Tony Massarotti: Losing Rondo is addition by subtraction

If the Celtics keep winning, expect the Rajon Rondo bashing to get worse.

In a recent column by Tony Massarotti, the talk radio blowhard used Boston’s latest win against the L.A. Clippers as a chance to take aim at Rondo.

The Celtics held on by their oversized shoelaces for a 106-104 win over the Los Angeles Clippers at the TD Garden on Sunday, Boston nearly torching a lead as big as 19 with five minutes to go in the third quarter. And yet, when all was said and done, the Celtics improved to 4-0 since losing Rondo to a season-ending knee injury, which cannot help but make one wonder about addition by subtraction.”

I’ve been a big critic of Rondo’s since the season started. He holds onto the ball too long, takes games off, isn’t the kind of defensive stopper he can be because of effort and hasn’t become the type of superstar he is capable of, given his talent.

All too often, players like Rondo are praised for making people are (sic) them better, but it certainly feels as if the opposite happened to these Celtics. Rondo made them all worse.”

All that being said, a big point in the anti-Rondo argument is being missed. This team wasn’t built to Rondo’s strengths. Rondo needs to be surrounded by shooters and big men who can run the floor looking to catch the alley-oop. He would be best served on a team like the Clippers or the Denver Nuggets.

The key phrase in the previous Mazz quote is “these Celtics.” Without actually saying it, Mazz seems to agree.

Paul Pierce looks energized, Jason Terry reborn, Jeff Green unleashed. Maybe it is all just a coincidence. Or maybe it has something to do with the absence of the petulant Rajon Rondo.”

Those three guys, Courtney Lee and Leandro Barbosa need the ball in their hands to be successful. Is it any surprise that they did not play too well as they were relegated to observers with Rondo on the floor? So the blame really falls on Danny Ainge for building a team full of ball handlers around a guy who never gives up the ball.

The team’s recent success is because they are actually playing their game, not Rondo’s. That isn’t Rondo’s fault. Whether or not the team trades Rondo depends on who will be on the roster next year. If it is made up of these same players, then yes, get rid of him or expect the same results of .500 basketball. If Ainge overhauls the roster, at this year’s trade deadline or in the offseason, then no.

As for this team, will they keep riding the team first mentality into a decent playoff run sans Rondo? No. They would have to win a good chunk of the remaining games just to get into the top half of the Eastern Conference to beat up on a worse team. So, second round is the best case scenario.

Yes, Pierce and Terry and Kevin Garnett are stepping up their play, but they’re also putting in more energy. Over the past couple of seasons, outside of injury, the biggest obstacle to the Celtics getting back to the finals is because they just fizzle out. They get tired and opposing teams take over. Look at the last two games in last year’s series against Miami if you want proof.

The longer this season goes on, it seems like this team was doomed from the start. They didn't have the players to make Rondo most effective and they don't have enough talent to beat the LeBron James' and the Derrick Rose's of the world without him.

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