<
>

Celtics move on without Rajon Rondo

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics took the practice floor Tuesday for the first time since news broke that All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo would miss the remainder of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee.

The initial shock of losing their top playmaker hit the C's hard, but Boston knows it must gather itself and continue with the 2012-13 campaign.

"To be honest with everybody here, I think everybody after Sunday was in a fog almost, like almost stop playing, stop bull----, kind of type of thing and just settling in," Kevin Garnett said. "I think everybody's trying to put their arms around the concept that (Rondo's) actually hurt -- hurt to the point where he can't play. And I think that's what's got everybody kind of like bewildered or in a fog, if you will. Even him. I think he came in this morning, seeing him in there and it was kind of just unreal. But, the fact is that it is real and, like I said, everyone's going to consolidate and pick up the pieces and try to carry this thing."

"I think we have to (come together as a team)," Garnett added later. "I think we have to. To pick up the responsibility of one man, yeah, I think we have to."

Paul Pierce echoed Garnett's thoughts on the Celtics coming together as a team for the second half of the season.

"It's very important. We've been feeling that way, even before Rondo got hurt," Pierce said. "We wanted to come together a little bit more, especially with the way we've been playing. But probably now even more so than ever. The chips are really stacked against us when you don't have your best player out there. But it's time to give other guys other opportunities to try to step up and elevate their game. And I know they're capable of doing it."

Pierce made it clear that Rondo can't be replaced by any one person on the team, while stressing the importance of players taking on greater responsibilities.

"You don't really replace a guy like Rondo. It's hard to replace All-Star guards," Pierce said. "So it has to come from different guys probably expanding certain people's roles. Asking some other players to do what they haven't probably been doing all year, which they're going to have the opportunity to do now. So I think we definitely have the talent to do that. I mean, we've shown it in a couple games where we've played without (Rondo). It's just about probably maintaining it now for a longer period of time than just one or two games."

Without Rondo on the floor seeing the game develop and calling the necessary plays, head coach Doc Rivers will likely simplify his club's offense. The Celtics still have a wealth of talented guards like Courtney Lee, Jason Terry, Avery Bradley and Leandro Barbosa in their rotation, though none of them are traditional point guards. Still, Boston isn't bracing for a "by committee" approach to the ballhandling duties with Rondo out. Instead, they'll try to embrace not having a true point guard.

"It's just basketball. There's no point guard," Rivers said. "It's just basketball by committee."

Greg Payne is a regular contributor to ESPNBoston.com.