May 10, 2010, 7:40 PM EDT
Rajon Rondo had one of the best games in the playoffs in game four, destroying the Cleveland Cavaliers with his scoring, rebounding, and passing. In game three, the Cavaliers had success slowing Rondo down by packing the paint in the half-court and forcing him to stay on the perimeter. In game four, Boston was able to get out on the break much more. Rondo thrived in the full-court game, and now the Cavs are searching for a way to slow Rondo down in game five.
With that in mind, let’s look at how Rondo got his points and assists in game four. Do they need to make adjustments in the half-court game, such as switching LeBron James onto Rondo, or do they need to focus on limiting Boston’s transition opportunities? Let’s see:
In transition (7 seconds or less after a Cleveland miss or turnover):
-Rondo makes layup six seconds after a missed three
-Rondo draws a shooting foul two seconds after a Cavalier turnover
-Rondo draws shooting foul four seconds after a three-point miss
-Rondo draws shooting foul four seconds after a Boston block
-Rondo draws shooting foul seven seconds after a Cavalier turnover
-Rondo makes layup four seconds after a Cavalier turnover
In semi-transition (8-10 seconds after a Cleveland miss or turnover):
-Rondo draws shooting foul nine seconds after a Cavalier turnover
-Rondo draws shooting foul nine seconds after missed three-pointer
After dead-ball situations (Boston takes it from out of bounds):
-Rondo makes assisted 7-footer
-Rondo makes layup
-Rondo makes 19-foot jumper
-Rondo makes 17-foot jumper
-Rondo makes 16-point shot
-Rondo makes floater
-Rondo makes floater after offensive rebound
-Rondo is intentionally fouled with 17 seconds to play
Rondo only scored 12 points against the Cavaliers when the Celtics were forced to take it from out of bounds, and six of those 12 points came on jump shots. Considering he only shot 9-21 from the field, the Cavs should be willing to live with how they defended Rondo’s scoring in half-court situations — it was in the open floor where Rondo drew all those fouls and really did his damage. But what about the assists?
Transition (7 seconds or less after a Cleveland turnover or miss):
-Rondo finds T. Allen for a dunk five seconds after a Cleveland turnover
-Rondo finds Davis for a layup seven seconds after a Cleveland turnover
Semi-Transition (8-10 seconds after a Cleveland miss or turnover):
-Rondo finds R. Allen for 8-foot shot 9 seconds after a missed three
-Rondo finds R. Allen for a three 8 seconds after a miss
-Rondo finds Davis for a layup eight seconds after a Boston block
-Rondo finds R. Allen for a 20-foot jumper
-Rondo finds Garnett for a make
-Rondo finds Tony Allen for layup
-Rondo finds Garnett for a jump shot at the end of the shot clock
-Rondo finds R. Allen for a jump shot
-Rondo finds T. Allen for a layup
-Rondo finds Garnett for a layup six seconds after a Cleveland make
-Rondo finds Pierce for a dunk after an offensive rebound
-Again, only 12 of the 27 points created by Rondo’s assists came in half-court situations. Rondo had an amazing game, but Cleveland can live with what he did in the half-court. In game five, limiting Rondo’s transition opportunities by turning the ball over less (17 for the Cavs in game three), giving Boston fewer chances to run off of long rebounds (17 missed threes for the Cavs), getting some offensive rebounds (the Cavs had three all game), and getting blocked less (the Cavs had eight of their shots blocked), will be just as important in stopping Rondo as anything they do when he has the ball.
Rondo is too quick, too good around the basket, too athletic, and too good of a passer to be stopped in the open court. If the Cavs want to slow him down at all, they can’t allow him to play his game.
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