Bad defense starts at the top | Red's Army - The Voice of Boston Celtics Fans
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Bad defense starts at the top

Rondo burned by conley

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.

Rondo frustrated

Associated Press photos

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  • Danno

    How many Lazy passes if Rondo going to throw away before they have a remedial passing class at practice.
    It’s embarrassing.

  • He’s not alone. Everyone’s making terribly lazy passes out there. It’s terrible

  • Danno

    yes, but he’s the point guard. he handles the ball way more than anyone else.
    The only ones I saw trying to win last night were Nate and Sheed it seemed like.


    Cue TTR…….


    “Don’t blame Rondo for this mess – u guys always blame Rondo! KG is done, Pierce is Done, Rondo is holding this team together – u guys are clueless!!” etc etc ad nauseum……

  • CFH

    That picture really shows how huge Rodno’s hands are. Damn.
    And how has it taken TTR this long to show up? Is he ok? 😉

  • Adam Goodman

    I’ve been saying this for months on Gametime Live and taking all the shit for it. (Also mentioned it on WEEI radio on a call-in) I’m glad someone else isn’t turning the other cheek at Rondo’s defense, or lack thereof rather. It’s time for everyone to take Rondo off the pedestal and let him shoulder some blame as well. Kudos on a great post.

  • Thanks.
    Bottom line… we’ll call ’em as we see ’em. I still love Rondo and think he’s the franchise player of the future….. just not playing like he did last night.
    He’s capable of better.

  • Celtsfan33

    …and when was the last time we took a couple of offensive fouls in a game. Seems like we’re not stepping in front of guys anymore. I’ve never seen so many dunks and layups against us.


    He’s ok once medicated…

  • Orb

    Now that everyone else is as depressed and hopeless as he is, TTR has moved on to darken other blogs. His work here is done.


    Fact is Rondo is regularly burned on D but KG isn’t as quick to help out as he used to be and neither is Perk. Teams watch tape and work out where they can attack
    First line of attack is route one past Rondo and swing it or attack the rim from there….

  • No questions, more turnovers than assists last night I think?
    Rondo IS the point guard though and should be our best passer I think. I also suggest that if there was more movement on offense that he may have clearer passing lanes.
    Make no mistake, he played horribly both nights, that punk rookie Jennings? C’mon Rondo, Tommy tells us all the time how proud you are, slide the feet buddy. YOU ARE BETTER THAN THIS!


    Ha! That’s gold!!!

  • Rondo not guilty

    I can’t believe you guys are blaming Rondo for this..?!?! I ain’t saying he is playing stellar right now but please let’s be honest a little!
    It’s called PICK N ROLL !!!
    There is nothing Rondo can do do to stay in front of his man if he is being picked left and right…
    Only thing he can do is get injured trying to fight too hard through the picks he is consistently seeing out there..! every coach knows rondo will harrass his PG and steal the ball a couple of times if they don’t help their PG with picks…
    It’s not Rondo’s fault if our bigs are getting too lazy defending the pick n roll properly like we used to do 2 years ago…
    can’t you see how Pierce and Perkins are playing right now..???
    And the blame goes to rondo..??? com’on now!!

  • I’m not talking about getting picked… I’m talking about D’ing the man up and just getting beat off the dribble. I’ve seen it happen a lot.
    And it’s not Rondo’s fault that guys are slow to rotate… but it’s his fault that they have to rotate at all.
    Now I get it…. every defender is going to get beat every once in a while. I’m not trying to be some douchebag like Shaughnessy who lazily blasts people to get a reaction. Rondo is getting beat too much off the dribble… especially last night.
    Like I said… I love Rondo too. But the truth is the truth.

  • Lakerhater (FD)

    I clicked on this post just out of sick curiousity to see ruins go ballistic. I think you made his head explode.. send an ambulance.

  • Double P Reppin the B

    I completely agree. I know most people don’t wanna admit or hear it but Rondo deserves a lot of the blame for this team’s struggles. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen Rondo just completely lock a PG down and take him out of the game. It’s lazy half ass defense and his approach that leads to the team get overworked because of multiple passes. I mean he’s the youngest of the starting 5 and the supposed “future” he should be the one most busting his ass on defense…
    I know people are gonna go crazy over this but I really think Rondo is a stat whore. He really makes such a big deal about getting assists and steals now that it has become his #1 priority. The betterment of the team, well thats now #2.

  • JPD985

    You can’t blame the teams troubles on 1 player, everyone should be taking their share of the blame, Doc included. They win as a team and should lose as a team too.

  • jared

    Rondo was absolutely pathetic on defense last night….I havent yelled at my tv that much in a while….ok, maybe not “a while”, but still..
    Also, is it just me, or are the coaches looking totally lame on the sidelines? Why arent they all over these guys for playing like dead ducks?

  • Rondo not guilty

    My point is:
    Out of the 5 starters I can name you 4 that get beat one on one more often than Rondo is…
    I understand your perception that opposing guards get inside too often and break us down. But before accusing Rondo of not moving is feet, let’s make sure we recognize when he is getting picked and when he is just simply and purely attempting risky bets at poking the ball…
    He did mess up a couple of times, notably last year against Rose but I can assure you we have one of the best defending point guard in the league and executing poorly the pick n roll defense is NOT a matter of him moving his feet…
    talking about moving feet in defense..??
    Look at Pierce, KG, Perk and Allen… Don’t look at Rondo!!
    If there were no pick n roll in the game (which is totally unrealistic I know but just for argument sake..) you would be talking about a solid contender for defensive player of the year!!! So let’s get frustrated about the right things (in this particular case our poor/laughable pick n roll Defense) instead of being frustrated at Rondo moving his feet…
    He is not just the league leader in steal but also came second for best on-the-ball defender in the entire league according to GMs..!!
    I’m still hopeful they can somehow get out of this funk and produce when it counts during the playoffs…

  • I think you’re missing my point. I agree that Rondo is very good at all of the things you’re saying. He’s just not doing them now.
    He’s playing poorly. Others are too. But it starts with him. And I’m not talking about times where he’s picked… even though there were instances of him blowing the pick and roll defense too.
    I’m just talking about the times he was defending a guy straight up and got burned. It happened way too often.

  • DRJ

    Let’s not forget about the other team last night. The Griz were shooting LIGHTS OUT, especially from deep. There were many times when they hit nothing but net from behind the 3-line despite having a guy jump right in their grill. And at one point in Q1, a guy through up a prayer from DEEP center field and it still went in off the glass.
    Sometimes, you just get beat. The problem last night was that when they got beat early, the Cs gave up. Then they came out for Q3 ready to fight, if you remember. They tried to get back in the game, and did pretty well. But the Griz KEPT hitting their tough shots. And the Cs soon gave up again, this time for good.
    I saw Rondo get beat a few times. I also saw the Griz make a LOT of tough shots. And then I saw the whole team give up, except Nate and Ray. (Sheed was pretty good too, amazingly enough.) But guys like Perk? I saw Perk stop short when he was closing out on Young in the corner and just WATCH the guy shoot, rather than jump to defend. And then I saw Baby swinging over to triple-team the PG instead of guarding his man, who then got the easy dunk.
    A LOT of guys did not do their jobs besides Rondo. And the Griz were shooting lights out. And our guys gave up. And that’s how they got blown out.
    I just hope that the memory of hearing their own fans boo them at home will remind ALL of them to never give up, and to just do their jobs. Because even if they DO believe these games don’t matter, and even if the ARE saving it for the playoffs… the problem with that strategy is that meanwhile, their fans will abandon them if they play like they did last night.

  • Great article John. I really couldn’t have put it any better. Rondo has played defense like this for a few games this year and it’s annoying as hell. It breaks down the whole defense and allows the other team to get easy baskets.

  • Perry

    Good insight and constructive criticism. Rondo has always gotten the best of Conley, but not last night. It’s another rude awakening for a team who right now are not playing, but living off it’s reputation as a defensive stalwart.
    Tib’s defense is built around communication and rotation. But even if Rondo let’s his man slip by, and the rotation seamless, Rondo has surrendered his man. Then all it takes is that one extra pass to break the defense down. Celts have done a poor job this year of guarding the 3 point line.
    Rondo has had this problem of staying in front of his man from the beginning. Part of the problem I think is he is so quick and long for guard his size that he believes his craftiness can create a steal. Sometimes it does, but it’s not a fundamentally sound gamble, especially when the opponent is on major run. In my mind it’s the equivalent of the ‘hero’ shot.
    Isn’t indicative of the greater problems we see happening? This team has been in and out of consciousness when it comes to doing the necessary work needed to win a ball game. Regrettably they act privileged and are being out worked and hustled.

  • Perry

    I mean, for god sake they looked like the Globetrotters out there. Maybe Danny should be taking pointers from Chris Wallace??

  • the-green-mile

    this team is simply to old. they can’t keep up on defense. no mobility, no communication with each other on the court, no heart, no celtics pride. they have been bad since christmas. this is march now. it shouldn’t take that long for them to figured it out. what we see from the celtics today, is what will see in the playoffs ladies and gentlemen. nothing will change. they will be knock off in the first round of the playoffs. i hate to say this, but they just sucks. im already looking forward for the next season.

  • rav

    they’re bigger than his face. he might have cancer!