Are Rajon Rondo and the Celtics Now the Team to Beat in the East?

April 25, 2011 – 11:00 am by Chris Fedor

The Celtics went into the playoffs with a lot of questions to answer in their defense of an Eastern Conference Championship. They had a number of players battling injuries, they were trying to adjust to life without Kendrick Perkins, they were trying to incorporate new players into the rotation, and they finished just 5-5 in their final ten games. After getting all they could handle in the first two playoff games against New York, The Celtics pounded New York in the final two games of the series to complete the sweep. It doesn’t mean those questions have been answered.

Don’t get me wrong, Ray Allen was awesome, Kevin Garnett played well when Amar’e Stoudemire was gimpy, and Rajon Rondo went off when Chauncey Billups was watching in a suit on the sidelines. The Celtics got the sweep and therefore will be watching some of these other teams that are getting tested right now, but sweeping a depleted New York team isn’t really that impressive. The Knicks were playing without Chauncey Billups in the final three games of the series and Amar’e Stoudemire was clearly nowhere near 100 percent. Maybe the Celtics have found themselves, maybe they found that defensive foundation that they had been looking for ever since Kendrick Perkins got traded, and maybe they needed to get back to the postseason to finally show their championship mettle. Maybe. Or maybe they just beat up on a lesser team that lost two of their three best players following the game one tester in Boston. Until they prove it against a better team, I will go with the latter.

Rajon Rondo joined WEEI in Boston with Grande and Maxwell to talk about giving New York credit for coming back in the second half of game four, How important it was to get a sweep and get some rest prior to the next round, whether or not he heard Mike D’Antoni’s comments about him not being as good as people are saying he is, and whether or not he thought they would have to go through Miami to repeat as Eastern Conference champs.

On holding off New York’s furious rally:

“Definitely. I think the biggest part was Anthony Carter. He came in and played big, pressured me, made big shots, and he was their energy guy during their run, but we found a way to close the game out.”

How important it was to end the series early and start getting rest:

“It’s very important. This was a tough series. Obviously we won 4-0, but the first two games could’ve gone either way. Just give credit to ourselves, it’s going to be great to get a couple of days off and get a lot of rest for all our guys, the older guys and the younger guys as well. Come back ready to play whenever we have to play and be ready to go against Miami or Philly.”

Whether or not he heard Mike D’Antoni’s comments that he made about him not being as good if he didn’t play with the Big Three:

“No. (Host you wouldn’t tell us anyway.) He made a comment about the assists or something else? (Host: He said before the game that if you were playing in Minnesota or something it would be different. Had you heard it?) No I haven’t heard it, but it is what it is”

What he says to criticism like that:

“Yeah I didn’t hear it. Everyone has an opinion. I’m here so it really doesn’t matter. Regardless of what people say I’m a champion already so it is what it is.”

Whether or not he felt they would have to go through Miami:

“We might have to beat Miami. We might have to beat Chicago as well so I wouldn’t say it goes through Miami or any other teams. (Host: But didn’t you feel like you would have to get through them?) You could say that. Philly might come back I don’t know. We will be watching the next game. (Host: You’re gonna be home resting for the next three days?) Yeah that’s perfect for us. I need the rest and our team needs it as well. I will be ready to go whenever we have to go.”

Listen to Rajon Rondo on WEEI in Boston here

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