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A tale of two teams: Cats and Celtics


Exactly 4 weeks ago today, it was announced that Rajon Rondo would miss the rest of the NBA season with a torn ACL. A little more than 2 weeks later… Well, we all know what happened to our own star player down in Gainesville. Prior to those major injuries though, both the Cats and the Celtics had been heading down similar paths.


Like in Lexington, expectations were high in Boston before the season kicked off. The C’s had completely revamped their bench in the offseason, adding Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Leandro Barbosa and Jared Sullinger, plus starting lineup additions in the form of a healthy Avery Bradley and Jeff Green, to a nucleus that had come within a hair of the NBA finals. It didn’t matter that one third of The Big Three was headed to Miami, or that unheralded emotional leaders like Mickael Pietrus and Keyon Dooling were no longer around. The roster was great on paper, and it was the Celtics, so expectations were high. And when a franchise has won 17 titles, the only types of high expectations involve hanging banners. Hmmm… Sound familiar?


There’s no real need to get into the preseason expectations heaped on our own young squad– the number 1 recruiting class, the top 5 ranking, ESPN All Access– We lived it, and we’re reminded of it all every time we play on national TV. But the similarities when compared to the situation in Boston do bear mentioning, in my opinion. The mystique of the Celtics locker room is such that there is an assumption that you can just plug in pieces to surround KG, Pierce, and Rondo, and Doc Rivers will make it all work. Similarly, at UK, the common opinion has been that a number 1 recruiting class + Coach Cal = a National Championship contender. The fact is, it’s not that easy– as we, and Celtics fans, learned the hard way over the course of the first half of this basketball season.


Before the Rondo injury, the Celtics were 20-23 and had lost 6 in a row. Rondo was playing like an all-star, but the rest of the roster looked relatively human. Even KG and Pierce, while putting up decent numbers, seemed to be a shell of their former selves. They just weren’t a good basketball team, and the preseason expectations seemed to haunt them. Then Rondo went down. At first, most assumed the injury would all but end Boston’s season. After all, Rondo had not only emerged as the team’s star, but he had been given the reigns to the franchise on and off the court. He was the Boston Celtics. But, somewhat amazingly, the opposite happened. Internally, the rest of the Celtics circled the wagons. The message was made to clear to underachieving players like Green, Terry, and Lee that their play to date was unacceptable. Brandon Bass was told to earn his paycheck. KG and Pierce acknowledged that Rondo could cover for their underwhelming play no longer. Immediately following the Rondo injury, the C’s won 7 in a row, and are now 9-3 overall A.R. (After Rondo). They’re not a better team without Rondo in the lineup, and to say so would be silly. But they are a different team without him. And, given their play of late, one could argue that that team is better equipped to make a playoff run this year.


So, what does this say about our Cats? Before last night, this post probably would have ended with my saying that they lacked the veteran leadership of the Celtics to turn it around like Boston has. But now? I’m not so sure. Given the rejuvenated play of Archie, Alex, and Harrow, we might be witnessing a Celtics-like reemergence. It’s clear that the wagons have been circled. Whether it was the humiliating defeat in Knoxville, the dodgeball game, or just the metaphorical lightbulb going off, I’m not sure. But last night was special, and the team that we watched last night was just that– a team, maybe for the first time this year. Are we better without Nerlens in the lineup? Absolutely not. But maybe, MAYBE, his injury will be a wakeup call for our underperforming players. And maybe that wakeup call will be the catalyst to a late season push and tournament run by the Cats. One can hope, right?





Article written by Andrew McCarthy

5 Comments for A tale of two teams: Cats and Celtics

  1. Jus Sayin
    4:09 pm February 24, 2013 Permalink

    Addition by subtraction. It’s happened before. I don’t think UK situation is the game though. I think we were good before and now we are okay.

  2. BBN Fan
    4:51 pm February 24, 2013 Permalink

    UKHOOPS down 3, 3:21 to go, you wouldn’t know it looking here.

  3. mudcreekmark
    4:55 pm February 24, 2013 Permalink

    2) You talkin bout lady cats? Wonder why they aren’t giving any reports? Love those girls.

  4. teacher of math
    5:13 pm February 24, 2013 Permalink

    Solid post. I agree with the similarities. Unfortunately I think another similarity is without Rondo I see no way the Celtics can make it any further than the conference finals (best case scenario), and sadly without Noel I see us making it no further than the sweet sixteen or elite eight (best case scenario). Many times when teams face adversity like the Celtics and the Cats the teams step it up a notch, but to make a run at a championship you’ve gotta have your best player, i.e. Rondo or Noel.

    Again well thought out post.

  5. Laugh Factory
    11:14 pm February 24, 2013 Permalink

    Funniest stuff ive read today, good job Andrew keep the laughs coming. Dont know how you guys write this stuff while chuckling so hard, kudos. Comparing Nerlens to Rondo then follow it up with “He was the Celtics”, but they are not a better team just better equipped, comedy gold right here.