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Rondo says three Celtics keys to a title: defend, rebound, stop LeBron

Sep 3, 2012, 8:45 PM EDT

Boston Celtics v Miami Heat - Game Seven Getty Images

Rajon Rondo is two thirds right about this.

Rondo is on his Red Bull sponsored and fueled stop in Hong Kong and spoke with the South China Morning Post for an interesting interview. He discusses having to learn and adjust as a rookie who went from a Kentucky star to third string on a losing NBA team. He talked about growing as a player and maturing as a person. He talked about wanting to be a quarterback.

And he talked about what it was going to take for the Celtics to win another title with this group next season.

“We’ve not been up to par in terms of winning the championship but we’ve been in every round in every fight,” says Rondo. “There are a few things we have to do – obviously stopping LeBron. But that’s easier said than done. We’ve got to do a better job of team rebounding, keeping guys out of the paint. That’s not just when playing Miami but overall. We got to get better rebounding and defensively.”

Three things to do for the Celtics to win a title. Let’s look at them.

First, stopping — or at least slowing and containing — LeBron James is the task for 29 teams that want to knock off the Heat as champions. As Rondo said, no easy task, but it is hurdle to clear in the NBA now whether you are in Boston, Los Angeles, Oklahoma City or anywhere else. So, we’ll give Rondo a checkmark there for being right.

Second, better defense — no, that’s not the problem. The Celtics had the second best defense in the defense in the league last year giving up 95.5 points per 100 possessions, — 6.2 points per 100 fewer than the league average. They held teams to the second lowest shooting percentage against and they forced a lot of turnovers. Their defensive rating was actually better than the year they won the NBA title

The problem for the Celtics was their pedestrian offensive numbers that were 24th in the NBA at 89.9 points per 100 possessions. If Boston wants to win more, if it wants a title, it needs to score more. That should come with the addition of Jason Terry off the bench and bringing back a healthy Jeff Green. There should be more scoring off the bench. But the end of the floor the Celtics need to improve is when they have the ball.

Third, rebounding — Rondo’s right there. Boston grabbed 19.7 percent of their missed sots last season, the worst offensive rebounding percentage in the league. Offensive rebounds are often easy putback points, at the least they are a second chance. On the other end, Celtics opponents got the offensive board on 27.6 percent of their misses (above the league average).

Boston is going small this year and it is the smart way for them to win, it should help the offense and with Kevin Garnett out there the defense shouldn’t falter. But they have to crash the boards like beasts this season. For Boston, Pat Riley’s “rebounds = rings” mantra is accurate.

Or at least it’s one of the steps they need.

  1. miamatt - Sep 3, 2012 at 8:47 PM

    Don’t despair, C’s. 2 outta 3 ain’t bad hahaha…

  2. manotas211 - Sep 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

    I guarantee Celtics won’t win another ring with Garnett, Pierce and Rondo. Not with the Heat getting stronger. I still take the bulls over the cry baby Celtics. Go Lakers.!!!

    • jamesinva - Sep 3, 2012 at 10:09 PM

      Why are people putting thumbs down to this? Do people REALLY feel the C’s can beat the Heat in a 7 game series or something? Wait…Im putting a thumbs down on your comment even though I agree with you….That “Go Lakers” thing ruined it

      • andyhr17 - Sep 4, 2012 at 10:12 AM

        Yes, it’s completely out of the realm of possibility for this Celtics team to beat the Heat in a best of 7 series. Especially after the 4 game sweep that the Heat handed them last season. On, no wait, since the Heat won the championship I completely forgot that they didn’t just walk to the championship without breaking a sweat. The Heat barely squeaked by the Celts last year. It came down to the 4th quarter of the last game. Yes, it’s possible the Celtics could beat them this year.

        I mean, no team has EVER not performed as well as they did in winning the championship during the following year. Thinking the heat will not win 75 games next year is just moronic.

        Come back down to earth Heat fans. You won the championship this year and looked impressive doing it. That has no impact on this upcoming season.

      • borderline1988 - Sep 4, 2012 at 1:14 PM

        The Heat, when healthy, are a considerably stronger team than the Celtics. This has been proven in the last 2 years.
        Furthermore, Miami is only getting better. And I would argue that the Celtics can only be getting worse, as Pierce and Garnett age.

        Although the Celtics came close to beating the Heat when Bosh was out, I would never put any money on the Celtics beating the Heat in a 7 game series.

  3. eventhorizon04 - Sep 3, 2012 at 9:52 PM

    Not a Celtics fan, but I agree with the blogger.

    1. The Bulls have won the regular season, but in the playoffs, the Heat have won the East the past two years, and they look improved in terms of personnel and chemistry. The key to winning the East is slowing down LeBron – Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals made that clear.

    2. The Celtics are excellent defensively. In theory, they could be even better, but it’s hard to do much better than second best in the NBA. It’s their offense that needs significant improvement – they can’t win shoot-outs, they have to grind the game down into a defensive battle.

    3. Rebounding is a huge problem, but you have to understand that their poor rebounding goes hand in hand with their good defense. After misses on offense, they sprint back on defense to prevent transition opportunities. That’s one of the reasons why the Heat sometimes struggle against them – the Celtics are committed to defending against transition, but that means there’s nobody fighting for offensive rebounds. So it’s a mix of lack of quality bigs outside of Garnett plus their style of defense.

    • moseskkim - Sep 4, 2012 at 12:48 AM

      The celtics aren’t excellent defensively. The key to defense is getting and completing stops. U need rebounds. Rondos third key is the key to his second point. The problem is Garnett isn’t the force on the boards he was before, and bass is an undersized 4. Jeff green isn’t going to help much. When celts moved Garnett to the 5, there were noticeable pluses but rebounding is a big problem. There’s a reason the lakers are at the top of boards. Twin towers who know how to rebound.

    • passerby23 - Sep 4, 2012 at 1:03 AM

      I agree that poor rebounding correlates with a commitment to transition defense, but Boston was completely anemic on the offensive boards last year. Even a modest improvement in that category to give them a couple extra possessions would be huge. I think their offense will be much more dynamic this year too.

  4. jjordannba - Sep 3, 2012 at 10:35 PM

    DAMN! This is worse then usual. I hope you fix these grammatical errors by the morning.

    • dondada10 - Sep 3, 2012 at 11:10 PM

      “The Celtics had the second best defense in the defense in the league last year…”

      That’s how you know they were good.

  5. papichulo55 - Sep 3, 2012 at 10:51 PM

    The Celts chances, along with a handful of other teams, will depend on who is healthy when the Playoffs starts. The regular season is a war of attrition, where the true measure of six teams will be: Which team is most durable and able to recover from the inevitable injuries. This is an obvious truism for any team sport, but NBA basketball is very star driven. Injuries are gonna happen. The championship will be won by the most healthy of the six legitimate contenders.

  6. camnellum12 - Sep 3, 2012 at 11:28 PM

    With all the things listed here, I think Boston tried to address them this off-season. They went out and got arguably the best low post/rebounder in the draft and Fab Melo is a good defensive center, and those picks should help extend Kevin Garnett’s season and or career. Jason Terry can’t replace Ray Allen, but he can add his flavor to the role, he should be a great combo guard, and Boston signed Courtney Lee as well, he’s one of the better combo guards when he’s on fire. If Jeff Green is the X factor in Boston, then they have a good chance of challenging Miami. Of course all these variables have to go right, but this is there best chance at a title in 2 or 3 years. And I am a Laker fan saying all of this, sadly.

    • jimeejohnson - Sep 4, 2012 at 8:29 PM

      Change “sadly” to “with great class”. Rare are the arch rivals who respect, like Magic and Bird.

  7. manotas211 - Sep 4, 2012 at 12:02 AM

    Plain and simple the Heat are The Beast from the East and the Lakers are the team from the west. The Celtics can’t and won’t beat any of these teams in a 7 game series.

  8. bozosforall - Sep 4, 2012 at 12:35 AM

    The Puh C’s aren’t winning any titles anytime soon. If Rondo wants a title he needs to join Allen on the Heat squad.

    • jjordannba - Sep 4, 2012 at 12:39 AM

      Nah, usually there’s only one sell-out per team

      • bozosforall - Sep 4, 2012 at 12:41 AM

        Garnett and Allen were both sellouts that landed on the Puh C’s. There goes your lame theory.

  9. congocash - Sep 4, 2012 at 2:23 AM

    Boston misses the defense of tony allen and perkins…. They were a badaasss defensive team with those two….

  10. mrcuret - Sep 4, 2012 at 6:17 AM

    Actually Allen & Garnett were traded to Boston, unlike Lebron & Bosh who joined the Heat as free agents, so yeah, there’s usually one sellout per team.

  11. pellypell - Sep 4, 2012 at 6:54 AM

    With Rondo seemingly becoming more vocal(at least in the press), I believe we are seeing a leader blossom right before our very eyes. If Rajon continues to mature, this will only mean good things for Beantown.

  12. acdc363 - Sep 4, 2012 at 8:05 AM

    Rondo for mvp!

    • mazblast - Sep 5, 2012 at 2:28 PM

      He has an offbeat name and plays near ESPN’s headquarters. Beyond that, a slightly above average PG, little more.

      Want to know how to win an NBA title? Try this for starters–Shut up and play ball. Don’t tell us how great you are, don’t tell us you’re going to win, shut up and win.

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