The Brooklyn Nets are the most impossible team to read this season, capable of beating the best teams in the West before losing to the worst teams in the East. Paul Pierce was awful once again upon his visit to his former home arena, while Rajon Rondo, in a mistake filled night, pulled the Boston Celtics wagon forward in a rare moment of actually being proud of the work that’s done there this season.
Rondo turned the ball over 7 times, part of a 28-turnover game for the Celtics. Somehow, they still managed to pick up the win, beating the Nets 91-84. He added 20 points, 7 rebounds and 9 assists, seemingly determined to show a former teammate and everyone else in general that he’s capable of playing well without them, not to mention beating them. Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry weren’t playing, but seeing Pierce in front of him was obviously enough.
In a game between two teams without much of a frontline, the Nets were humiliated, losing 51-28 on the boards, partially thanks to their awful shooting. They were 36.3% from the field, and even worse from beyond the arc, which didn’t stop them from shooting more and more, hitting only 4-of-30, as Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Marcus Thornton combined to shoot 21 of those 3’s.
The Celtics’ frontline has rarely been getting any kind of applause this season from anyone, but it was hard to complain about this unit this time. Kelly Olynyk had an excellent performance off the bench with 13 points and 7 rebounds in 17 minutes, while Kris Humphries and Brandon Bass put in solid performances as well, combining for 16 points and 13 rebounds, but most importantly not making it easy to score against them in the paint, although the Nets weren’t very hard to stop no matter what the spot in the loss.
Jason Kidd talked about not taking anyone lightly after the game. Maybe that’s the problem for the Nets, who seem to think of themselves as a lot better than their record is indicating. At .500, they won’t be able to host anyone in the playoffs, and for a team that struggles away from home and not having too much rest, that might be crucial. They still themselves as a team built to succeed in the playoffs, but they’re not good enough, and haven’t won enough early on, to allow these kind of disrespecting performances against one of the worst teams in the NBA.
Rondo is probably making more mistakes than in the past. Not having the luxury of hall of fame teammates does that to a player. But he’s the only one on this Celtics team with a special kind of drive and winners mentality about him. The Celtics, including next season (probably) aren’t going to be a very talented team. But the more of Rondo’s good qualaties rub off on them, the easier it’ll be for them to get back to where this team was two or three years ago, even if it’ll be without the big names that played for this team from 2007-2013.