Celtics Keep Winning Without Rondo But Will They Do So Without Garnett? Bulls Take on Pacers

By Debbie B.

After assuming the Boston Celtics (24-23) would endure a downward spiral without top player Rajon Rondo, the team has done the opposite and is now 4-0 without him. On Sunday, they defeated the Los Angeles Clippers (34-15) 106-104.

But will they keep their streak going without Kevin Garnett?

On Monday, the East’s third place team, the Chicago Bulls (29-18) will play the Indiana Pacers (28-19).

Celtics defeat Clippers 106-104

Celtics Paul Pierce

Even with a late Clippers surge, the Celtics continue winning without Rondo and have kept their postseason hopes alive.

For the Clippers, they have played seven straight game without Chris Paul who has a bruised right knee cap, losing their last five of seven games without him.

From their four consecutive wins, the Celtics are in the eighth spot, 1½ games behind the seventh place Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern conference and 3½ games ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers as they fight for the last playoff spot in the conference.

But to win it all in June, they’re at +3000.

Celtics Paul Pierce stepped up on Sunday and with his three-pointer at 2.5 seconds remaining in the game and lifted his team to the win. He had a team-high 22 points for the day.

Teammates Jeff Green and Leandro Barbosa each scored 14 points and led the bench’s 52 game-day points.

The Celtics were playing without rookie forward Jared Sullinger; on Friday, he underwent season-ending back surgery.

For the Clippers, Eric Bledsoe and Jamal Crawford each contributed 23 points, followed by Blake Griffin’s 20 points and 11 rebounds.

Next up for the Celtics is Wednesday’s game against the Toronto Raptors. But will they be playing with or without Kevin Garnett?

On Sunday, reports came out that the Clippers were interested in trading for Garnett. Sporting News reported the story and said that trade would include  Caron Butler and Beldsoe.

The trade deadline is on Feb. 21 and one factor that needs to be considered is where Garnett wants to play; he has a no-trade clause so the decision rests with him.

By Monday, more stories came out, shooting it down by both teams.

On the Boston side Paul Flanery of SB Nation wrote that the rumors came from the Clippers and the Celtics are not interested while ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne wouldn’t shoot down the rumor but said as of now, there’s nothing going on with this story.

Bulls vs. Pacers

Bulls Luol Deng

For the Pacers, playing at home suits them well as they’ve won their last 13 games there. But they’re playing the team’s most successful road team, the Bulls (14-7 away).

Look for a defensive battle on Monday with these two teams. The Pacers’ defense has been limiting opponents to 89.8 points per game but at home, it falls to 86.9 points. The San Antonio Spurs scored in triple digits against the Pacers–the only team to do so in regulation time this season. Against their last 11 of 13 opponents, the Pacers have held them to less than 90 points.

While the Pacers find success at home, the Bulls like the road.

On Saturday, they won their seventh of nine road games and they could give the Pacers a run for their money with their strong defense as they allow 90.6 points per game, with nine consecutive opponents kept under 94.

But they’ve been hit with the injury bug as Kirk Hinrich, Carlos Booze and Joakim Noah were absent on Saturday.

Hinrich is expected to be out for a week due to a right elbow infection; Boozer has a day-to-day status with a right hamstring injury and Noah is battling plantar fasciitis and is questionable.

Scoring has come from Luol Deng with his 25 points (14 rebounds), Nate Robinson’s 20 points and Taj Gibson’s 19 points with career-high 19 rebounds in Saturday’s 93-76 win over the Atlanta Hawks.

While they play well on the road, the Pacers won’t be beat at home on Monday (-6, 175 o/u).