The Celtics gave up 111 points last night. One hundred eleven.
There were a lot of reasons for it. But let's be clear on reason number one: Rajon Rondo.
Rajon Rondo was getting torched constantly, which led to cascading defensive breakdowns, which led to open shots, which led to a 20 point blowout in front of their home crowd.
And the problem is simple. Rondo is simply not staying in front of the guy he's guarding. That's it.
Oh, you were expecting a bunch of analysis?
Nope. There's none needed. It's that simple. If Rajon Rondo just slides his feet and prevents the penetration, then the Celtics no longer need to slide a guy over to help. If Perk or KG don't have to slide over, then the ball won't get dropped down to Zach Randolph or Marc Gasol. Which means Ray Allen or Paul Pierce won't have to sag down to double team. Which means their guy can't slide into an open spot to receive the pass and whip it around the perimeter until the Celtics just stop rotating and watch an open shot go up.
It's a domino effect. One guy gets burned, then other guys rotate. Pass the ball enough and you're going to get a wide open shot.
Rondo right now is letting guys get by him… and then he's slapping at the ball or poking at it from behind (like in the picture above) to try to get steals. And its working a couple of times. But nowhere near enough to justify what's happening.
Simply sliding his feet and staying in front of his man very well could have killed all that great Memphis ball movement last night. He could have frustrated Mayo and Conley to a point of stalling the entire offense.
One guy not doing a simple little thing he was supposed to do led to massive break downs. He wasn't the only one blowing it on defense out there. But it's certainly where it started.
Associated Press photos