For a short while on Saturday night, Lakers fans were faced with disaster. Kobe Bryant fell to the floor in agony — his injured ankle, perhaps, would end his season. Unfortunately for Celtics fans, Black Mamba recovered quickly, even returning to the game to see his Lakers beat the Mavericks in Dallas, but the incident raises the question: What injury would be the biggest disaster for the Celtics?
The most obvious answer is probably Kevin Garnett, because there’s historical data to draw from. When Garnett has been healthy, the Celtics have made it to the NBA Finals. The one season that saw him injured, on the other hand, resulted in an early playoff exit at the hands of the Orlando Magic. Especially with Kendrick Perkins no longer with the team, KG sets the tone for the C’s in interior defense. He’s a ruthlessly active defender, and at the offensive end, there may be no bigger matchup problem that the C’s can offer — except for maybe one guy.
Rajon Rondo’s length and speed make him nearly impossible for opposing point guards to stay close to, and given that, he’s matured into a strong finisher in the lane, as well as one of the league’s best distributors. Then, there’s his defensive contribution. Rondo may be the best defensive point guard in the league, and he’s so long that he often matches up with shooting guards or even forwards. With all due respect to Carlos Arroyo and Avery Bradley, Rondo is absolutely irreplaceable for the Celtics.
When crunch time comes, however, it’s usually not KG or Rondo who gets the ball. It’s Paul Pierce or Ray Allen. The pair of veterans are among the league’s most cold-blooded clutch players, and use their huge quantities of experience to do all the little things that help the team win. With Allen, you have perhaps the greatest shooter of all time, a title that would make him truly irreplaceable on any roster — not just Boston’s. Pierce, of course, is truly the heart of the team, and without their heart, what would the Celtics be?
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