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NBA Finals, Lakers Celtics: Rondo shut down in game one

Jun 4, 2010, 1:58 AM EDT

Thumbnail image for Rondo_Fisher.jpg

With 8:45 remaining in the very first quarter of game one, the Celtics looked to set up their half-court offense after Ron Artest made a jumper. The Celtics brought the ball up and gave it to Kevin Garnett on the wing, who swung a two-hand pass to Rajon Rondo on the other side of the perimeter. 
It was a simple pass early in the shot clock, the type of thing an offense does before they actually get down to the business of trying to put the ball in the basket. 99% of the time, that pass gets to Rondo without incident. That wasn’t the case with this pass. Before the ball got to Rondo, Kobe Bryant jumped into the passing lane and deflected the ball, forcing Rondo to jump in order to attempt to make the catch. 
Rondo failed to get a handle on the ball, tried desperately to save it, and ended up putting the ball directly into the hands of Ron Artest. Artest started a sloppy three-on-two break that ended in nothing but a missed layup, an offensive rebound, and a foul on the floor. In fact, the Lakers didn’t even get a basket on the ensuing possession. 
Nonetheless, a message had been sent. The Lakers were not going to give the Celtics anything free, even a pass out on the perimeter early in the shot clock. They were going to beat them to every loose ball, run at every opportunity, and keep the pressure on Rondo and the Celtics at all times. In short, they did to the Celtics in game one what Rondo did to the Cavaliers and Magic in the previous two rounds of the playoffs. 
As a player, Rajon Rondo gets his individual numbers by preying on the mistakes of his opponents. Every time one of his opponents fails to locate a loose ball or rebound, Rondo is there to grab it. Every time the other team doesn’t have enough players back on defense, Rondo is going to push the ball. Every time the Lakers help off of Rondo too much, he’s going to cut into the open space. When there’s a lazy pass, Rondo is going to snatch it and start streaking towards the hoop. 
As a team, the Celtics pulled off two consecutive playoff upsets because they were the ones controlling the chaos. They pushed the pace, they forced turnovers, they got the early leads, they made teams too nervous to trust their role players and loaded up on their superstars. They didn’t just beat teams; they made them miserable while they were doing it. 
On Thursday night, the Celtics got a taste of their own medicine. The Lakers played a high-energy, low-risk, mistake-free game, and they forced Rondo and the rest of the Celtics out of their comfort zone. Without a supply of mistakes to feed off of, Rondo was thrown to the Lakers’ half-court defense and left to starve. Rondo loves to grab long rebounds and start the break; the Lakers only missed six three-pointers all game, and 72 of their 102 points came on points in the paint or free throws. When the Celtics did get the ball in a possible transition situation, the Laker bigs sprinted back to seal off the paint. Thanks to all of those factors, the Celtics only managed five fast-break points in game one. 
With the Lakers failing to give Rondo any opportunities to run, he was forced to try and score points against the Lakers’ half-court defense. Things did not work out well for him. Rondo went 6-14 from the field, which isn’t good news for Celtics fans. The worse news is that Rondo went 6-14 while making three of his five shots from outside the paint. 
When Rondo tried to drive, the Lakers were waiting for him. His behind-the-back fakes drew no reaction. His reverses didn’t stop his layups from getting turned away. When he looked to drive and dish, the Lakers anticipated the pass. When he looked to go all the way to the basket, a Laker defender was there to draw the charge. Everyone knows Rondo has some very significant weaknesses; the Lakers were finally able to exploit them. 
For game two, the Celtics need to do a better job of stopping the Lakers from living in the paint and start forcing them into making some mistakes so Rondo can get the team running. In the half-court, Rondo has to find a way to get some points, whether it means getting more creative with his floaters in the paint or taking a deep breath and trying to draw contact. Rondo and the Celtics have a lot of adjustments to make before game two; if they have another performance like this, they’re going to need three straight wins in Boston to stay competitive in this series. 
  1. Lakers4Lyfe - Jun 4, 2010 at 2:06 AM

    Anyone who predicted a 4-game series here is pretty retarded. After seeing the old celtics tonight, this may go down in a 4-game sweep. If not, 5 for sure.

  2. Ron - Jun 4, 2010 at 2:18 AM

    Yeah, those people that were predicting a four-game sweep for the Celtics, you sure don’t see them coming in here, do you? Not after a beat-down like that.

  3. Steve - Jun 4, 2010 at 2:29 AM

    Great game for the Lakers. Celts look old, slow and they cry on every foul. I think it will take 6 games because the Celts will probably take 2 out of 3 on their home court. Home court advantage is just too significant. When you saw the Suns in the first 2 games, you would have thought they were toast, but they were completely different in games 3 & 4. I think Celtic pride will extend it to 6, but they just don’t have the talent to win the series.

  4. luffy - Jun 4, 2010 at 3:03 AM

    I wonder where are all the Celts fans now? So the question of who’s gonna contain Rondo is answered already…
    Now moving forward to the other questions?
    Who’s gonna guard Kobe?
    R. Allen and T. Allen? Joketime!
    Who’s gonna guard Pau? The soft Pau Gasol as the Boston Fans say…
    KG? Perk? Sheed? Big Baby? Perhaps Scalabrine could?
    Celtics Defense? Defense my A$$!
    The Lakers had more blocks, rebounds and steals…
    Lakers in 5, in 6 if the Celts get lucky…

  5. Celtics Fan - Jun 4, 2010 at 8:50 AM

    Here I am, for those who asked. And it is unwise to doubt the Celtics so hastily after just a Game 1. both are great teams and both have a proven ability to learn from mistakes and adapt accordingly.
    Because I’m a Celtics fan, I must choose them… but I say Celtics in 7 games of a hard-fought series.

  6. celtsfan - Jun 4, 2010 at 8:54 AM

    Don’t worry laker fans. The Celtics fans are still here. Big deal that you took game 1 on your home court. The Celts just didn’t have it last night. I think you’ll see something different on Sunday. Adjustments will be made and the easy drives to the hoop will come with a penalty. Keep talking crap because it makes it that much seeter when we pound you.

  7. co - Jun 4, 2010 at 9:12 AM

    “They don’t have the talent to win the series.”
    Are you serious? The Celtics have the talent to win every single game they play. This isn’t a question of talent; it’s a question of will. They have massive talent. Last night, they had zero will.

  8. ocgunslinger - Jun 4, 2010 at 9:45 AM

    Series over??? NFW. The Celtics did not make the playoffs via a weak schedule, they earned the right to be here and they are a talented and experienced team. Anyone who thinks this series is over has no clue. This is going to be a hard fought series to the end. It is now up to the Celtics to make some adjustments and believe me they will. I am and have been a Laker’s fan since 1960. Enjoy a classic series folks as for the winner and loser this series will become a part of basketball legendary history of two great teams.

  9. TOM - Jun 4, 2010 at 10:26 AM

    I expect a very different Celtic team for game 2. Remember when they looked a little slow in game 1 vs Cleveland. KG will play better. Ray Allen will shoot better.

  10. Foul Dwimmerlaik - Jun 4, 2010 at 10:52 AM

    It would be foolish to count the Celtics out after Game 1. I would say the same thing if the Lakers lost this. This is precisely why it is a best of 7 series. This will be a slugfest. But I still think that Lakers will take Game 2. The question is which games will LA take up there in Boston? Lakers in 6.

  11. Dave - Jun 4, 2010 at 10:58 AM

    I have news for the Celtics and their fans….The 2008 Lakers are no more. Get used to seeing the 2009 Laker champs like this and get ready to drop some games in Boston.
    Brace for impact!

  12. KC - Jun 4, 2010 at 11:00 AM

    Celtics all the way!! One game down doesn’t mean down and out! Extreme talent on the Celtics team! Don’t be haters- let both talented teams play and prove who is the best!

  13. KB24 - Jun 4, 2010 at 11:11 AM

    What a great game last night for the Lakers – darn near perfect. These certainly aren’t the Lakers of 2008! Everyone came out and played their part, knew their role & executed it for a beautiful old fashioned beat-down!! Anyone that thinks the Celtics are down, don’t fool yourself…that is a team full of talent and future hall-of-fame players. Expect them to adjust and make it tough, much like the Suns did last series. These are the best two teams in the NBA this year – do not fool yourself to think the Celtics are gonna roll over and disappear. HOWEVER – KB24 & Company will prevail due to sheer talent and determination…LAKERS in 6 (win @ home)!!!!!!

  14. Kayoss - Jun 4, 2010 at 11:31 AM

    I’m a hardcore lakers fan, but if anyone thinks that the lakers will sweep the celtics, you are really retarded or you just got hit by a damn truck and not thinking straight. Lakers decimated the Suns in their first two games, and everyone thought this was going to be a sweep, Suns came back and tied the series.
    Celtics is a better team than the Suns IMHO, they will make adjustments and put the Lakers to the brink of the breaking point, however dont think for a second that the Lakers will not make adjustments of their own. They will not let the boston humilate them again. Lakers hopefully will win in 6 games this might be one of the toughest, most physical, and maybe the best NBA finals in the last 20 years.

  15. KMN - Jun 4, 2010 at 12:01 PM

    Good game… It will be a great series with lakers in 6. But Celtics are not going to fold. Go Kobe….. MVPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP… Who is King now????

  16. John - Jun 4, 2010 at 12:29 PM

    Your “retarded” wording indicates that you are a moron.

  17. LakersRweaksamples - Jun 4, 2010 at 12:44 PM

    Celtics will win series in 6 games but only if the Lakers are lucky enough to win another game. Celtics will readjust and take care of business on Sunday.

  18. Omnius - Jun 4, 2010 at 1:20 PM

    Where in the world is Rondo? Didn’t show up last night that’s for sure. The Lakers made Rondo look little and weak and Rondo can expect a lot more of the same. Yeah Fisher didn’t look so bad last night did he? I enjoyed watching the Lakers push the Ancient Celtics around like pushovers. Early in the game Gasol gave Ray Allen a good chest thump and all Ray could do was smile. Looks like the Lakers will win in 5 games as they are clearly the superior team in all respects.

  19. Swells - Jun 4, 2010 at 1:30 PM

    Phil Jackson is 47-0 when his teams take game 1?
    Something remarkable will have to happen for the Celtics to take the series.
    I’m a Laker Lifer, but I also know that the Celtics have that “Pride Thing.”
    They will not crumble.
    Won’t take the series, but will fight to the end.
    Lakers in 6.

  20. Purple and Gold - Jun 4, 2010 at 1:50 PM

    One game down actually does mean down and out when the loser is going up against a Phil Jackson coached team.

  21. ODEY - Jun 4, 2010 at 2:13 PM


  22. ocgunslinger - Jun 4, 2010 at 2:15 PM

    Thanks for the input. You added a lot to this post of which we will all be eternally grateful.

  23. LakerSmitty - Jun 4, 2010 at 3:19 PM

    Hey ODEY,
    Teams win championships not star players. Being a Celtic honk you should know this. Maybe you’re just green with envy that you have none of the following:
    1. Heart of a champion – your celtics whine like sheared sheep, on every call.
    2. The best player on the court, make that the 2 best players on the court. Kobe and Pau.
    3. The greatest pro basketball coach EVER. Remember the teams PJ developed into champions did not win before he arrived.
    You will remember the beat down that’s coming and the pain the Lakes will deliver will haunt you through your cold and bitter off-season.

  24. jonnymac - Jun 4, 2010 at 5:58 PM

    oh wait the Celtics do indeed got rings!…..great game last night…GO LAKERS let’s smash them trash-talkin Lepper-Cons!!!!! and give Kobe his 5th!
    i must say i love it how even the announcers and analysts are starting to finally stop Kobe-hatin and give the man his due! LeBron who?
    I agree with the knowledgeable basketball fans above….this will in know way be a sweep, the Purple and Gold do indeed have their work cut out for them, but ultimately the LAKERS just have too many weapons that can randomly hurt you aside from the Black Mamba – wait till Odom gets started offensively, thats one more Laker win for sure!
    Can’t wait for one of those signature outrageously high flying-man dunks by Shannon Brown as well.
    The Celtics may have shown that thuggery wins championships occasionally particularly when facing an intimidated team….but the Black Mamba, Gasol, and Artest are definitely gonna tap that A$$ this time…..sorry lepper-cons!

  25. dococ1 - Jun 4, 2010 at 6:47 PM

    All of y’all Celtics fans, can kiss our collective Lakers a$$.

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