So much for Boston’s (brief and tiny) fears about Rajon Rondo. I guess he just needed to get those competitive juices flowing before regaining “Playoff Rondo” form. Last night, he begged Doc Rivers to keep him on the floor so he could lead the undermanned Celtics (playing without the Big Three, Marquis Daniels and Rasheed Wallace) to a victory. It didn’t matter to Rondo that it was only preseason basketball; his team was knocked down in the first half, trailing by thirteen points at halftime and getting embarrassed. So Rondo got up off the mat and came back throwing haymakers, finishing with 18 points, 13 assists, 9 assists and a win despite playing with such a depleted roster.
Tonight, Rondo will lead the Celtics into Hartord, CT., where they will play the Toronto Raptors at 7:30 p.m. EDT. Rasheed Wallace will likely miss the game with a “tweaked ankle”, but the Big Three should all be back from their one-day hiatus. Thankfully, Rasheed’s injury isn’t too bad; he looked great yesterday night when he got the time. He spread the floor beautifully with some long bombs, was aggressive every time he got the ball and even showed off the little youth he still has left in those 35-year old legs, rising up and dunking after a gorgeous feed from a driving Rondo.
With Rasheed out, look for Big Baby Glen Davis to earn more extended minutes. Davis has looked very good this year, seemingly becoming more efficient and taking advantage of his minutes off the bench. It seems as if his great run filling in for Kevin Garnett has given Davis a lot of confidence and he has taken that confidence into this year. I went to a preseason game last year and Davis was the worst player on the floor. He did little (if anything) productive, and even passed it directly to the 76ers on more than one occasion. The difference between Davis last preseason and Davis now is night and day. He’s ready now to play a big role, whereas he wasn’t at the beginning of last year.
The Celtics’ depth had been evident throughout the first three preseason games, but was never more obvious than last night. With five (Five!) key players out, the C’s still had enough to mount a comeback against the Nets. One of the heroes was J.R. Giddens, more or less the last man off their bench, who provided boundless energy and helped turn the tide of the game. Giddens came into the game in the first half like a man possessed, going after every loose ball and bringing a level of play he doesn’t normally show. Thirteen rebounds later, Giddens could sit at his locker after the game happy, knowing he took advantage of the opportunity afforded to him when so many players ahead of him on the depth chart ended up on the sidelines for the night.
It’s only preseason, but a great comeback still gets the juices flowing. Hell, I had the juices flowing even in a poorly-played first half that ended up with the C’s down 13 points. Four more games and 13 more days until the Quickens Loan Arena hosts the Big Three and Lebron in the season’s opening game. But for tonight the Raptors are the opponent, and the Big Three will be back to face them.