Juggling Chairs and Balls

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Juggling Chairs and Balls

Post by sam on Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:04 pm

This is a Boston Celtics message board. You remember the Celtics. Through the years, they've arguably been associated with team basketball more consistently than any other franchise. They've won as a team. They've lost as a team. For better or worse, almost never have their fortunes been tied mainly to one player, despite a fairly constant procession of superstars and hall-of-famers through their ranks. The Celtics’ collaborative approach to basketball is so deeply engrained that it qualifies as a tradition.

Consequently, it really bothers me when I see any one Celtic player singled out as THE source of positives OR negatives associated with the team. With the Celtics, it’s NEVER just one player. And that has never been more true than in the case of Rajon Rondo.

The current question making the rounds should not be whether the Celtics are better off with or without Rondo. The question should be whether the Celtics are better off with the type of play they’re now employing—whatever the mix of factors has brought it about. Clearly, the answer is yes. And I understand that there’s a natural inclination to play the blame game.

But there’s usually more than one factor involved in everything that happens to the Celtics. And more than one factor is affecting their new style of play. As BobH and others have noted, the defensive improvement began well before Rondo was lost for the season. I’ve been bellyaching all season long because the offense was so stagnant. Was that solely due to Rondo, or was there some reason beyond his control that made him pound the ball outside? Is Rondo responsible for motivating his teammates to move without the ball, move the ball, and space the floor well…or is that Doc’s job? Should the players new to the team have made more of an effort to get into the swing of things, or were any such attempts hampered by the complexity of the defense and the aforementioned stagnation of the offense? You can bet your life that all of those factors, and others, played a role in a season that seemed to be going nowhere until Rondo (and, shortly thereafter, Sully) left the team.

So what has been responsible for the very quick turnaround in the past four games? Is it simply that they could be better off without Rondo? That’s not the constructive way to look at it.

Have you ever played musical chairs? Every time a chair is removed, what happens? The remaining participants become more alert and anticipatory, and you can see them ready to pounce at any moment. They become increasingly highly invigorated by the adrenalin the diminishing number of chairs is fermenting in their bodies. Things become more simplified, as there are fewer chairs on which to concentrate. Out of the corners of their eyes, they watch their opponents for any advantage on which they can capitalize.

Right now, the Celtics are both the victims and the beneficiaries of a game of—let’s call it musical balls. They’re all good athletes; they know how to play the game; and they have the capacity to play team ball—Celtics ball. But now, their immediate goals (or roles) have become magnified, simplified, and clarified. And guess what has happened. The ball game has changed, and there are now just as many musical balls as players, so they can forget about concentration on the scarcity of balls and play with the abandon and freedom associated with rewarding collaboration.

Yes, it happens that the loss of Rondo was arguably the most pervasive that could ever have been inflicted on this team. It wasn't that he unilaterally did a lot of hardheaded, bad things. I believe he tried very hard (and understandably became sporadically disillusioned about the lack of success. And, as he searched for ways to be a better lead, he got into some habits that proved counterproductive; and his teammates accorded him greater deference as the team became increasingly Rondo-centric. It turned out that he was both a victim and a partial cause of circumstances.

Ironically, it is the very magnitude of Rondo's loss that has ultimately resulted in better focus, motivation, anticipation, circling of the wagons, and readiness to capitalize on opportunities. And hopefully, it has driven home to Doc the fact that this is a virtual blueprint for the manner in which the game should be played in order for a team like this to succeed—with or without Rondo. And, when Rondo returns, and depending on how the musical chairs are arranged next season, here’s hoping the lessons now being learned will continue to guide their play—with Rondo being the one who is asked to fit in rather than tacitly being accorded the independent mantle of lord of the manor.

Sam

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Re: Juggling Chairs and Balls

Post by Matty on Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:20 pm

sam,

this isnt a knock on rondo,and with all due respect, i think there is something about rondo's play that, despite the fact he's one of the best PG's in the game, hasnt worked out perfectly with Boston.

Last season when Rondo missed a few games it was during that time that Boston started to get its act together.

your correct is stating that it's not constructive to suggest that Rondo (and sully) being out has led to the offense losing its stagnecity- is that a word?

we're winning, again, without Rondo, i cant find it, but i recently saw our record the last 2 seasons without Rondo.. we own a better record without him- and since i saw it, we've won a game or two.

SOMETHING has to be said about a team who can suddenly play better at the loss of their best player- i've too much doudt that suddenly, just as your teams best guy gets it, and you only couldn've bene so much better had your star not gone down.

If this is all the result of players finely getting it- after nearly 50 games, or players finely buying into it, or guys suddenly feeling motivated, that of course goes beyond Rondo- but as leader he has to take some of the blame that its taken so long. It speaks valumes abotut the overall heart of the team- and the ability of its leaders to remain motivated themselves- and to motivate others.

sadly i'm going to miss tonights game, i got a bit of a road trip to do, so i wont see how hard the C's play against their all time arch enemy, who will also be playing without key componets- or at least without one, and another injured.

Boston has went through the reguler season with a sense of being able to 'turn it on when it matters", we saw it to a degree in the year following the title. I think we saw it again the year Perk went down in the finals. There are 4 people on this team left over from those years- Doc- Paul, KG and Rondo.. if the pattern has remained the same over and over with only 4 people always involved in the pattern each time, somewhere therine you have to beleive that at least some of the blame must fall at someone's feet from among that group.

yes Rondo is a great player, and has saved our butts many times, but he's hurt us as well.

at this point, and it doesnt feel good saying this, but i'd be ok with making a deal to bring in a Big who'll be here to finnish out the Peirce/KG era in return for allowing Rondo to go to another team.

Matty

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