The Philadelphia 76ers have used Andrew Bynum’s injury to excuse their problems all season. Nevertheless, the Sixers aren’t the only team that has gone without a superstar for a long time this year. The Boston Celtics were thought to be finished when Rajon Rondo’s season ended, yet they proved otherwise in their 109-101 win over the Sixers on March 5.
Losing Rondo has actually made the Celtics better, although no one saw that coming after his season-ending injury on Jan. 27. Yet Boston has gone 12-4 since Rondo went down, which should at least assure it of another playoff berth -- especially since Philadelphia hasn’t posed a threat.
While the Celtics have gotten stronger over time without Rondo, the Sixers have gotten worse and worse without Bynum. Philadelphia tried to hold down the fort early on as it hovered around .500, but the longer Bynum stayed out and the less likely his return became, the more the team collapsed.
Technically, the Sixers still had a balanced attack on March 5 with Bynum gone. Seven players and all five starters scored in double figures for Philadelphia, yet Boston still had more than enough. It helps that the Celtics still have superstars in Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, although Avery Bradley was the leader on this night with 22 points.
The Celtics have found others to step in for Rondo, while Garnett and Pierce are still playing their part despite their age. They have the depth and the veteran experience to endure hard times, whereas the Sixers have none of those things.
The team that nearly upset the Celtics last postseason was broken up to make room for Bynum. As such, the Sixers are a hodgepodge of missing pieces and underachievers, without any of the intangibles that defined last year’s run.
Even with all that, last year’s Sixers didn’t have enough to beat a fully healthy Celtics squad in the postseason. Both teams have taken a step back since then, but only Boston has proven that it can withstand anything.
However, the Celtics are still only the No. 7 seed and may be doomed to face the Miami Heat in the first round if they aren’t careful. Their championship window this year has all but closed with Rondo gone, and their inevitable breakup may be at hand very soon. Nevertheless, the Sixers are living proof that things could have gone much worse.