It's Rondo's World
As anyone who’s watched the last three Celtics-Heat games could tell you, Rajon Rondo is playing basketball on a different planet right now. And in true Rondo fashion, he’s doing it in the most unpredictable ways. During his 44 point, 10 assist, 8 rebound clinic in Game 2 last week, he went 16-24 from the field, hoisting up 12 shots from 16 feet or deeper and making an astounding 10 of them, according to Hoopdata.com. But in Friday night’s game 3 win, he for the most part holstered his jumper, taking just 6 shots longer than 10 feet and knocking down 2. Instead, he attacked the basket, going 5 of 8 at the rim and 2-2 on shots from 3-9 feet en route to 21 points. In last night’s 93-91 overtime win, it was even more dramatic: Rondo scored 15 points without taking a single jump shot, going 7-12 on the short stuff instead. (Side note: as you can tell, I’m fairly in love with the box scores at HoopData, which tracks all these stats.)
Leave it Rondo to have the best shooting night of his life and follow it up by not shooting. Obviously, this has a lot to do with the way the Heat are playing him: those jumpshots that were wide open in Game 2 haven’t been nearly so much in Games 3 and 4. But still, man, Rondo.
And that’s not to say he wasn’t in control of last night’s game, because he very much was. I’ve always felt that the most important stat for Rondo is the number of assists he gets leading to baskets at the hoop. In other words, passes leading to easy layups and dunks, like these:
Last night, he had a fairly absurd 7 of those. For context, per Hoopdata, the league average per game this season for assists at the rim was 0.8. Rondo’s season average was third in the league at 4.1, just behind Steve Nash and Andre Miller. The next guy after him, Chris Paul, was at 3.5. In Game 1 of the Heat series, Rondo had just 1 assist leading to an easy 2 at the rim, but after that, look out: in his otherworldly Game 2, he had 5, and in Game 3, it was 6. And then of course last night there were 7 — nearly double his season average and over seven times the league average. Yowzer.
The point here is simply this: Rondo is in complete control right now. And as this roller-coaster ride of a Celtics season steams to a finish, the best part is that you never know what he’s going to do next.