There's been a huge debate on whether or not the Celtics are better without Rajon Rondo. The classic argument is "A record of 15-6 is certainly better than a record of 20-23." The classic counter-argument is "No matter what happens in the regular season, Rondo usually shines in the playoffs."
This season, Rajon Rondo will not be stepping on the court with his team come playoff time, and since Rondo is the main man in the postseason, are the Celtics doomed? To that I say YES, and NO.
Rajon Rondo's playoff performance in the 2011-2012 season was great. In his 19 games, he averaged 17.3 points (career-high), 6.7 rebounds, 11.9 assists (career-high), and 3.8 turnovers (career-high), shooting 46.8% from the field (career-high) in 42.6 minutes (career-high). There were even a few triple-doubles sprinkled inside. It was a postseason where Rondo truly showed that he could commit, and expand his game to help the team win.
So here's the NO part.
To begin, a lot of Rondo's stats were so good because of how long he played. He was either first or second in the league last year when it came to average minutes played in the postseason (he could've been behind Luol Deng I'm not 100% sure). If you were to look at his entire post season career in terms of Per-36 Minutes, some of those numbers would not look that good.
In terms of Per-36 Minutes for last year's playoffs, Rondo averaged 14.6 points (second-highest of his career), 5.7 rebounds (second-highest of his career), 10.5 assists (still career high), and 3.2 turnovers (second-highest of his career), and he still shot the same FG% which is still a career high.
Then you can consider Rondo's last stretch of this season.
Rondo's 2012-2013 season ended on a six-game losing streak. During that streak, Rondo averaged 16.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 10.5 assists, and 5.3 turnovers, shooting 43% from the field, in 39 minutes. This stat line looks somewhat similar to his post season stat line. You could get the sense that Rondo really tried to will his team to a victory, so I don't buy the "Rondo wasn't on national television for all those games so he wasn't really trying" bit that people love to say. He averaged over 16 shot attempts a game during that stretch which is unheard of from Rondo.
Now here's the YES part.
Rondo loves the playoffs. I feel like he loves the excitement, the intensity, and the unpredictability of the post season. He likes to dazzle the fans, and give performances that people will talk about for years to come. There's no wonder why some of Rondo's best games have come in the post season.
When you lose Rondo, you lose a young player who already has 92 games, and over 3,500 minutes of playoff experience. You also lose a player who's played in 13 NBA Finals games. Rondo has been through it all, despite being so young. He's been through the injuries, the pressure, the disappointments, the achievements; pretty much everything the postseason has to offer.
He's also arguably the biggest mis-match the Celtics have for teams like the Heat, and Pacers. I'd take a Rondo-Chalmers, Rondo-Hill matchup any day of the week as opposed to a Pierce-James, or Pierce-George, or Garnett-Bosh, or Garnett-Hibbert matchup throughout a 7-game series.
Rondo is a huge reason why the Celtics have been successful in the past, but can the Celtics get an even better run without him in the future?
What are your thoughts? How much will Rondo be missed in the playoffs? Can the Celtics at least get to where they were last season?
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