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PROFESSIONAL SPORTS: Frustration surrounding Rondo's ejectionrepresentative of Celtics' problems

By Ben Freudman
On December 3, 2012

Though there are certain potentially volatile instances within every basketball game, some incidents can spark an inferno.

During the Boston Celtics' game against the Brooklyn Nets last Wednesday night, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo shoved Nets forward Kris Humphries after Humphries fouled Celtics forward Kevin Garnett. And though the incident seemed that it would be isolated because it was not that hard of a foul, a brawl ensued between the two teams.

As a result of the ensuing fight, various ejections were handed out, including ones to Nets forward Gerald Wallace, Humphries and Rondo. Since the event happened in the second quarter, Rondo's historic 10-game assists streak came to a close; he only passed for three assists prior to the ejection. Indeed, it was an unfortunate way for Rondo's historic achievement to be curtailed.

Although the big story of the fight was that Rondo's streak ended, light should be shed on something that was overlooked in the brawl: The Celtics are in trouble and need to get back to the basics.

While their offense is decent, Boston's defense has allowed 97.9 points per game. In games in which they score 100 points or more, the Celtics are 5-4. This is a clear indication that the team's defense, which was stellar back when it won the championship in 2007-2008, needs to help its offense. The imbalance between the effectiveness on offense and defense is proving problematic for the Celtics.

One way to solve this problem would be by rebounding. Boston does not do a lot of that. In fact, they do less of it than any other team in the NBA. This deficiency is a direct result of the Kendrick Perkins trade to Oklahoma City. Since Garnett does not record as many rebounds as he did earlier in his career, making a move for a big time center would help in the rebounds department.

This team is small in terms of height, but it is deep. It has one of the best starting fives in the league-point guard Rondo, forward Garnett, forward/guard Paul Pierce, forward Brandon Bass and guard Jason Terry.

After that, they have former sixth man of the year, guard Leandro Barbosa, injured guard Avery Bradley and another former sixth man of the year-Terry.

The Celtics should be playing Barbosa more. The two times that he has played 20 minutes or more, he has scored 17 and 16 points. Bradley will deepen the team even more when he returns, but that might not be for another two weeks. Meanwhile, Terry has done everything asked of him. The 35-year-old is averaging 11.7 points per game in 28.4 minutes.

Boston's bench actually gets even deeper. It has forward Jeff Green, guard Courtney Lee and forward Chris Wilcox. However, these guys have been underachieving.
Green's shooting is not what it used to be, like when he was averaging 15.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per game for Oklahoma City. Lee is also not playing up to his potential. He averaged more than 10 points per game twice in his career and is having his worst season in terms of statistics. Wilcox is also not what he used to be, and Boston could definitely use a guy who is what Wilcox was during his stint with the Seattle Sonics during the 2005-08 season, when he was averaging 14.1 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.

The Celtics are barely floating at 9-8, but they have not played well against the most-dominant teams in the league. They do have one win against Oklahoma City, but are 0-2 against the Nets, and they lost by 12 against the San Antonio Spurs. If this team wants to make some noise in the playoffs, it needs to do something.

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