Paul Pierce suddenly scoring 24 points doesn’t mean the Boston Celtics are an Eastern powerhouse once again, but a second win in four days over the Orlando Magic (91-83), with Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen not playing, has to mean some good news for a team that looked over the hill just last week.
Dwight Howard had a bad day, or was forced into a bad day, as Kevin Garnett, playing center, did a great job on defense with 3 steals and 4 blocks to go along with his 10 rebounds and 12 points. Dwight Howard, troubled early by personal fouls, finished with 16 points and 16 rebounds, but a -25 in +/- and struggled from the field.
Pierce is showing greatness on a rare occasions these days, and his 24 point night wasn’t exactly legendary. He shot 7-18 from the field, but dished out 10 assists, and Doc Rivers’ ability to find someone else to lead the attack with play making while Rondo is injured will decide if the Celtics can look better and re-position themselves as natural candidates for a playoff spot.
There are the X-Factors, and on a team that lacks depth, at least on paper, finding a new player to contribute is crucial for the ailing and aging usual key player to lean on. E’Twaun Moore, the rookie, finished with 16 points and 4-4 from the outside, opening the 15-1 fourth quarter run that capped off the Celtics’ return from a 27 point deficit.
Can the Celtics go far with the current lineup? Probably not. The 8-9 record suits this team. They’re probably worth a bit more, and with a healthy Rondo a little bit more than that. But this is a team that doesn’t look with much of a future on the current roster. Rajon Rondo will soon find himself on his own from the championship core, in a scenario that happens every once in a while when great teams need to rebuild.
It doesn’t look like Danny Ainge is breaking apart the package, which means that he’ll need to keep this thing from falling apart a different way. Trading Rondo? Doesn’t look likely, but if the Celtics don’t want to enter another endless rebuilding period, or fall to the depths that the Detroit Pistons, a team that made a similar route in the mid 00’s, are in now, holding on to all the pieces won’t be very wise.