“This can happen all night long if he’s able to do it. Because Calderon has a little velcro on him when he runs into a pick.” — Tommy Heinsohn
Last night, Rondo didn’t look like exactly like the All-Star point guard we know and love. Rondo blamed his conditioning, saying his wind is his only worry. As Rondo told the Boston Globe, “I’ve just got to be a little more mature on certain plays. I can’t make the plays I usually make right now.”
While we wait for Rondo to unveil his full arsenal, let’s just marvel in what his mere presence provides. The Celtics shot 54% last night, and — even more impressively — compiled 30 assists on 38 buckets. And just think what those numbers would have been like if Glen Davis could have hit an open jumper or two in the first half. While some of the offensive precision no doubt has to do with the opponent (my JV team might score 85 points against the Raptors), Rondo deserves a large share of the credit.
Just ask Paul Pierce about the Rondo effect. (Boston Globe)
“With Rondo out there it really lessens my responsibility as far as being the guy that has to run a lot of the offense and get guys involved,’’ Pierce said. “I can really concentrate on a lot of the things I do, slash to the basket, scoring, rebounding, and doing the things I’m good at. It was great having the Rondo effect out there.
“With him you really don’t have to work as hard. I think without him I have to create a lot of my offense, whereas he really sets things up easy for me because he we have a great chemistry together. He knows where I’m going to be and he knows where I like to get the ball.’’
Pierce isn’t the only Celtic who’s the recipient of Rondo’s unselfish play, of course. The whole team just runs more smoothly when Rondo’s out there. I want to say that Rondo’s like the conductor of a musical group, but, well, Shaq proved that conductors don’t mean too much. So the conductor comparison doesn’t perfectly work, which means I’ll settle for the cliche “Rondo’s the straw that stirs the drink.”
More importantly than Rondo’s play (or perhaps not more importantly — his play’s pretty damn important), he’s evolved as a leader. It’s odd, because Rondo was once looked upon as a malcontent, but he’s grown up now. He doesn’t just play alongside three co-stars, he leads them. Doc Rivers called Rondo “another coach on the floor,” and it’s easy to see his role as on-court skipper. Comcast’s broadcast last night showed a few clips of Rondo on the bench when he was injured. He was giving teammates advice, helping teammates out, and trying to help his team win even if he couldn’t suit up.
This clearly isn’t the same Rondo whose stubborn nature led to trade talks a couple summers ago. Last night, Glen Davis even gave Rondo credit for instilling confidence in his game. Davis started the night like a drunken sailor posing as a 6’9″ power forward. He ended it with 15 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists.
“No matter if I mess up a play, no matter if I fumble the ball, no matter if I take a bad shot, he’s always telling me, ‘Hey, keep your head. We need you in this game,’ ’’ Davis said. “And that means so much other than fussing and getting mad at me.’’
Rondo told the Boston Herald he’d never want to coach when his playing days are done. Which is too bad. With his leadership and knowledge of the game, I imagine Rondo would make a damn good teacher.