MILWAUKEE The Celtics truly missed their floor leader late against the Bucks.
The Celtics have guards capable of filling in and filling up the stat sheet, but without Rajon Rondo the Celtics struggled in the final stages of Milwaukee's 91-88 come-from-behind win on Saturday night.
Rondo was serving the second of a two-game suspension for his role an incident involving Kris Humphries of Brooklyn. Rondo will be eligible to return to action on Wednesday against Minnesota.
Jason Terry did his best Rondo impersonation on Saturday with 15 points and 11 assists while his fellow backcourt partner Courtney Lee did his part by scoring 13 points in addition to a Rondo-like three steals.
But those numbers offer little solace when the C's look back at Saturday's loss as another game this season that they let slip away.
There's no way to quantify whether Rondo's presence would have won the game for Boston, but one thing is clear: It would have helped.
"He's a guy that can control a game by his pace," said Celtics forward Jeff Geen who had 18 points off the bench. "He's a leader. He would have gotten us in a position that we needed to be in on offense and we would have followed his lead on defense. He was sorely missed."
But without Rondo, a number of players have been afforded opportunities to showcase their sometimes-unnoticed skills.
Terry is known best for his ability to shoot threes, but many forget that the 14-year NBA veteran came into the league as a point guard. He reminded folks on Saturday with a game-high 11 assists with just one turnover.
And Courtney Lee has been a much better scorer in the three games this season without Rondo. A double-digit scorer throughout his four NBA seasons, Lee has had just three double-digit scoring games for the Celtics.
And those three games all came with Rondo out of the lineup.
"I'll let you read into all that," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "Maybe statistically. I just think Courtney has been playing better the last four or five games, period."
While the Celtics would love to say that Rondo will play the rest of the season without missing any games, that guarantee doesn't exist for him or any other Celtic.
"They have to prove they can play, they can function (without Rondo)," Rivers said. "You have to be prepared for injuries or suspensions or whatever. Your team in an 82 game schedule, you're not going to be perfect every night with the exact lineup you want and the exact guys."