It’s difficult to seriously impact two games while scoring only 18 combined points. It really is. But Rajon Rondo, by virtue of his disruptive defense and court vision sent from above, has done just that.
Rondo’s defensive pressure, in particular, has caused the Miami Heat fits. Things got so bad for that, in the midst of yet another prolonged Celtics run in the second half, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra turned to his assistant and said, “Any other ideas? We can’t bring the ball up against this team.” He later described Rondo’s impact to reporters. (CSNNE)
“He’s an extremely quick and as fast a player as we know,” Spoelstra said. “He’s even more of that in the playoffs. He has great physical gifts, with the quickness. He also has a lot of length. He also has enough experience now that he can be disruptive to what you’re trying to run specifically.”
The Heat, thus far, have been Rondo’d.
Not that they have a definitive plan to stop it. As Spoelstra so nicely put, nothing the Heat has done has worked. They’ve tried putting Dwyane Wade at point guard, but Spoelstra admits, “We don’t want to do it too much where it wears him out.” They’ve tried the normal point guards, Carlos Arroyo and Mario Chalmers, and Rondo sees that as taking candy from a baby. Dorell Wright, according to the Miami Herald, could be the next one given the opportunity to handle the ball. But Spoelstra knows alleviating the pressure isn’t very simple.
“Easier said than done,” Spoelstra said after Thursday’s practice. “But there are adjustments we can make. We’ve been a little predictable the first two games. But we have enough in our playbook to show more versatility. We need a package of everything and to do it under duress when they’re putting pressure on us.’”
Mario Chalmers believes there’s one way to counteract Boston’s dialed-up defensive pressure: Be aggressive.
“Definitely, especially with us being at home,” Chalmers said. “We’ve been sort of robotic. We concentrate too much on trying to work plays all the way through instead of seeing an opening and taking that opening. But you just have to keep fighting.”
Carlos Arroyo agrees that the point guards have to be more opportunistic, and to let loose and have fun.
“You want to be aggressive. You want to make them play us honest. But [the results] have been very disappointing for all of us. We came into this series with a different mind-set, a different type of rhythm. It seems we’ve gotten away from that. We have to find our consistency again, not think so much, have fun and lay it out there.”
Fact of the matter is, in two games in Boston the Heat’s offense was chewed up and spit out. 76.5 points per game. Two ten-point quarters. Brick after brick, turnover after turnover. Almost sad, isn’t it?
Not for Boston, though. The Heat’s minimal offensive output is as good an indicator as any that the C’s have refocused their energy on that side of the court. The Celtics can only hope that the series’ change in venue won’t harm their defense that has finally begun to regain shape as one of the league’s finest after four months of hibernation.
If the C’s defense is to remain impenetrable, even in the South Beach heat, Rondo will be a big reason why.