BOSTON — The Boston Celtics have been winning of late in unconventional ways with unconventional lineups.
And for them to have the kind of playoff run they're looking for, they'll have to do it in an unconventional fashion as well by running ... a lot.
Playoff success is often predicated on a team's ability to perform at a high level in games that tend to slow down and become more half court affairs.
But the Celtics want no part of games like that; not with the way their roster is currently constructed.
"We have to run," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "We don't have the ball-handling to play half court anymore more. I tell our guys that every night. We're just not that team anymore; we can't be."
As the Celtics get closer to the postseason, the absence of Rajon Rondo (torn right ACL injury, out for the season) becomes more apparent.
While Rondo does monopolize the ball which to some degree takes away from the C's running attack (and explains his status as one of the league's leaders year-after-year in assists), his ability to orchestrate the offense and get players where they need to be on the floor to be most effective, are critical qualities to a team's chances at postseason success.
Without him, Boston's offense lacks that late-game executor that the elite teams like Miami, San Antonio and Oklahoma City possess.
But the absence of Rondo has been one of the many hurdles the Celtics have had to leap frog this season.
And while they acknowledge his value to the squad and admit that he is missed, they are not using his absence as an excuse now or when they get to the playoffs.
"We're NBA players," C's guard Courtney Lee told CSNNE.com recently. "We're all here for a reason. Sometimes when you come to teams, you do have to sacrifice a little bit of your game. As you can see now, there's a lot of things that all of us can do that maybe we didn't do before Rondo got hurt."
Said Jason Terry: "We miss (Rondo), for sure. We're a better team with him than we are without him. But without him, we're not that bad."
In the meantime, the Celtics will try to hold things down, continue to climb the Eastern Conference and hope their style of play will do the unconventional and that is hold up in the playoffs.
"Without Rondo, you have to stay aggressive, keep the floor open, and try to attack early," Rivers said. "The later the (shot) clock gets, the harder it gets for us."