Jan 23, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo (9) takes the ball down the court in the first quarter against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
The Boston Celtics have undergone a transformation without Rajon Rondo on the team. Sh0t creation is now facilitated through ball movement and isn’t initiated by just one single player. Not that Rajon Rondo was a ball hog–he’s probably the farthest from such–but the Celtics had become too dependent on him to hit guys in perfect position to make shots.
This isn’t the same Boston Celtics team from last season or even the year before that. Rondo doesn’t have to be included in the process of scoring points for everyone but Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Instead, if guys are put in certain situations they can create for themselves.
Lets reflect upon why Ray Allen left the Boston Celtics. Allen was not only not fond of Rondo’s role in the offense, but he was also fed up with not having any freedom to do things off of the ball. Instead of being able to put it on the floor and have options, Ray was to remain conservative and run off screen after screen after screen. While it was effective, it was also predictable. It led to the Celtics offense being a bottom 10 offense instead of top 10 like it was when Boston won the NBA title in 2008.
In that offense, Paul Pierce was the maestro and Rajon Rondo was only the apprentice. Doc Rivers gave Garnett and Allen as much freedom as Pierce had and Rondo was restricted to a role that was giving post entry passes, hitting guys off of curls, and slashing to the rim for easy buckets–not to mention sharing time with Eddie House and Tony Allen at times. Now, we’re seeing much of what we saw in 2008. Players are given freedom to explore their options instead of trying to put the ball in the rim from one spot. They’re all more comfortable with their roles now as opposed to when Rondo was at the point.
Now, who’s to blame for that? I’d say that this is on Doc Rivers. Instead of having Rajon Rondo break his back on every offensive play for the Celtics, let other guys create for themselves. Lets see more action with Jeff Green posting up. Jason Terry and Paul Pierce run some great screen and roll action where the ball is reversed and the floor is left unbalanced. They’re good enough players that they can do these things on a regular basis.
Marquis Daniels and Mikeal Pietrus are gone now. The offensive talent on this roster is booming and it needs to be used. If there was ever a silver lining in Rondo getting hurt this would be it. Instead of running guys off of baseline screens now, Rivers is going to feel like there’s a lot more flexibility on his team. He’s able to trust more than just Garnett, Rondo, and Pierce. This offense is going to be significantly different with Rondo in it and we’ll probably see him score some more points as well.
His double digit assist totals are fine–and they may not disappear with this new, free flowing offense–but what is an assist if it was the most predictable one in the world? If the offense isn’t scoring more than 95 points per game, then the assist really doesn’t mean anything. Its nice to have those totals, but the win is more important than that. Rajon understands that, Doc understands that, and so does Danny Ainge.
Random offense is really the best kind of offense for this team. Rondo may be the best at picking out mismatches and attacking them or delivering the ball on time to attack them. If the defense is always scrambled because of ball movement, things will open up even more and the offense will prosper. Rondo is advanced enough to where he doesn’t have to play in a slow paced offense just to prosper–just let things flow.
Since Rondo went down, the Celtics have attempted 132 three point attempts. Before Rondo went down they only attempted 718 according to NBAwowy.com. That’s no coincidence. Before Rondo’s injury a lot of the three point attempts were long, drawn out plays that resulted in such. Now with the offense being much faster and early in the clock, these attempts have gone up. That’s a good thing for this offense because the three point shot is the most valuable shot in the league. And they’re shooting 35% on these attempts.
That’s something that needs to stay up for this offense to prosper. When Rondo comes back things shouldn’t change at all.