As Rondo goes, so go the Celtics.
How many times have we said that around here? We usually say it after he drops a triple double, dashes around the court relieving opposing guards of the basketball, and generally wows just shy of the point of drawing up blueprints for his post-retirement statue outside the Garden.
Yet when the Celtics don't play well, we don't seem to be as willing to look to our budding young star as a reason.
Can we have it both ways?
If the seeds of Rondo as the driver of the Celtics bus were planted earlier this season, the first negative bud sprouted at Celtics Hub after the Nets game… where Zach Lowe said:
Rajon Rondo has gotten a pass for the team’s turnover problems. I do
not understand why.
Rajon Rondo turns the ball over a lot. There are 94 guards in the NBA
who have played at least 1000 minutes so far this season; of those,
only six have turned the ball more often—per possession—than Rajon Rondo
And he backs that up with a good amount of evidence to show that while those particular numbers are a little askew because of how much Rondo has the ball, he IS part of the problem.
On last night's edition of Boston & That Sports Babe, we dove into some of the "boredom" discussion that has been swirling around the Celtics. And that discussion has centered almost exclusively around Rasheed Wallace and the other Celtics veterans.
But what about Rajon Rondo? What about a 24 year old kid who is blazing fast, crafty in transition, and the kind of defensive menace that starts fast breaks? How excited must he be to see a lineup of guys who were all playing pro ball right around the time he was in middle school? If anyone is going to get bored with things, it's him.
Rondo is a greyhound and the rest of the Celtics are St. Bernards. They are workers, they get the job done, but they're not runners. Rondo needs big, wide open spaces… not half court sets.
But in the end, it is Rajon Rondo's responsibility to play the style of basketball this team demands. He can push it when he's got it, but he still needs to get Ray the ball… and Ray needs 3 picks to get open. He still needs to get KG the ball… and KG needs to set up shop in the post and make his little shimmy move to get a shot off. He still needs to get Paul Pierce the ball… and Pierce needs to often run a pick and roll with someone else.
So Rondo needs to find a way to do all that stuff and do it as crisply as he does all the exciting stuff we love. Because losing his focus in what he might see as the mundane beginning of some half court set causes him to be sloppy…. which leads to turnovers… which leads to runs… which leads to evaporated leads…
No, it's not all Rondo's fault. But some of it is. And if you're going to be the new leader of this team, Rajon… you've got to accept some of the blame along with some of the glory. It's like a marriage: In sickness and in health… for better or for worse.
As Rondo goes, so go the Celtics. It's time for Rondo to go off.