An aggressive Rondo on offense is what greeted us at the start of this season as he attempted a combined 34 attempts making 18 of them against NY and Miami. He was rewarded with 23 visits to the free throw line where he converted 16 points. They did lose those 2 games but they were able to keep pace with the torrid offense of those 2 teams (albeit late in the game) and you have to admit those 2 losses were much more entertaining than they’re losses against NO and Indiana.
Right after these 2 games the most number of attempts he made in a game was 8, aside from the triple double night he had against Washington and the recent loss against Indiana where he attempted 10 and 12 respectively but still significantly lower than his first 2 games. As he loosened on offense he also went to the line less and less with the most at 7 free throw attempts in Washington and there were 2 games where he didn’t even make it to the line even once.
The confident jumpers that he took at the start of the season started to come few and far between afterwards, while his dribble penetration to the basket dwindled thus resulting to lesser chances to fish a foul to get to the free throw line.
I remember Paul Pierce saying in a report that this will be Rondo’s breakout year and I somehow believed that initially as he displayed a well rounded player that contributed on both sides of the court early in the season. Now we’re back to a Rondo that we’ve gotten used to see: a playmaker that is passive on offense.
Make no mistake about it; I worry for Rondo sometimes. In their game against NY there were times when I wonder whether he’ll still be able to get up after getting fouled so hard his body crashes down to the floor with such force it makes me grimace. But that is where he makes a living and a high percentage shot will always give you a better chance to score and maybe get fouled than settling for a jumper (unless you’re Ray Allen of course). And yes, he still has to be able to mix it up with his jumpers so that opponents wouldn’t sagged on him too much it nullifies his speed advantage to get inside the rim. And where is that tear drop he used to display whenever he attacks at the middle? Rondo is a very crafty player so there’s no reason to doubt his ability to be effective offensively. He only needs to be aggressive and stop deferring too much to the Big 3 and rather be an equal source of offensive production.
The bottom line is that for 4 years opponents of the Celtics have seen the same offense fueled by Ray Allen, KG and Paul Pierce while an endlessly rotating sets of players occupied the bench that offered no continuation or consistency on offense. By now, everyone knows what to expect from the Celtics and it’s up to Rondo to put a new dimension on those offensive sets.