When ESPN's Doris Burke broke the news of Rajon Rondo's torn ACL on live television, the life was sucked out of Celtic Nation.
At 21-23, this could very well mean the end of the Celtics' playoff hopes.
The point guard duties will now fall to four players: Avery Bradley, Jason Terry, Courtney Lee and Leandro Barbosa. This quartet contains some of the qualities that make Rondo so special—and some skills he never had: Bradley is a tenacious defender, Terry is a confident shooter, Lee can score the ball and there are few people who are quicker than Barbosa baseline to baseline.
But these qualities weren't packaged into one prototypical point guard like they were with Rondo.
These four role players will have to do the job of one supremely talented player who was voted to start in the All-Star Game.
With an increase in minutes, Terry will be good for about 10-15 points per game. The same goes for Courtney Lee. Leandro Barbosa, while having been in decline since 2010, will get more minutes and provide a nice boost coming off the bench.
None of them, however, have the ball-handling skills of Rondo. None of them have arms that are a mile long. And, most importantly, none of them are capable of rebounding the way he does from the point guard position or facilitating the way he does, dishing out over 11 assists per game.
The Celtics will miss his versatility, leadership and fire. They will struggle, even more than they already have. If they could achieve but a sub-.500 record with Rondo, how will they fare without him?
Granted, they beat the Miami Heat today, and for that they should be given credit. In fact, Boston got 35 points, seven rebounds and seven assists from those aforementioned players against the Heat. But they combined to shoot just 34 percent. If Boston is to at least secure a playoff spot, those four need to shoot much better.
But this was one game, and no one has ever won or lost a season after one game.
But that doesn't mean the rest of the season won't be as difficult as walking uphill with cinder blocks strapped to your feet and two screaming children nearby.
But then again, Boston might just be lucky enough to be playing in the East, because it's starting to look like there are just eight teams vying for a playoff spot. That could change though, depending on the Philadelphia 76ers health (mainly that of Andrew Bynum) and whether or not the Detroit Pistons or Toronto Raptors can heat up at the right moment, which is doubtful.
But the fact remains that the Celtics are in a major fight the rest of the season just to secure the final playoff spot in the lackluster Eastern Conference.
One thing's for sure, Rondo's injury is a huge blow to fantasy basketball teams everywhere, including mine.
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