It’s not like he was gone a long time; Rajon Rondo was only suspended for two games. Still, the Boston Celtics did lose twice in the 2.5 games he missed, so having him back for yet another double double (his 11th of the season) was pretty good news to have, while Kevin Garnett his best imitation of a tough guy against his former team.
That’s Garnett, and these are 2012-2013 Boston Celtics. A team filled with years of experience and a mentality that pushes them to be aggressive and physical, but the the bodies don’t always respond to what Doc Rivers is asking. When you’re playing the Minnesota Timberwolves, still without Andrei Kirilenko and Ricky Rubio, it’s not that hard acting all bad and strong. Kevin Garnett got his reputation by putting on his “evil” act against these kind of opponents.
But too much was being made about Garnett playing his former team. He finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds, playing like he’s trying to prove… what? Not sure. The Celtics have beaten the Timberwolves each time these two teams have met since the trade that sent Kevin Garnett to Boston in 2007, and began a revival in Celtic-pride, reaching two NBA finals and winning their first title since 1986.
While Garnett was busy harassing easy pray in the 104-94 win which saw Boston take their time before they really started to get going, Rajon Rondo, the Celtics’ best player, was enjoying playing against a team with a weak defense and an even weaker bunch of guards to defend him. He finished with points and 11 assists, although his attempts to make anything happen from the outside were thwarted once again, finishing with 0-3 from beyond the arc. He’s 27.3% this season when it comes to three pointers.
Those were the two important things for Rivers in this one, and probably this season: For Rajon Rondo to feel confident and in control, comfortable to shoot as he feels comfortable feeding other players, while the Celtics prove there’s still some defense left in this group. They kept the Timberwolves scoreless for nearly 5 minutes during the fourth quarter, as they opened a lead that was too much for the visitors to catch up with.
Rondo is now averaging a league best 12.8 assists, but Rivers still wants him to be more aggressive with his decisions, more selfish. He is averaging 13.2 points per game; not enough if the Celtics are to be going far this season. It’s not every night that Garnett, Jason Terry and Paul Pierce all finish with at least 17 points.
Defense? The Celtics are right in the middle of the pack in points allowed, with opponents averaging 97.7 points against them. Things have improved this last week, going 2-2 while not allowing 100 points in their last four games. They’d like to think that the team that showed up against the Oklahoma City Thunder (112-100) or against the Blazers last week are the real Boston Celtics. A team that doesn’t get the it deserves, and will stun everyone, once again, when the postseason arrives.
After all, that is what Doc Rivers has to sell to his players. He knows his bench isn’t good and deep enough to contend with the best teams in the NBA. He knows that three of his four best scorers are closer to 40 than 30. He knows that his best player isn’t a reliable scorer, with all of his talents. Pounding the underdogs and disrespected mantra is all he has left to try and make something of a season that looks completely mediocre up to this point.