Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
Back in mid-February, I posted a 10-game progress report that tracked how the Celtics had played in the 10 games that Rajon Rondo had missed in 2013. The point had nothing to do with Rondo, but was more to evaluate the level of play of the current squad. My conclusion at that time was that, thru 10 games, they were playing like a contender. But 10 games is too small of a sample size, so this needs to continue to be tracked. So for today, let's look at how the Celtics have played thru 16 games in 2013 sans Rondo (15 games since the actual injury).
16 games played
12 wins, 4 losses
Scoring margin of +4.9
Average SRS of 16 opponents: 1.3
Road record: 4 - 4
Home record: 8 - 0
Average Offensive rating: 105.5 pts/100 possessions (League average is 105.5, would be 14th in NBA)
Average Defensive rating: 100.3 pts allowed/100 poss (League avg is 105.5, would be 3rd in NBA)
Thoughts: Since the 10-game update there's been an All Star break, a very taxing trade deadline in which everyone on the team was rumored to be dealt, and a grueling 5-game West coast road trip featuring five games in seven nights. Through it all, the team continues to grind through in their new signature style...which, coincidentally, strongly resembles their old signature style: stifling team defense, sprinkled in with just enough team offense to get the victory.
Also of note, Rondo wasn't the only major rotation player to get injured. Jared Sullinger went down immediately after Rondo, and Leandro Barbosa went down immediately before the 10-game update. In the weeks since, the Celtics have tried to replace this talent with 4 new players: Terrence Williams, Jordan Crawford, and now 10-day big men D.J. White and Shavlik Randolph. The Celtics have gone through some growing pains as they've attempted to integrate in new players to the system, but it appears that the rotations are starting to take shape.
Conclusions: The team still looks good. The challenges brought them back to earth a bit after their torrid start, but they're still winning at a 75% clip with a scoring margin of +4.9 in the 16 games...this would still put them firmly in the mix with the Heat, Pacers, Thunder, Spurs, and Clippers as contenders. So far...still, so good on the quest for #18.