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GRAY LINE: RONDO THE SOURCE OF C’S HOPE

Posted in: Blogs, NBA, Niall Gray by . October 30, 2012 / 07:10

A ring ceremony, raising of a championship banner and the first game for Ray Allen as a Miami Heat player against his former team, one of Miami’s biggest rivals in the Eastern Conference. If Carlsberg did opening nights in the NBA…

I don’t know how the fixtures are compiled but seeing as they came out a few weeks after Ray Allen spurned the Boston Celtics for Miami, it has to be purely for television ratings. On a night when Miami are celebrating their title, they go up against the team they beat for a place in the finals.

Of course a win over Boston would make their opening night perfect but the banner and ring ceremonies will be overshadowed because of the Ray Allen saga as there’s many questions that need to be answered.

For instance; will Allen start for Miami and if so, how will the Celtics acknowledge him at the tip-off?

If he does start for Miami, you just know the cameras will be on Allen and Rajon Rondo to see what acknowledgement they give each other, if any at all.

After all, the biggest reason Ray Allen left the Celtics was due to the breakdown of trust he had with Rondo, who is widely known not to be the easiest of people to get along with.

It was mentioned often, but it was only when Allen upped and left for South Beach that it finally get spoken about on a more regular basis.

I’ll miss Ray Ray as a Celtic, simply because I like players who shoot the ball well and in Milwaukee, Seattle and then Boston, he showed why he is a lock for the Hall of Fame with his deadly long-range shooting.

It was kind of obvious he’d leave the Celtics this summer although most Celtics fans hoped he might do a u-turn and stay in Beantown.

The fact he left didn’t upset fans, it was his choice of destination. I guarantee that if Ray Allen had ended up say, a Los Angeles Clipper (one of the teams chasing him during the summer), then on his return to the Garden the jumbotron would be in full tribute mode at some point during the game and the fans would give Allen a standing ovation.

But he’ll be returning to Boston with Miami (note Sunday 27 January in your diaries) and I’m not sure how Beantown will react when it happens.

But that’s three months away, Tuesday night is when the three-point king will face his old team for the first time.

If for some reason he starts off the bench, will that be a vindication for the Celtics that their decision to take away Allen’s starting spot last season (another reason he wanted out) was the right one?

It was obvious he wasn’t happy coming into the game off the bench but I believe the decision to start Avery Bradley was the right one. Until Bradley was shut down for the season because of injuries, he and Rondo were becoming a formidable pair in the backcourt.

Of course, for many Celtics fans there’s the fear factor. With four regular season games and a potential meeting in the play-offs, there’s plenty of opportunities where Allen could stick it to the Celtics. After all, he’s been doing it other teams for many years, so why not Boston?

Not only will the TV coverage be obsessed with the Allen-Rondo subplot,  you can almost guarantee they will be frequently bringing up Ray Allen’s stats throughout the game.

If he does poorly, then they’ll say he choked and if he does well and Miami wins, then it will all be about how Ray Allen got one over his former team.

Most will want to wish Allen well in Miami but because they Heat are currently Boston’s biggest rivals, and the team who knocked the Celtics out of the play-offs two years running, many will find it really difficult to do so.

Then there’s Rajon Rondo, who’s probably in the latter group. There’s no doubt he’s one of the most-skilled point guards of recent years and when it comes to creativity, no-one can match him with those ball fakes and his pinpoint passing.

But at the same time, he can anger even the most laid-back of Celtics fans with some of his petulant antics when things don’t go his way. If Paul Pierce hadn’t come to the rescue in the play-offs last season, the Atlanta series could have turned out so differently.

Despite that, you ask Celtics fans who they would want on the roster out of Allen and Rondo, and I bet the majority would chose Rondo.

The PG is the future of this team.

Yes, Allen has gone, along with a bunch of role players, but in their place are Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Leandro Barbosa and exciting rookie talent, Jared Sullinger. Then you also have Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox back after heart issues, and Avery Bradley due back during the season.

Having no bench killed Boston at times last season and with better support in place, Celtics coach Doc Rivers will be able to finally give veterans Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, enough rest during games.

By all means make Miami the favourites. They are the champions, they took Ray Allen from Boston and put another formidable squad together. They deserve the tag and that’s despite the blockbuster moves the Los Angeles Lakers have made.

But whatever you do, don’t assume the Celtics are on the decline. Not only have the Celtics built a strong squad around Garnett and Pierce, they are putting into the place the pieces that will keep the Celtics challenging once those two finally bow out.

Miami might yet feel the heat.

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