Celtics miss floor leader Rondo vs. Bucks

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Celtics miss floor leader Rondo vs. Bucks

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."

Stars, studs and duds: Olynyk finding his stride off Celtics bench

Stars, studs and duds: Olynyk finding his stride off Celtics bench

BOSTON – It’s easy to forget that Kelly Olynyk went several months without doing anything basketball-related as he was on the mend from shoulder surgery.

His return had its share of ups and downs, but it seems the 7-foot center has found his stride and he’s making opponents pay for it.

For the second time in as many games, Olynyk came up big for the Celtics as Boston continued on its winning ways with a 108-98 win over Charlotte.

Olynyk, who scored a season-high 26 points in Boston’s win at Atlanta on Friday, had an efficient 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting against the Hornets on Monday.

Assertive. Aggressive. Contract year.

It doesn’t matter how you describe what or why Olynyk is ballin’ so hard lately.

The point is he’s doing it a better job of recognizing opportunities to make plays and executing whatever role he’s being asked to play.

“Just feeling good with the second unit,” Olynyk said. “I’m just trying to be aggressive and help the starters out.”

In the past, teams have mixed up their defensive coverages on Olynyk which frequently left him being guarded by a quicker but smaller player, or a big man with limited mobility.

Often Olynyk settled for long range shots and 3’s, regardless of the defender.

But as we’ve seen the last couple of games, he has hurt teams with his scoring around the rim which has in turn opened things up for his teammates or himself.

“We need him to play like that all the time,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “When he’s aggressive, looking for his shot, shooting open shots, even getting in there getting rebounds, offensive put-backs, that only helps us as a unit. And he’s done a great job of that the past couple games. We need that from him.”

And as he gets further removed from his offseason surgery, opportunities for him to be an impactful player for Boston will only grow.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Monday’s game.

 

STARS

Isaiah Thomas

The Celtics win, and Isaiah Thomas has another offensive flurry in the fourth quarter. So what else is new? He led all scorers with 35 points which included 17 in the fourth quarter.

Kemba Walker

He’s still playing at a level that puts him in the All-Star conversation, but it’s not going to happen with the Hornets continuing to struggle. They’ve lost five in a row now despite Walker’s 24 points on Monday.

 

STUDS

Al Horford

Boston is playing more inside-out basketball of late, and that’s opening things up for both Horford and his teammates. Against the Hornets he had 22 points on 8-for-14 shooting along with six rebounds and four assists.

Kelly Olynyk

For the second straight game, Olynyk had a strong, impactful performance for the Celtics utilizing his strengths as a perimeter threat and a 7-footer who can take advantage of smaller defenders around the rim. He finished with 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting to go with nine rebounds, four assists and a steal.

Marvin Williams

He was the only other Hornet besides Kemba Walker who really impacted the game significantly. Williams had 21 points on 8-for-14 shooting which included 3-for-6 shooting from 3-point range.

Jae Crowder

The 6-foot-6 Crowder continues to have a sneaky-good season for the Celtics, particularly with his 3-point shooting which ranks among the league leaders. On Monday he had 15 points which included a trio of 3-pointers to go with seven rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot.

 

DUDS

Nicolas Batum

Avery Bradley put most of his effort and attention into defending Batum and man, did it ever pay off. Batum grabbed 10 rebounds, but wound up missing nine of his 11 shots from the field to finish with just four points.