The Big Four
Rajon Rondo should have been an All Star.
While officially, he wasn't on the East roster last season, Rondo was indeed All-Star worthy, and he put to rest any talks of him not being an elite NBA point guard by averaging a triple-double per game in 14 playoff games last spring.
Some can dispute that triple-double remark. To be exact, Rondo averaged 16.9 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 9.8 assists per game in a postseason run that was cut short by a healthier Orlando Magic team.
But by now, any NBA critic should know, Rondo is for real.
That fact of life will make it difficult for Celtics Director of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge to part ways with his starting point guard when he becomes a restricted free agent at the end of the 2009-10 season, which begins tonight in Cleveland.
As each game passes, Rondo's worth to this Celtics team becomes more evident. And as vital as guys like Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen are to the team's championship hopes, having Rondo run the offense has turned into a necessity.
Doc Rivers' squad won the late-season battle for second seed in the East last year, beating out Orlando by three games in the regular-season standings. But now, Rivers should realize that health is more important than home-court advantage in a playoff series.
Knowing that, veterans like Pierce, Garnett, and Allen should get more rest in the regular season, given the depth of the Celtics' bench after the offseason acquisitions of Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels.
If Rivers had to choose between a playoff game at home with a banged up team, or a playoff game on the road with full health, you would think he'd choose the latter, after witnessing last year's earlier-than-expected postseason exit while having home-court advantage in the second round against the Magic.
The addition of Wallace and Daniels gives Rivers the luxury of providing more regular-season rest to the "Big Three" - clearing the way for Rondo to play an even larger role in the Celtics offense.
Is it time to fill out those All-Star ballots yet?
Here are my 2009-10 NBA predictions (Unlike NHL, the NBA does not re-seed after the first round. Playoff brackets are set as follows):
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
(1) Cleveland Cavaliers over (8) Toronto Raptors
(5) Atlanta Hawks over (4) Miami Heat
(3) Orlando Magic over (6) Detroit Pistons
(2) Boston Celtics over (7) Philadelphia 76ers
Western Conference Quarterfinals
(1) Los Angeles Lakers over (8) Portland Trail Blazers
(4) New Orleans Hornets over (5) Phoenix Suns
(3) Denver Nuggets over (6) Utah Jazz
(2) San Antonio Spurs over (7) Dallas Mavericks
Eastern Conference Semifinals
(1) Cleveland Cavaliers over (5) Atlanta Hawks
(2) Boston Celtics over (3) Orlando Magic
Western Conference Semifinals
(1) Los Angeles Lakers over (4) New Orleans Hornets
(2) San Antonio Spurs over (3) Denver Nuggets
Eastern Conference Finals
(2) Boston Celtics over (1) Cleveland Cavaliers
Western Conference Finals
(1) Los Angeles Lakers over (2) San Antonio Spurs
The Boston Celtics over the Los Angeles Lakers in 7 Games.