BOSTON — A 71-69 victory over Tom Thibodeau’s Chicago Bulls last night at the TD Garden made it eight wins in nine games for the Boston Celtics since point guard Rajon Rondo tore his ACL.
This win made it eight reasons why Rondo detractors are gaining momentum with the notion that the Celtics just might be a better team without their all-star point guard.
Thibodeau, a Salem State graduate and former men’s basketball head coach at the school, is not riding that train of thought.
“It’s nonsense,” Thibodeau said bluntly before acknowledging that the Celtics are playing differently.
“That’s what’s smart. A smart team is going to do that. Whatever players you have involved, you have to determine what the strengths and weaknesses are. You can’t overlook all that Rondo’s done; he’s a big part of all the success they’ve had. Their strengths are different — and they’re playing to their strengths.”
Thibodeau knows the situation all too well. Having been an assistant in Boston for three years, he’s very familiar with the Celtics’ core. He’s also been living his own coaching life in Chicago without his star point guard, Derrick Rose.
Rose tore his ACL in Game 1 of the Bulls’ first round series with the Philadelphia 76ers last year. Having already scored 23 points in the game, Rose injured the knee while trying to leap off his left foot. The top-seeded Bulls hung on to win that game, but lost the series in six games to the 8th-seeded Sixers.
Since Rose’s injury the Bulls have gone 31-26 overall, and will carry a 30-22 record into this weekend’s All-Star break.
“(Injuries) are part of the game, and you have to navigate around that,” Thibodeau said. “In Boston, they went through it with Kevin (Garnett) in his second year, so the only way around it is to play to your strengths ... and the good teams figure it out. For a team like the Celtics and the guys they have, they know they have to play really hard.”