It's one game for Rondo


It's one game for Rondo

Well, Czar Stern finally ruled on the Rajon Rondo case, and in then end, merely confirmed what we assumed all along.

Tomorrow night in Atlanta, the C's will be without their starting point guard. In reality, they'll probably be without their entire starting backcourt from the beginning of the season (and the last four playoff runs), as Ray Allen continues to work towards a return but doesn't seem to have made much progress.

This leaves the Celtics with Avery Bradley, Keyon Dooling and E'Twaun Moore as the only natural guards available for tomorrow's game (again, this is assuming Ray doesn't go), with swingers Mickael Pietrus and Sasha Pavlovic available to eaten up some time at the two spot.

It's an obviously awful predicament for the C's, who had their hands full even when Rondo was active. His absence creates a huge play making void one that won't be filled by Bradley and puts more pressure on Paul Pierce to create and dictate the offense. Given Pierce's poor performance in Game 1, and his recent physical issues, is Pierce ready to carry the extra load?

The answer may determine whether the C's fly back to Boston riding high off an upset win, or crawl back in an 0-2 hole, needing a win to effectively save their season. But in the meantime, let me just say this: Thank God for Avery Bradley's emergence.

Sure, he didn't bring his "A" Game last night, and appeared affected by the atmosphere in his maiden playoff voyage. And sure, he's definitely much better as the yin to Rondo's yang, as opposed to handling the yang all on his own. But if not for his arrival as a viable NBA player, the Celtics would be lost tomorrow. In terms of depth, speed and athleticism; having another guy who can bring up the ball and run a reasonable fast break. Bradley's their only reliable option. And as far as this season goes, he really came out of no where.

With every passing day, the Celtics more thankful that he did.

Rich can be reached at Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Five quick impressions: Patriots 27, Steelers 16

Five quick impressions: Patriots 27, Steelers 16

The Patriots went into Pittsburgh and beat an under-manned Steelers team Sunday afternoon, 27-16. Here are some of our quick takeaways.

PATRIOTS 27, STEELERS 16: Curran's Best and Worst | Troy Brown: Pittsburgh didn't capitalize on Pats' mistakes

-- With all eyes on the matchup between Antonio Brown and Malcolm Butler, the third-year Patriots corner held his own. After allowing nine catches for 133 yards to Brown in their first meeting last season, Butler allowed Brown to catch five passes for 90 yards Sunday. Butler also took advantage of some of the chances taken by Landry Jones, intercepting one pass intended for Brown in the end zone in the first quarter. Butler finished the day with two pass breakups and a pick on 10 targets. The four catches he allowed to Brown were the only catches he allowed in the game. 

-- Julian Edelman looked like Julian Edelman in the win. He caught 9 of the 10 targets sent his way for 60 yards, getting open underneath while seeing one-on-one coverage for much of the contest. Edelman has been on the injury report for the last two weeks, limited with a foot injury, but he was able to get open on the intermediate routes that has made him one of Tom Brady's favorite targets over the last few years. Edelman did have one drop on third down, and he did fumble a punt return, which allows us to . . . 

-- . . . take a look at what was a rough day for Patriots special teams units. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed yet another extra point -- his second in as many weeks. He has now missed five kicks on the season, including three field goals. The Patriots kickoff unit also had a difficult day, allowing three kicks to be returned past the 25-yard line. The punt-coverage team made one costly error at the end of the first half when Brandon Bolden kicked a bouncing ball out of the back of the Steelers end zone. Instead of the Pittsburgh drive starting at the 6-yard line, where Bolden touched the football, it came out to the 20. At the end of the half, the Steelers kicked a 32-yard field goal. Bolden also dropped a third-down pass that would have gone for a first down. On another punt, it appeared as though Bolden got up slowly after trying to down the ball near the goal line. It was his first game back after suffering a knee injury in Week 4.

-- LeGarrette Blount had a big day against his former team. The 250-pound back didn't want to be a story line earlier in the week, denying interview requests, saying that he would speak after the game on Sunday. His performance at Heinz Field will certainly keep those requests coming. He ran 24 times for 127 yards and two touchdowns, beating up on the Steelers front-seven late in the game as New England protected its lead. 

-- While the Patriots offensive line provided Blount with enough room to run, it was a relatively sloppy day for Brady's protection up front. Left tackle Nate Solder turned in one drive during which he allowed a pressure and was then flagged for back-to-back holding penalties (one of which was declined). Shaq Mason also appeared to have trouble with Pittsburgh's Jarvis Jones, allowing a couple of pressures and picking up a flag for holding. Joe Thuney and David Andrews -- both of whom had good blocks on James White's score -- also picked up penalties. There will be plenty for offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia to pick at and try to improve in the coming week of practice.