Jan 18, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers knows it's good - it's all good. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Celtics on Paper: Neuroplasticity

It’s called Neuroplasticity.

The phenomenon that manifests when one loses their sight, for example, the other senses become amplified or stronger to compensate.  The brain compensates for damage in effect by reorganizing and forming new connections between intact nerve cells.

Neuroplasticity allows the nerve cells in the brain to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment…

The Boston Celtics have won five consecutive games since the loss of Rajon Rondo, which could just be attributed to concerned teammates rallying around their floor leader, or maybe they’re just locked into a pattern and are habitually and subconsciously creating winning and losing streaks – or maybe it’s something more.

It is true that since their Christmas night bombing of the Nets in Brooklyn, the Celtics have alternated winning and losing streaks, starting with the 4 game losing streak on the west coast, followed up by a 6 game winning streak, which was followed by a 6 game losing streak which leads us to their current 5 game winning streak…

…and in each of these spans, there were signs that the team was evolving from one extreme to another, be it defensive breakdowns or offensive upswings, there was always a harbinger of either dominance or doom.  Except for this one.

This streak has a different feel to it.  Even if it ends tonight when the Celtics welcome the hated Los Angeles Lakers to TD Garden, the days of pronounced bi-polarism are probably a thing of the past because it’s as if the team were experiencing the miracle of Neuroplaticity – dealing for the loss of a Rondo as if they had lost one of their five senses and the remaining senses became stronger, compensating for the lost sense.

This is not to say that the team is better by Rondo’s omission.  That’s ridiculous, like saying that a person is better off by not being able to see.  Of course a person is better off with their vision intact, but since the Celtics’ vision has been taken from them…

Doc Rivers has meticulously reorganized the Celtics’ mechanisms, allowing the team to grow together to not just mask the loss of their vision, but to become stronger because of it.

Crazy?  Think about it.  How else do you explain the Celtics’ new cutting edge brand of spread offense?  How else do you explain the renewed athleticism or their ability to dictate the pace of a game at will?

A better question may be why was this not happening before Rondo shredded his knee?

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and perhaps while Doc and team president Danny Ainge were discussing possible personnel moves during their last losing streak, this spread offense and Helter Skelter defensive approach was discussed in the event someone (Garnett) was dealt and they have implimented it as “Plan B”…and the team has adjusted better than anyone expected.

Whatever it is, the Celtics sure look comfortable doing it.

They are not a big team, but they are solid with athleticism and/or veteran guile at every position.  In the past week they have taken on some of the most athletic teams in the league and matched them basket for basket, pass for pass, board for board…

…and dunk for dunk – let’s not dismiss that this team is now really fun to watch, what with Leandro Barbosa’s Jeff Hornacek-style running floaters in the lane, KG’s dead eye fall away jumper, Jeff Green’s “Mailman” Hammer Dunks and Jason Terry once again making his living downtown.

Combine that with the deft ball handling of Courtney Lee and Paul Pierce and this team seems to have the elements to compete with any team’s smaller, more athletic lineup – but how they fare against a team that can go really big remains to be seen – and the Los Angeles Lakers are a team that can go big…really big.

If the Celtics prove that they can hang with the big teams, Doc will have earned his nickname – and he will say that he knew about neuroplasticity all along…

Tags: Boston Celtics Los Angeles Lakers

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