As Doc pointed out, the amazing part of Rondo's Game 4 performance isn't
even ON the stat sheet. It was that Rondo supplied the lion's share
of on-the-ball pressure the Cs had decided to apply in this game.
There are only two guys in the Celtics playoffs lineup capable of
applying effective on-the-ball pressure on the opponent bringing up the
ball. Tony Allen, and Rajon Rondo. That is it. Rondo played all but 12
seconds of Game 4. TA played 26.5 minutes. TA applied the pressure about
half the time when he was playing (give or take). That means that Rondo
was the one applying on-the-ball coverage for about 30-34 minutes of
this game – albeit it was not applied on every possession (which would
have been truly superhuman).
It's hard to even imagine how much energy was required to do everything
Rondo did in Game 4. Think about it:
- You must track the guy bringing up the ball for the Cavs, and harass
him long enough to delay their sets by at least 4-5 seconds, preferably
8-10 or more. (This gives your team an advantage on defense.)
- Then you must guard your man in the ensuing set.
- Then, if you're Rondo, you're positioning to get the rebound, which he
succeeded in doing an astounding 18 times (playing with relative
giants). And you're fighting to actually get the rebound.
And then, whatever happens, you're bringing up the ball and setting up
For your troubles, you get slammed to the ground. A lot (16 FTs in the
And you're fighting to get the offensive rebound too.
We say the words a lot: Oh, Paul carried the team on his shoulders (been
a LONGGGG time since we said that!), oh Ray “carried us” today. But we
never really mean it. Nobody can do it all. It takes a team, right?
Yes, it does. But Rondo did – really this time – do it all. The
performance was even more incredible than we imagined. Sounds like a
good thing, right?
Maybe not. Because it begs the question: HOW OFTEN will Rondo be able to
do this? Can he do it 10 more times in this playoffs season? Because it
seems like that's what it's going to take to make it to the mountaintop
– especially if Paul Pierce does not waken from the coma he appears to
I am – seriously, now – not sure it's humanly possible to do this
10 more times in these playoffs. Rondo looked pretty exhausted at times
in this game. Imagine trying to put out that kind of effort 10 more
TA was out there for a few minutes and was forced to beg Doc to take him
out, he was that exhausted. And TA is in pretty damn good shape.
Imagine what Rondo had to go through – doing more than TA – for just
about the full 48. This was…. truly…. amazing.
At the very least, Doc MUST find someone else to help apply the
on-the-ball pressure. (Nate comes to mind.)
Also – a note to all the other players: When Rondo gets hit and is lying
on the ground, LET HIM LIE THERE A WHILE. He's doing that to
catch his second wind. Going over to “help” get him up immediately can
be stupid and counterproductive (looking at you, Sheed). Let everyone
worry for a few seconds more. The kid needs a break.
And one more thing. One final shot.
I'm pretty disgusted with Paul Pierce. When I watch Rondo play his heart
out like he does, I am disgusted to the point of nausea when I see Paul
lazily lose the ball on almost every dribble. Damn Paul – wake up or
get lost. There's a true hero standing by your side. How can you
not give your all? How dare you??
Photo: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images