The Celtics appeared poised to escape yet again Wednesday night. By forcing a stop with 26 seconds on the clock and trailing by just one, Rajon Rondo grabbed the loose rebound and charged up the floor with numbers in tow. The options were plentiful for the C’s point guard. Dish to a wide-open Big Baby on the wing? Find Paul Pierce trailing the play and wait to hold the ball for what would be pretty close to the final shot? Instead, Rajon Unfortunately the All-Star chose neither one of these options, and went with option three, a contested runner in the lane which missed badly and the Celtics came up empty the rest of the way and fell by three in a very winnable game. After the game, Doc was asked if he minded the shot:
“Not really. I mean, I don’t mind when Rondo shoots, ever. But you know I just think your last offensive player should always touch it on the last possession. And then if it comes back to a guy for a shot, I think that’s fine. But listen he didn’t have a bad shot; he was in the lane, it was one of his runners, but that’s not a bad shot.”
I agree in principle here with Doc. Rondo attacking in general is a very good thing, as is him being a threat to shoot around the basket. The problem I had with Rondo’s choice though was pulling up for that floater over Marc Gasol was probably the lowest percentage decision he could have made at the time. You might think that assessment sounds pretty harsh, but a look at the numbers, shows this kind of shot from the 3-9 foot range for Rondo has been a bad shot all year, as number 9 is making just 30 percent of his shots from that range on the year. Thankfully, Rondo averages only one shot a game from this range.
The disturbing thing is that percentage number has tumbled even more in recent weeks as Rondo has struggled finishing around the basket. In fact in the past 10 games, Rondo has only hit 2-of-18 attempts from that “floater” range for an anemic 11 percent success rate. Here’s Doc on the play Wednesday night, where he was expecting a pass from Rajon who was 2-of-11 shooting to that point:
“I probably should’ve called a time out on the fast break. I honestly thought (Rajon) Rondo was going to hand it off to Paul (Pierce) in transition, and once I saw that I thought, ‘I’ll take that all day.’ But he didn’t and then went for the shot. And so it’s easy to second-guess it now, you know, you should’ve called a time out. But I thought we had numbers and I thought we were going to get it to our best offensive player in transition and I’d take those odds all day.”
I’m not trying to beat up Rajon here. Other than this, and some overall cold shooting he had a tremendous night with 11 assists, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists against the Grizz. For the second straight game, he looked like himself energy-wise and without his influence all over the floor, this wouldn’t have been a winnable game for Boston in the first place. Given the situation though, it was a spot where Rondo was trying to do a bit too much, like Glen Davis did as well with his forced three-ball on the next possession after the play broke down. Rondo usually defers a lot, sometimes too much for our liking, but this was a case where he needed to have the awareness to know himself and the situation, and find the better opportunity for one of his teammates.