The Boston Celtics are playing better without their best player, winning seven straight through Sunday since All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo partially tore his ACL. It's still hard to say whether they are better without Rondo, but here's who has benefitted the most from his absence:
5. Avery Bradley » After missing the first 30 games of the season following two shoulder surgeries, the third-year combo guard has had more time on the floor to build his confidence at both ends. His points per game (8.1 to 9.1), assists (1.0 to 2.1) and rebounds (1.5 to 3.6) have all risen in line with his minutes (24.4 to 29.8).
4. Kevin Garnett » The 36-year-old Garnett has been plus-10.7 in Rondo's absence. At the offensive end, he also has more assists (2.1 to 3.1), and he has shot 55.6 percent or better in five of seven games.
3. Jason Terry » Without Rondo, there's nothing to shackle the offensive spark Terry has made a career out of providing. He has scored in double figures in all but one the games without Rondo after doing so in just three of Boston's first 13 games in January.
2. Leandro Barbosa » The minutes (10.4 to 22.5) and assists (1.1 to 2.7) have more than doubled for Barbosa, a veteran point guard who knows how to keep the ball moving, doesn't discriminate with his passes and has been anxious to prove his worth.
1. Jeff Green » The former Georgetown star is scoring more (9.6 to 14.0) while shooting better overall (.427 to .529) and at the 3-point line (.329 to .462). His emergence gives rise to questions about how well his athleticism and playmaking will fit in Boston when Rondo comes back.
- Craig Stouffer