By A. Sherrod Blakely
BOSTON — Seeing the offense run through Paul Pierce is common when you watch the Celtics play.
But with Rajon Rondo (torn right ACL) out for the season, there's a very good chance of seeing even more of that tonight against the Sacramento Kings.
It certainly was that way in Boston's double overtime win against Miami on Sunday.
Pierce had his first triple-double of the season with 17 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists.
It was Pierce's 22-foot jumper with 30.4 seconds to play and a free throw with 5.6 seconds remaining in the second overtime that gave the Celtics the win which snapped a season-long six-game losing streak.
"Early on, we'll do that (look to Pierce) because our guys will naturally migrate and throw him the ball," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers.
But as far as running too much offense through Pierce, Rivers doesn't see that as being an issue he has to worry about.
"I don't think Miami worries about running too much offense through LeBron (James)," Rivers said. "I don't think the Lakers worry about running too much offense through Kobe (Bryant) or just go down the list. So why should we worry about running too much offense through Paul? You know what I mean? I don't think that's a problem at all."
Still, there will be times when the C's will have to look to generate scoring from players besides Pierce.
"We all have to step our games up now," C's guard Jason Terry told CSNNE.com. "A big part of our team won't be out there, and we all have to pick up the slack. A big theme for us even before Rondo got hurt, was 'stay together.' Now that means even more to us."
Indeed, it will take a collective effort for the Celtics to put together a solid finish to the second half of the season without Rondo, the league's leader in assists.
That journey continues tonight against a Sacramento Kings team that defeated the C's earlier this season, 118-96.
Here are some of the keys to tonight's game.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Limiting the backcourt scoring of the Kings will be a factor. Despite losing four of their last five games, Sacramento's perimeter players have been putting up big numbers. In the last five games, they have averaged 46.2 points per game which ranks eighth in the NBA during that span according to hoopsstats.com.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Jared Sullinger vs DeMarcus Cousins. Two of the league's up-and-coming young bigs, both have the ability to impact the game in multiple ways. Sullinger did a solid job as a role player in Boston's double overtime win against Miami. Cousins' first career triple-double came against the C's earlier this season.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Courtney Lee gets the start in the backcourt, and will look to continue his solid play with Rondo out. In six games without Rondo this season, Lee averages 10.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists -- all better than his season averages.
STAT TO TRACK: Even without Rondo, the Celtics need to make getting out in transition a priority. Sacramento has struggled in several phases of the game all season, including their transition defense which is giving up 15.6 points per game which ranks 29th (out of 30 teams) in the NBA this season. That number has been slightly higher (16.4) in their last five games.
Tags: Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics, doc rivers, Rajon Rondo