One of the problems I've seen with the Celtics ever since Rondo has emerged as an All-Star, has been the reliance on Rondo. Day in and and day out Rondo logs the most minutes mainly because the team needs him to make plays. WIthout Rondo, often times the offense seems stagnant and out of sync. During this preseason, I liked that Doc limited the minutes for Rondo, not only to conserve his energy, but also to see how the offense plays without him, and who makes the offense flow when he isn't on the court. The next option would of course be Paul Pierce but he isn't as young as springtime anymore so you can his expect his minutes to be limited as well. In these 2 games, Rondo and Pierce have accounted for 50% of the 72 field goals the Celtics have made in preseason thus far (their field goals made as well as the assists they've dished out). So my question is, who has the ball in his hands when Rondo and Pierce are no longer on the court?
Jeff Green: Doc didn't play much of the starters in the second half of the of the first game against Istanbul. The most interesting aspect of that game was the fourth quarter. On the court you had Jamar Smith, Dionte Christmas, Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger, and Fab Melo.
The offense seemed a little stagnant in the beginning, but you began to see that Jeff Green understood that he was the best player on the court at that point in time, and he continued to keep the ball in his hands and taking it to the rim, where the Istanbul defense had no answer for him. Green scored 5/6 field goals made in the 4th quarter for the Celtics.
Green was also the player that ended the mini-drought that the Celtics suffered after Rondo dropped 17 points on Milano after the first quarter. That second quarter was ultimately handled by the Celtic defense. Jeff Green and Brandon Bass made timely jump shots that kept the Celtics ahead of the game.
Jamar Smith: He's been struggling so far in the preseason, but you get the sense that Doc Rivers still has faith in Smith. Both of Smith's preseason game stats have been similar.
Smith played 12 minutes, a lot of them coming in the fourth quarter. Smith has averaged 2 points and 1 rebound, shooting 21% from the field (25% against Istanbul and 17% against Milano).
In the Istanbul game, Smith had a quick trigger finger, he expressed how nervous he was once he got on the court, and it showed. Smith rushed a lot of his shots, usually shooting it early in the shot clock.
In the second game against Milano, Smith showed more patience, and his willingness to pass the ball on the fast break instead of finishing it himself (even though Courtney Lee gave the ball right back). Smith only went 1-6 for the night, getting his only basket from a Courtney Lee assist.
Dionte Christmas: Christmas didn't see much playing time against Istanbul, only logging 7 minutes, and going 0-1 from the field. But against Milano, Christmas turned it up.
Christmas logged 9 minutes earning himself 9 points shooting 67% from the field and going 1-2 from 3-point range. Christmas also showed that he can do a lot of dirty work, grabbing 4 rebounds. 2 of them came offensively (second only to Sullinger who had 3 for the game).
Christmas is quick and has more than enough confidence to knock down any shot available to him. I also like Christmas' versatility. He can knock down the outside shot, as well as take the ball coast to coast and finishing at the basket.
The only thing I'd like to see from Christmas and Smith is their passing abilities. Both players have yet to log an assist, and I think a lot of it has to do with how determined they are to get a guaranteed contract, so they both want to impact the game directly, by scoring as much as they can in the time that they have.
Jason Terry: This will likely be the choice, however I believe that Terry will be less inclined to pass like he's been doing thus far in the preseason if he's the best player on the court. He did a lot of Pick N Roll with Dirk Nowitzki in Dallas, but with limited minutes going to Garnett, he may not be able to do it as well, or as often as he may want to.
I'm really hoping for either one these guys to be a traditional pass-first point guard (not Terry because I want him attempting 15-20 shots a game), or for the Celtics to get a pass-first point guard. Perhaps players similar to Jose Calderon or even Andre Miller.
What are your thoughts? Would you like another pass-first point guard to keep Terry in his shooting guard position? Why or Why not? Can any of the rookies become this traditional point guard? Who do you feel comfortable with holding the ball once Pierce and/or Rondo sit on the bench?