averages: 31.7 MIN, 12.5 PTS, 6.2 REB, 0.9 AST
Sans Rondo (11 G): 32.7 MIN, 12.9 PTS, 6.2 REB, 1.6 AST

PAUL PIERCE

Season averages: 34.0 MIN, 19.4 PTS, 5.2 REB, 4.5 AST
Sans Rondo (12 G): 33.7 MIN, 21.0 PTS, 7.1 AST, 5.3 REB

RAY ALLEN

Season averages: 34.0 MIN, 14.2 PTS, 3.1 REB, 2.4 AST
Sans Rondo (7 G): 32.1 MIN, 14.7 PTS, 4.6 AST, 2.9 REB

AVERY BRADLEY

Season averages: 21.4 MIN, 7.6 PTS, 1.8 REB, 1.4 AST
Sans Rondo (13 G): 32.5 MIN, 10.5 PTS, 2.6 REB, 2.7 AST

This was the most common lineup without Rondo available. It’s no shock Garnett and Bass (and Greg Stiemsma) performed either comparably or worse, since much of their offense relies on Rondo in pick-and-pop situations.

Also, as we already knew, Pierce assumes most of the ball-handling responsibilities in this group. He’s able to replace some of Rondo’s scoring and distributing production, especially in relationship to the bigs.

Bradley helps, too, particularly since his midseason emergence. Since Feb. 1, he’s averaged 15.7 points and 2.7 assists in six games sans Rondo, including 28 points and three assists against the Hawks on April 20.

Allen’s assistance is perhaps the most surprising. He assumed almost as much of the distributing role as Pierce in seven of the 13 games, although the Celtics are just 3-4 with Allen and without Rondo (and 5-1 without either). Regardless, the latest on Allen’s ankle status for Game 2 is this from Doc Rivers: “I don’t see it right now. [1]

These five (or probably four) would get plenty of minutes with or without Rondo, so who picks up that slack?

[2]

Will Doc Rivers turn to C's rookie E'Twaun Moore in Rajon Rondo's absence? (AP)

MICKAEL PIETRUS

Season averages: 21.9 MIN, 6.9 PTS, 3.1 REB, 0.6 AST
Sans Rondo (9 G): 28.2 MIN, 9.0 PTS, 4.9 REB, 1.2 AST

SASHA PAVLOVIC

Season averages: 11.7 MIN, 2.7 PTS, 1.6 REB, 0.4 AST
Sans Rondo (11 G): 15.4 MIN, 4.1 PTS, 2.0 REB, 0.6 AST

KEYON DOOLING

Season averages: 14.4 MIN, 4.0 PTS, 1.1 AST, 0.8 REB
Sans Rondo (6 G): 19.3 MIN, 6.0 PTS, 1.5 AST, 1.2 REB

E’TWAUN MOORE

Season averages: 8.7 MIN, 2.9 PTS, 0.9 AST, 0.9 REB
Sans Rondo (13 G): 14.7 MIN, 5.2 PTS, 1.3 AST, 1.6 REB

With Bradley moving into the starting point guard slot and Allen unlikely to play, Pietrus will start at shooting guard. As a result, Dooling and Moore are the available reserve points while Pavlovic backs up at the two.

The Sasha experiment failed quickly and miserably in Game 1, so Pietrus becomes invaluable. If the Celtics have any hope Tuesday, his scoreless performance in 20 minutes of the playoff opener can’t repeat itself. He’ll be given 30-plus minutes, which has translated into positive results. In the six games he exceeded 30 minutes during the regular season, Pietrus averaged 12.0 points (reaching double digits all but once) and 6.3 rebounds.

Outside of a 17-point performance against the Hawks almost two weeks ago, when Rivers rested five of the C’s top eight rotation players, Dooling hasn’t done much to replace Rondo, averaging just 3.8 points and 1.2 assists in his five other games sans the starting point guard.

Actually, Moore has been far more consistent moving into the backup point guard spot behind Bradley. He played all 13 games in Rondo’s absence, and eight of the 12 times he scored five or more points this season came in those games, including his 16-point effort in the 27-point comeback against the Magic on Jan. 26.

Rivers’ reluctance to play rookies even during the regular season is notorious, so it might be a stretch to expect him to play Moore over Dooling, but perhaps it’s time to give Moore gets the first playoff minutes of his career.

The Celtics finished 8-5 without Rondo during the regular season, so an upset of the Hawks (4.5-point favorites) isn’t out of the realm of possibility. It’s just more difficult, most heavily reliant upon Pierce, Pietrus and Bradley.

(Have a question, concern or conception for the next Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach [3] on Twitter.)


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