EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 27, 2013

Trying to replace Rondo is pointless

Bradley, Terry miscast as C's point guards

Pro Basketball
Michael Muldoon

---- — BOSTON — Adam Sandler shouldn’t play Othello. Betty White shouldn’t play Shannon Elizabeth’s body double.

But those two wouldn’t be as miscast as Avery Bradley and Jason Terry as full-time NBA point guards.

Against a New York Knicks club not known for its stifling defense, the Rajon Rondo-less Celtics continue to sputter.

Last night New York hammered the C’s 90-76 to take a 3-0 lead in their best-of-7 first round series. The Knicks could finish off Boston here Sunday (1 p.m. tip-off).

Three straight games with 78 points or fewer (76, 71, 78) is mindbogglingly inept. It’s hard to believe they averaged 96.5 points in the regular season.

Not that they aren’t capable players, but Bradley (0 assists in 33 minutes) and Terry (2 assists in 35 minutes) just aren’t point guards.

Not even close. The old saying is point guards are made not born.

All the blame can’t go on the miscast duo. Let’s not forget Danny Ainge chose not to trade for or sign a natural floor general.

Jason Kidd is 40 years old. His prime was so long ago he probably can’t even remember it. Yet he had six assists and no turnovers in 26 minutes. Journeyman Raymond Felton, who isn’t playing like a journeyman in this series, had 10 assists to three turnovers.

All told, Boston had a 14-to-18 assist-to-turnover ratio to New York’s 22-11.

And New York is doing it against Bradley, who is known as a special talent on the defensive end.

When asked about putting Terry in the starting lineup for power forward Brandon Bass, Celtics coach Doc Rivers, said, “We’re 0-3, I might start you.”

Even a sportswriter probably could do better than Boston’s point guards.

Rivers knows the struggling Bradley is miscast.

“All that ballhandling Avery is doing, it’s just too much,” he said.

Of course, it’s that much more difficult when you are playing out of position and your team lacks scorers. At this point, 35-year-old Paul Pierce (17 points, 6-15 shooting) is devoid of athleticism. Inconsistent Jeff Green (21 points, 9 rebounds) is the only other pure scorer on the roster.

While Felton and Kidd effortlessly work the pick and roll and zip perfect passes to open teammates like Carmelo Anthony (26 points) and J.R. Smith (15 points in 24 minutes), playing the point just isn’t in Bradley’s or Terry’s DNA. It’s painful to watch Bradley trying to loop long no-arc passes to a well-covered teammate.

When the seasons change, New Yorkers will be able to relate. They’ll have to watch Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez miss the open man.

Bradley and Terry replacing Rajon Rondo is just too much Ryan Mallett for Tom Brady. Rondo lives for the postseason, when his triple doubles are the norm and America takes notice.

Boston, which was just 20-23 at the time, won seven straight after Rondo tore his ACL on Jan. 25. Cynics harped the Green were better off without him dominating the ball.

Talk about fool’s gold. The more ferocious playoff defense has exposed the C’s and at times ripped their hearts out.

Rivers talked about how Boston “lost its spirit” at one one point in the second quarter.

He called the turnovers “a huge factor.”

While it’s no sure thing the aging Celtics could beat the Knicks even with Rondo, it sure would have been fun finding out.

Those 17.3 points, 11.9 assists and 6.7 rebounds he averaged in 19 playoff games last spring obviously can’t be replaced.

Certainly not by Terry and Bradley.

Follow Michael Muldoon on Twitter under the screen name @MullyET.

Knicks 90. Celtics 76

Series: Knicks lead 3-0

Game 4: Sunday, 1 p.m., at Boston

Key stat: Boston 14 assists, 18 turnovers (leading to 26 points)

Rebounding machine: Kevin Garnett 17 rebounds

Slow start: Boston missed two layups on its first possession. Paul Pierce missed 6 of his first 7 shots

One dimensional: Carmelo Anthony 26 points, 1 rebound, 0 assists

Bounced: Doc Rivers seethed when talking about clueless J.R. Smith, who was tossed late for elbowing Jason Terry in the mouth

Emotional night: The Celtics honored the first responders from the Boston Marathon terrorist bombings