Celtics

How much can we expect from Rondo?

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How much can we expect from Rondo?

Coming off one of the greatest performances in Celtics playoff history man, it still feels weird to write that, but there's no denying it's true Rajon Rondo remains the key to any and all Green success.

But the question is: How much can you really expect from him tonight at the Garden? Assuming that another 44-point performance isn't in the cards, how much production do the Celtics actually need to avoid an 0-3 death sentence?

The answer is: There is no answer.

With a player like Rondo, you can't say: "He needs to score 40 or 30 or even 20 points for the Celtics to win. You can't say he needs 15 assists, 10 rebounds or that he needs to play every second. That's because despite the gaudy stats he put up on Wednesday, Rondo isn't about numbers. He may become obsessed with them from time to time, but aside from a random showcase like we saw in Game 2 numbers are never a true measure of the effect he has on a game. It's one of the major reasons we've often seen him stumble into triple-doubles over the course of his career. How he can play what sometimes feels like an awful game but end up with a stat line that's beyond reality for three quarters of the guy's in this league. Because he's freak, but also, again, because he's not about numbers.

He's about the feel of the game, the tempo; he's about energy, intensity and intangibles. That's Rondo. And that's who he has to be tonight. If the numbers come, they come. But it will not make or break the Celtics fate. All he has to worry about is pushing the ball, keeping every one involved and taking what the defense gives him. Which will be very familiar.

Listen, the Heat aren't going to do anything different than they did in Game 2. First of all, because there's no way they're counting on Rondo to hit 10 of 12 jump shots andor 10 of 12 foul shots in consecutive games. Second, because despite all of Rondo success, the Heat still won. Why go crazy changing things? You're really going to alter your game plan because a guy who is a notoriously bad jump shooter had one good shooting night? No way. You do that, and you're just opening yourself up to get beat by Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce, who themselves have a much more explosive and terrifying track record that Rondo does.

In the end, the Heat will leave the door open for Rondo to have another enormous game, but he doesn't need to have one. There's no specific numerical requirement for what they need, except that they need him to be him: Focused. Resilient. Relentless. Rondo.

That will be enough.

And then it's on to Game 4.

Rich can be reached atrlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter athttp:twitter.comrich_levine

Moving to power forward 'presents a different challenge' for Horford

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Moving to power forward 'presents a different challenge' for Horford

PHILADELPHIA – For the third time in as many games, the Boston Celtics will field a different lineup.

It will have a domino effect on Boston’s usual starters, but no one more than Al Horford who will slide over to power forward with Aron Baynes inserted into the starting lineup where he’ll be charged with trying to defend Sixers 7-footer Joel Embiid.

Meanwhile, Horford will be assigned to defend Robert Covington who is one of Philadelphia’s better perimeter scorers.

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“I feel like one of my strengths is being able to play multiple positions,” Horford told NBC Sports Boston. “It presents a different challenge for me, which is making sure I do a good job of covering him out on the perimeter, staying between him and the basket.”

In Philadelphia’s 120-115 season-opening loss to Washington, Covington led all Sixers with 29 points which included him going 7-for-11 from 3-point range in addition to grabbing seven rebounds.

While Covington will be Horford’s first defensive assignment, he knows he will also be called upon at times to defend Embiid who ranks among the best centers in the NBA despite having played just 32 games over the course of three NBA seasons.

In the loss to the Wizards, Embiid had a double-double of 18 points and 13 rebounds.

Horford’s defense will be critical for Boston (0-2) to get its first win of the season, but the Celtics will also need him to take advantage of scoring opportunities as well.

“We have some guys down, but that creates opportunities for other guys to step up and contribute,” Horford said. “It’s going to all of us, the veterans, the young players, all of us to get that first win.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens agreed.

“I think that’s how we have to look at it,” Stevens said. “We’re going to have to make a few tweaks on how we do things, obviously. Hey, it’s gonna be something that we’re going to have to do really, really well on the fly.”

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