Critical Lessons From The Lakers

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It's true, of course, that the Cs were undermanned in their 2nd meeting with the Lakers. But it was still an excellent opportunity to see where they need to improve.

The main problem was on offense, where Rondo's deficiencies glared in the harsh spotlight of the Lakers' defense. At one point during LA's run in the 2nd quarter, RR had taken several WIDE OPEN, easy jumpers, and missed them all. In each such possession, Cs were one and done. All while Kobe was running around, sagging off RR and wreaking havoc with his D.

It's likely Doc saw this and reacted by calling out the changes we saw later in the 2nd half.... when, especially in Q4, the Cs basically gave up on having Rondo handle the ball and initiating plays. Unfortunately, that didn't work out very well either, as everybody (just about) had a bad night shooting -- not so surprising when Rondo's not feeding them the ball at the perfect times and spots for the easy ones.

This team sings when Rondo's distributing like only he can. They can still get it done without the kid at the helm... but usually not as well. Sometimes, like in this game, not at all.

This, then, is the Celtics' Achilles heel -- Rondo's jumper. The funny thing is, RR reportedly makes those shots like candy in practice. So the problem is clearly between his ears. Pressure getting to him, confidence gone AWOL.
I believe this will HAVE to change for the Cs to be truly ready to win the ring this year.

Which is probably why Doc told Rondo to take those 1st half shots in the first place. Doc's TRYING to get Rondo over the hump on this, his last major deficiency.

And that process needs to continue until it succeeds. Because if he can master his nerves on that short in-game jumper, the Lakers' (and other teams') strategy of sagging off him would collapse in a heap, mighty quick. (Imagine a FG% of around 80%, as Rondo hits one easy, wide open jumper after another!)

Of course, they might lose a few more games while Rondo's trying to get there. But that's a price the Cs have to pay. Having Rondo shoot hoops in practice is just not enough.

In a way, then, that 2nd Lakers game was highly instructive for this team. It revealed -- not for the first time, but quite dramatically -- a key factor that the Cs must work on in these remaining months, before the playoffs.

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