In 53 minutes of back-and-forth basketball last night, the lasting image of the game (other than Luis Scola’s face, which always lingers for a while) is easily Rondo’s blown game-winning layup.
Rondo went up with his right foot and right hand, which, while not the traditional form for a layup, shouldn’t really matter for a guy who’s probably made every possible layup variation throughout his career. He also seemed to get caught in-between on his steps: too far away when he hit his left foot, but a little close when he got down to his right. Either way, that one missed layup is pretty easy to explain away as an isolated event.
But the problem of Rondo missing layups is not exactly new. It’s not old! But it’s not new.
If you watched the Nets and Knicks games, you know that Rondo missed his share of point-blank gimmes in those games, also. And his miss in the Rockets game wasn’t the only one: Rondo had two layups blocked earlier in the game by noted swatters Kyle Lowry and Chandler Parsons, but he also missed one uncontested underhand layup from about three feet out.
Over his last three games, Rondo has shot 41.7% at the rim, a steep drop from his season average (including those games) of 59.4%. In that time, his jumper from 16-23 feet (44%) has been more effective than his layup.
This is absolutely not a warning sign for a long-term issue for Rondo. I already regret the use of bold in that last paragraph. Rondo has been an all-world finisher throughout his career, and he will be again. But lately he seems to consistently be going way too hard off the glass, as he did in that Rockets flub.
After the jump, a few cherry-picked examples from the previous two games.
Those aren’t the only ones, and most of his other rim misses show the same issue: too much force, sometimes much too much. Maybe some arena worker tightened the backboards before the Nets game? Readers, please come forward with any tips on who tightened the backboards. This blog will not rest until the man responsible is fired.