The Celtics got a much-needed break over the weekend, getting some time to rest their legs (and feet, and Achilles' heels, and wrists, and groins … ) while the All-Star festivities went down in Los Angeles, but now it's back to work. The C's have two months left to make their push before the postseason gets under way, and they'll be sure to make the most of them.
The C's open up the second half in Golden State on Tuesday night. Let's explore seven thoughts on where the club stands at the break.
1. After all the trash talk and all the buildup, the Paul Pierce–Ray Allen duel in Saturday night's 3-point shootout ended in disappointment for both, with James Jones taking home the big prize. Jones poured in 20 points in the final round, eliminating both Celtics. So here's the question: Pierce beat Allen in the final round, outscoring him 18-15; Allen had the overall advantage in the two rounds combined, besting Pierce 35-30. So who gets bragging rights? This argument might never be settled.
2. The most underrated performer in Sunday night's All-Star Game? That would have to be Rajon Rondo. The Celtics' point guard didn't do anything eye-popping in his second career All-Star appearance — no flashy dunks, no crazy behind-the-back passes — but he was quietly one of the most efficient players on the floor. He played 21 minutes, tops among the East's bench guys, and he shot 3-of-5, finishing with eight assists and only two turnovers. Whatever animosity Rondo might have toward LeBron James or Chris Bosh was nonexistent on the floor. He set the guys up for buckets like the professional he is.
3. Give Doc Rivers some credit — he may have joked that he didn't plan on taking the All-Star Game seriously, but he handled his job professionally when Dwyane Wade went down with an injury in the third quarter. With 5:01 left in the third quarter and the East trailing 100-86, Wade rolled his ankle and came up limping. Even with a rival Heat player hurt, Rivers was quick to use up a timeout and get Wade off the floor. Luckily, the Miami guard will be OK — he aggravated an ankle sprain from a week earlier, but he should be fine going forward without missing any time.
4. The Celtics' biggest weakness over the first half was probably their energy level on back-to-backs. The C's have played 13 back-to-back stretches so far this season, and they're 6-7 in that second game. That's a winning percentage of .462 over those 13, versus .829 in their other 41 contests, a pretty shocking discrepancy. They're on a four-game losing streak when they've played the previous night, falling to the Bulls, Wizards, Suns and Bobcats. The good news for the C's is they only have six back-to-backs left this season. After that, it's the playoffs, with plenty of rest between every game.
5. After 13 weeks of waiting, we might finally be ready to see Delonte West take the floor on Tuesday night at Golden State. West has been recovering from his broken right wrist for a long while — he had his cast off on Jan. 3, and it's been a long road back from there. West had a setback in practice last week, keeping him from returning before the All-Star break, but odds are we'll see the C's backup guard take the court Tuesday.
6. The Celtics had nothing to do with the five-month Carmelo Anthony trade saga that ended on Monday night, but later this week, they'll get to see the aftermath up close and personal. Four Knicks — Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari and Timofey Mozgov — are headed to Denver, and on Thursday night, so are the Celtics. The C's will be one of the first teams to get a look at the new-look Nuggets. Should be interesting, to say the least.