The Amazing Rondo
Rajon Rondo is the only thing keeping the Celtics from taking on the appearance of a dying noble family. This year Rondo has elevated himself in the organization. The Boston Celtics are now "his team" and he's earned it. Every drive to basket is vicious and looks more like a swift military infiltration than it does a basketball play. He's increased his scoring average by almost five points this year, and takes an average of two shots more with a higher shooting percentage than ever before. He sometimes finds himself as the number one scoring option, an odd position to be in for a player whose shooting form at times resembles someone shooting with kidney stones.
The Celtics now rely on him to be at his best at all times, or the entire operation will fail. It is definitely his team now, but is that necessarily a good thing?Rajon Rondo is playing at a tempo right now that would probably kill an average person. The problem is, the rest of the Boston Celtics are at a physical condition that is just barely above the mark, so things could get ugly halfway during the season. Things could also get ugly for Rondo, and that is my biggest concern at this point. At times, he starts fast breaks and has to pull back because the other four guys on the court haven't even crossed half court. Sometimes he gets a pass, runs, starts a 1 on 3, finds himself in a situation where he can't back out, and is forced to drive to the basket. The latter strategy has worked so far, but for how long?
Jackie MacMullan isn't exaggerating when she says the Celtics looked "old, slow, and sloppy" against the Mavericks. If Rondo wasn't playing, the Celtics would have looked like a team undergoing a stroke. Right now, Rondo is the sole reason for the Celtics not sounding every panic alarm they can find. Ray Allen has played well, but Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce haven't looked like the players they used to be, even the ones from last year. If the Big 4 isn't at least performing at an overall level of "average", then the Celtics truly are the Holy Roman Empire of the NBA.
If anyone thinks that Rondo can play at this high a level for the entire season, they are, to put it lightly, out of their minds. No human being as that type of physical endurance, at least to my knowledge. Lance Armstrong circa 2003 could be running the point and still collapse of high blood pressure at game 45. There is just no way he can keep this up.
It is even awkward right now. Rondo is by far the most well-equipped to being an athlete at this point in time, and looks like he is playing with physically unfit men. That obviously isn't true, but Rondo is so far ahead of the rest of the team in terms of his style of play and tempo that it just doesn't seem right. Can you imagine Rondo playing for Mike D'Antoni? He would average 20 assists a game and move back time. Instead, Rondo is trapped with an aging team more suited for a half-court offense than the transition one Rondo so obviously wants to engage in. It doesn't make sense for Rondo, clearly Boston's best player, to change his style, so the Celtics are allowing him to play his own game.
That really can only work for so long. It's somewhat worked so far, but it's difficult to play two different offenses for a long period of time, obviously. Teams will eventually figure out a way to suffocate Rondo, which will be like cutting off seven of an octopuses' eight tentacles (can they grow back? I don't know how that works). Once Rondo is removed from the picture, it will be hard for the Celtics to win games. It is also difficult to assume a player can play at a high level every night, so what happens on off nights? The nights where Rondo is suddenly akin to turnovers and clanking every damn free throw? Should we just chalk that up as an automatic loss?
To be so reliant on a player, as the Celtics are doing, is dangerous. Without much help from supporters, it is hard to imagine the Celtics being successful this season. That said, Pierce can turn it around, and Allen has played well this season. It may not be a lost cause. But if game after game happens where Rondo is the sole breadwinner, then it is definite cause for concern. If we haven't reached that point already.
"Rajon's amazing, period. You talk about big things are coming, big things are here. Rajon's keeping us alive every night, we just have to make sure we follow his lead, follow his effort, and we're going to turn this thing around. We're a group of hard-working guys; you do the hard work and then you start to see lights. That's what it is."
KG's right about one thing. Rondo is playing out of his mind. But to say "big things are coming" seems like an odd thing to say after a loss in which the non-Rondo portion of the tempo was nothing more than viscous. Rondo can play as fantastically as he wants, but that only goes so far without support. Yes, I realize this is very depressing.