Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Celtics Tankometer: Welcome to Boston Chris Johnson & Vander Blue

The 14-29 Celtics have now dropped 12 of their last 13 games.  They are 0-3 since Rajon Rondo's return, despite holding a lead with less than three minutes to go on each occasion.  Against the Lakers on Friday Boston was ahead 104-96 with 3:12 left before allowing LA to finish the game on an 11-0 run.  Last night in Miami the C's led 86-84 with 3:08 remaining when the Heat closed things out with a 9-0 run.  Those are two eerily similar uninspiring finishes.

Rondo is clearly rusty, shooting just 7-27 (25.9%) in that span.  His backup, Phil Pressey, has been playing well, but he can't shoot either (23.5% on the season).  To make matters worse Boston's two other backcourt regulars, Avery Bradley (sprained ankle) and Jerryd Bayless (sprained toe), are both out with injuries.  The Celtics have filled their spots by adding a pair of D-League players, first Chris Johnson (not the Chris Johnson who had a cup of coffee here in 2011), and now a guy by the name of Vander Blue.

Considering all of this, how has the Tankometer dropped just six points from 49% to 43%?  For starters, Johnson was actually one of Boston's best players last night, making some big shots as well as getting a huge steal and offensive rebound late in the game; he's the reason they had a lead late in the 4th quarter in Miami.  Secondly, the Celtics had a late lead in the 4th quarter in Miami.  Boston is still competitive, and despite being unable to close out opponents they do appear to be trying to win, a key component of the Tankometer.  Plus, Rajon Rondo is playing.  The team could have easily held him out longer if they wanted to.

4:23 PM UPDATE: It was just announced Rondo will be rested tonight as a precaution for back to back games after his return from ACL surgery.  That would probably have knocked the meter down another point or two...

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