Rajon Rondo losing his aggressiveness in the second half. Boston giving up big leads and letting the competition back in. Two pervasive memes about this Celtics team, and on Sunday night, we got both at once. Now this is what it’s like when memes colliiiiiiide! (Dope Powerman 5000 ref).
In Boston’s soul-graying 28-point second half two days ago, Rondo attempted only two shots. This came after gutting the Heat for 8 points on 7 shots in Boston’s 34-point first quarter. Foul trouble had something to do with it, but Rondo played 42 minutes of regulation. He had time to take more shots than that.
Rondo’s shyness late in games is not a sustainable trend for this team. He, not Paul Pierce, needs to be the primary offensive option for the Celtics for every minute he’s on the floor. There’s a myth out there, perpetuated by Doc Rivers, KG, and Rondo himself, that Pierce is “their scorer.” False. It’s Rondo.
The “Paul is our scorer” cliche may be hurting the Celtics as much as anything else in these games. Pierce has come off a dicey Philadelphia series to post the lowest eFG% against Miami of any of the Big Four…on the most shots taken.
Pierce: 28-76, 40.8 eFG%
KG: 33-70, 47.1 eFG%
Allen: 16-42, 48.8 eFG%
Rondo: 40-64, 64.1 eFG%
That’s a gaping gap between one and four. Rondo is somehow converting like Tyson Chandler, who doesn’t really take shots so much as drops. Meanwhile, Pierce has missed more shots in this series than Ray Allen has taken.
A miss against the Heat is more costly than just the blown points opportunity: they also lead to transition points (doi). Think of how often Wade snags long a defensive rebound, pivots and shotputs a pass straight to LeBron chugging towards the other rim 40 feet away. These are horrifying tableaus for Boston, and they come off of misses, especially missed jumpers, frequently Pierce missed jumpers.
Those FGA numbers for Pierce don’t account for Pierce’s FT attempts. He actually gets a higher usage rate than even his 76 shots would imply, because he gets about 3.5 FGA written off by fouls every game. Those are vital for getting his team in the bonus and generally burnishing his point totals, but they still don’t justify the number of attempts he’s gathering like nuts for winter.
If Rondo were taking as many shots as Pierce and somehow managed to keep up that efficiency, he’d be averaging about 29 A GAME in this series. I’m thinking three shots per game could be transferred from Pierce to Rondo, basically flip-flopping their FGA numbers and elevating Rondo to the first-option status he deserves.
(The title of this post is a pun on Hoarders).