Offensive Efficiency: 102.2 points/100 possessions (a return to mediocrity)
Defensive Efficiency: 93.5 points/100 possessions (a return to excellence)
Pace: 92 (slow)
RONDO, A RAVE
Last night was Rajon Rondo’s best game of the season. He imposed his will on the offensive end of the court despite a focused (if still somewhat erratic) defensive effort from the Wizards. His creativity, aggression and multifaceted skills were all on full display. The Celtics can and likely will beat any team in the league if they get this kind of game from Rondo on a regular basis.
Is that praise too effusive? Possibly, but I’ve been very critical of Rondo’s weaknesses and uneven effort in the past. I supported a deal for Chris Paul, even if it cost Boston their sole young star. Rondo’s often guilty of picking his spots too much and deferring to his teammates, attacking the rim in the first quarter but not the fourth, proclaiming himself the best point guard in the league and then falling far shy of living up to that lofty self-image.
Last night, he was relentless in attacking the Washington defense. Here’s what I loved about his approach. On almost every possession, he’d push hard up-court, if not on a fast break, then on a secondary break, looking for a hole in the assembling Wizards’ defense he could exploit. He tested the strength of every perceived seam. If it proved too strong for him to make it to the hoop, he’d pull back and invent something else. He forced the Wizards to leave other Celtics alone for easy baskets because he simply wasn’t going to dance around the mid-range looking for the perfect opening.
That may be the difference between a player who gets his points in the flow of the offense (say, Ray Allen) and one who dictates the flow. The latter is more valuable. Paul Pierce used to set the offensive tenor regularly in his younger days. So did Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and many other all-time greats. That’s what’s so frustrating about Rondo. He has similar abilities (if not the same ceiling) if he’s just willing to allow himself no quarter and full license. Last night, he did.
Greg Stiemsma is averaging 3.3 blocks per game this season in only 16.3 minutes per game. Kendrick Perkins has the highest blocks per game average of any Celtic during the new big three era with 1.97 in 2008-09.
3. This is early in the first quarter and the Wizards are already keyed in on Rondo. Watch how three defenders lock in on Rondo, leaving KG wide open for the finish.
2. Rondo and John Wall spent the evening watching the other guy go around them. Rondo plays at a more sneaky-fast pace in the half-court while Wall is more inclined to set up his man in isolation and blow by him but they can both gun it when they get into full court. Here, Wall tries to slow up Rondo, who by this time, had already proven himself a major pest for the Wiz.
1. Here, Rondo recognizes a mismatch against Andray Blatche, sets him up and lays the ball in. This is the kind of aggression Boston needs from Rondo every game.
0. Normally, we’d have something less than scintillating in this slot, but this is really the play of the night, if you like smart, team-oriented basketball. Watch and revel.
“I am so SICK of people in this league not respecting Rondo. You show me someone else who can do the kinds of things Rondo can do on the court. ANYONE! Where is he? I’ll tell you where he is. HE DOESN’T EXIST! That’s where he is. If you want a better point guard, you wander over to the land of make believe. I’m sticking with Rondo.”
“THERE IS NO WAY THAT IS A FOUL!”