Post-game Reactions

71797288NB008_Celtics_KnickFor 8:08 of Sunday’s game against the Knicks, we saw something we literally never saw during meaningful minutes last season, according to 82games: Rajon Rondo on the floor with four bench players. Before the season, I pitched the idea of a Rondo + Bench Mob Line-Up as one way to reduce the minutes burden on Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. 

In the past two seasons, the burden has fallen only to Pierce and Allen to play with four back-ups during those stretches at the beginning of the 2nd and 4th quarters, according to a list of the team’s most commonly-used line-ups on 82games. Those are high-responsibility minutes for star players, since the quality around them is lower than normal. 

So Perhaps Doc sent a message with the 4:06 stint at the start of the 2nd quarter and the 4:02 stint at the start of the 4th against the Knicks: You are ready, Rajon. 

So how did those line-ups do?

Not so well. 

The Celtics played the first 4:06 of the 2nd quarter with Rondo-Wallace-Williams-House-Daniels. The group scored 8 points in 9 possessions on 3-of-8 shooting from the floor, including three missed three-pointers (two from Sheed). The highlight: A textbook pick-and-roll on the right side between Rondo/Williams, on which Rajon found a rolling Shelden for an easy lay-up. This was perhaps the only time the Knicks did something other than duck under the screen on a screen/roll involving Rajon, and Rondo made them pay. 

Defensively, this line-up was fine—they allowed 10 points on 10 New York possessions. The Knicks shot 4-of-7 and turned the ball over twice. 

So, net points: MINUS TWO.

Doc started the 4th quarter with same line-up, except Scal swapped in for Shelden. The results were the same: Bad offense, good defense.

The line-up scored just four points on eight possessions and just 2-of-7 shooting. Sheed was 0-of-3, with one missed three-pointer and two misses from the post. Rondo drew one shooting foul and clanked both free throws. 

On the other end, the line-up game up just for points on seven possessions plus a technical free throw courtesy of Sheed’s endless yapping. 

So, net points in the 4th quarter: MINUS 1

Overall, the Rondo + Bench Mob scored just 12 points on 17 possessions and yielded 14 points on 17 possessions. Terrible offense, solid defense. Overall, they were MINUS 3 if you include the technical free throw.

Some things that stand out in this (very, very, very) small sample size:

1) Sheed has to score if this line-up is going to work. It’s interesting that five of his six attempts in the game came during this 8:08 span and just one during the remaining seven minutes he played. That suggests he and the coaching staff understand he must play a larger role when paired with lesser players. If he can’t do it, this line-up will continue to struggle offensively. In fact, Sheed’s early numbers on 82games (very, very, very early numbers) show the C’s play worse on offense but better on defense when he’s on the floor. 

2) Rondo has to get over this early free throw thing. I don’t care if he has to see a witch doctor, drink chicken blood before games or dig up some evil gypsy woman’s grave like my ex-girlfriend Alison Lohman in “Drag Me to Hell.” He has got to figure this out, if only because his ability to get to the rim as a scorer could take on greater importance in a Rondo + Bench Mob line-up. 

Either way, I applaud Doc for trying this. He is being more diligent than ever before in limiting Pierce, Allen and KG’s numbers. Example: He played both KG and Pierce heavy first-half minutes against the Magic and then sat them for the first 5:38 of the 4th quarter so their overall minute totals returned to their season norms. Last year? Doc gets caught up in the moment, goes all out for the win and plays those guys 41 minutes. 

Now is the time for experimentation.

The following two tabs change content below.

Zach Lowe

Latest posts by Zach Lowe (see all)

Share →
  • steve

    Now is the time the C’s miss Big Baby for that second unit. His scoring would come in handy for that group, especially when Sheed is shooting like he is right now. I still like the idea of Rondo with the second unit.

  • Surely the fact that this unit hadn’t shared the floor together before has to be a big part of why they were outplayed, yeah? I agree with you, experimenting is good.

  • Cptn Bubbles

    Rondo is young, & it does not appear to me that he needs as much rest as the older big 3. I think he still looks explosive in the fourth quarter which is where you would expect to see fatigue. He looks like his speed is even faster against the bench of the other team. I agree with you all. Experiment NOW. Further experimentation would be a great idea Doc! I’d especially like to see a more rested/fresher KG in the 4th quarter.

    Not sure if he is as fast at getting back on D but Shelden runs the floor extremely well on offense. Rondo could get him the pass in stride. Also, Shelden is very good with the pick & roll on offense. You see some biggies just stand there after setting the pick. Not Shelden! He rolls HARD to the basket, & I’ve seen Eddie & Quis throw beautiful bounce passes for extra super ez baskets. Why they don’t run plays which actually work over & over & over, I don’t know. The Cs are extremely bad at exposing/finding a weakness on the other team & only exploiting it once….maybe twice.

    I really love the idea of the final 2 minutes or so being Paul’s time. Let Paul bring the ball up & run the offense from the top. He, usually, makes good decisions. He handles the ball well. He can get in the lane to get an easier basket plus the foul (assuming the refs will call it–they don’t seem to give bigger guys calls unless you are LeBron). He can shoot the 3. He can draw the D & make the pass (won a game at Philly last yr. hitting Ray in the corner, won the playoff game at Orlando hitting Baby, won vs the Knicks hitting KG…). You see the trend.

    I love Rondo. He gets people ez baskets, but closing out quarters, especially the final 2 minutes or so of the 4th, I’d like to see Pablo with the ball with all those options at the ready. I’ve seen Doc absolutely ballistic 2 times this year at halftime ranting to Paul as they walked to the locker room that he wanted the ball in Paul’s hands. Paul has that I know look on his face, & they both looked miffed. They could make it happen. They should be making it happen. If subbing Rondo early (let Paul run the final 2 minutes of 1st quarter offense), & playing Rondo with the bench some gets you some ez points, do it! If holding Rajon out & putting Eddy (assuming he plays good D) in during the last 2 or so minutes of the game to spread the court with shooters for Paul works, do it!

    I don’t think Quis is the answer for point. If he dribbles slowly he looks ok, but I saw him trying to bring the ball up with speed, & it looked horrible. He ended up being out of control & losing the ball. Turn over. I don’t think his handle is great if you gotta go quick. If what I fear is true, he would not be able to lead any fast breaks. Creative Rondo subbing might be the best answer for that bench unit.

  • Pingback: The 10-man rotation, starring another Thunder Twitvid()