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Monday, January 28, 2013

Celtics Lose Rajon Rondo For The Season (ACL) But Beat Miami 100-98 In Double Overtime

Today was definitely one of the more bizarre sporting events I've ever experienced in my life. The Celtics (21-23, 14-9 home) snapped a six-game losing streak with a much-needed 100-98 win over the Heat (28-13, 10-10 away) in double overtime this afternoon at TD Garden.

The excitement of winning their best game of the season (so far) was heavily tempered by the fact that Rajon Rondo is out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL (right knee). That fact is something that we slowly figured out at the game since he wasn't in the starting lineup then rumors started flying on Twitter that he was at the hospital. By the time he returned to the arena in overtime, most people in the crowd already knew the awful news.

It's hard to put into words (and there have been plenty written and said already) what this means to the Celtics since he is by far their most instrumental and talented player. Boston didn't have more than a sliver of a chance of capturing a title with him but without him, it's hard to picture them winning even one round in the playoffs. Yes, it's that bleak. Today's win showed what they can do against the top team in the Eastern Conference when they are inspired and working together, but how could they keep that emotion up for months?

Paul Pierce had his seventh career triple-double with 17 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists while Kevin Garnett put up 24 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks and two steals. Boston's bench outscored Miami's 39-29 thanks to Jason Terry (13 points), Jeff Green (11 points) and Leandro Barbosa (9 points)-the three guys along with Courtney Lee who will have to step up the most with Rondo out.

LeBron James had a game-high 34 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists and three steals, Dwayne Wade scored 17 points and handed out seven assists while Chris Bosh notched 16 points and 16 rebounds. Ray Allen's first return to the Garden after playing with the Celts for five seasons went well for him (21 points, 5 rebounds) and the fans got it right by mostly cheering him during a highlight video then booing him when he came in the contest.

Due to the fact that Boston was desperate for a win and that these teams absolutely hate each other, this did not feel anything like a game in late January. It seemed like a playoff game with the effort level and intensity from both squads. LeBron hit a 3-pointer with seven seconds left in regulation to tie it at 87. Terry missed a prayer of a 3 to sent it to overtime. Wade drew contact from Pierce but no foul call at the end of the first overtime before he bricked his jumper. Battier had a chance to win it at the end with a 3-pointer but it was an airball since he rushed.

The C's have to be physically exhausted since they played back-to-back double overtime games (Atlanta on Friday) and now emotionally drained as well since they found out about Rondo's injury during this marathon. They'll have to bring a veteran point guard in here (Delonte West?) since they don't have a true one behind Rondo.

The NBA Trade Deadline is a little over three weeks away (Feb. 21) so it'll be interesting to see what Danny Ainge can do. Don't expect any miracles because given their age, I don't know how many teams would really trade anything useful plus it's doubtful that he'd just giveaway KG or Pierce for nothing.

Nobody will feel bad for the C's so they have to circle the wagons and figure out how to proceed from here. I still think they possess enough talent to comfortably make the playoffs but other than that, who knows? This wasn't how this season was supposed to go for them, probably over before they even get to the All-Star break. They host the Kings (16-29, 4th in Pacific Division) on Wednesday (7:30 p.m., CSN). Boston owes Sacramento a beating since the Kings humbled them 118-96 on December 30 (during that 0-3 trip to California).

UPDATE 1/29: The Celtics recalled rookie center Fab Melo from the Red Claws.

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