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Sag off Rondo? You’re just giving him a head start

John - Red's Army (@RedsArmy_John) October 23, 2012 Gametime, Rajon Rondo 22 Comments

There’s a pervasive myth out there that you can sag off of Rajon Rondo and render him ineffective.  People will point to the Lakers as an example of how putting Kobe Bryant on Rondo and letting him roam is an effective strategy.

But that’s overly simplistic, and doesn’t take into account other matchup issues, and other team deficiencies that have cost the Celtics against the Lakers that also play into it.

The fact is, if you’re playing way off Rondo, you’re often just giving him a head start.  Instead of defending him, you’re like a defensive back in the open field against a wide receiver.  The open field tackle is very difficult to make, and the open court defense of Rondo can be equally difficult.  In the Knicks preseason game in Albany, we saw a few examples.

At the :07 mark, Rondo gets the ball with a solid 8 feet between him and the defender.  Rondo closes that gap quickly and gets to the rim for the finish.

At :16, Rondo is getting a pick from Jeff Green.  The defender goes under the screen, and Rondo hits the gas to the left.  By the time both meet at same spot, the right elbow, Rondo is by him.  One step later, Rondo has square up, left his defender behind him, and is in for the lay up attempt.  Jared Sullinger is there to take advantage of all the rotations caused by Rondo’s penetration to tip in the miss.

At :29, Rondo gets 5 feet of space to work with, and he decides to bust the defender right and get right to the hoop.

The obvious focus on Rondo has been his shooting, which has also seen a major improvement this season.  He’s been very willing to take the jumper in these situations as well, and we’ve seen him hit a lot more of them this preseason than we’re used to.

But sagging off a player because he can’t shoot doesn’t quite negate his ability to get past you if you’re slower.  As you can see from these examples, sagging off Rondo gives a very fast player a chance to get a head start to the basket.  And even if he doesn’t make the bucket, he will have caused enough turbulence in the defense for someone else to come in and take advantage of it.

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  • http://www.truehoop.com Henry Abbott

    Agreed! David Thorpe has been saying this for years: http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/21036/guard-rajon-rondo-already

  • Cam

    Yeah I would do the opposite against Rondo. Pressure the crap out of him. He’s not comfortable (I don’t think) to take over tue scoring load consistently if you try and force him to exploit a match up.

    I also think he gets such a breather that he barely has to expelled any energy on offense because no one is on him.

    Im sure Rondo would adjust to this but in general I think its a better strategy than sagging. Of course your need a somewhat capable defender on him

    • kg215

      That would be interesting, but you forget why they sag off Rondo, he is one of the quickest guards in the league. Can’t think of anyone who can get in Rondo’s face and not get burned. That is also true of Westbrook and Rose pre-injury. They are way too fast to pressure hard, and the no hand-checking rule is in play as well.

  • Drew

    Im right there with what Kevin McHale said last year about defenders sagging on him. It helps open up passing lanes, and gives him great court vision.

  • RedsLoveChild

    Sagging off RR has worked for LA since they had Twin Towers {Bynum, Gasol} waiting for him in the paint.

    Now, it`s Howard`s turn to join Gasol in “stuffing” Rondo.

    Sorry folks, that`s just reality!

    • Chulinho

      It hasn’t really worked in the last couple of seasons for LA.

      For instance, last season Rondo was 10/15 (66.7%) at the rim, 7/16 (43.8%) on jumpers, and 17/31 (54.8%) overall against the Lakers.

      I don’t really think Rajon’s scoring is a liability against the Lakers anymore. Those games were close. And, while I do agree lack of size ultimately hurt the Celtics, I also believe the lack of scoring off of the bench was damaging. Rondo’s only real problem against them has been turnovers.

      • RedsLoveChild

        Rondo committed 7 turnovers against them last year in those 2 games…and 3.5 has pretty much become his overall norm in recent years.

        Bynum & Gasol had 2 of their 6 blocked shots in one of those games at Rondo`s expense…and Rondo had 0 FTA`s in the other.

        • Drew

          I’m so sick of hearing your “we are screwed” comments. Shut up.

          • RedsLoveChild

            Screw you.

        • Chulinho

          Okay, as far as scoring is concerned, would you rather Rajon shoot, but get his shot blocked TWICE out of fifteen total attempts at the rim; or, would you rather he shoot jumpers while Kobe sags off him?

          Rondo’s turnovers and lack of free throw attempts are well-documented. Everyone wants him to stop passing when he’s five feet away from the hoop, because the pass typically ends up as a turnover or missed jump shot (unless Bass or KG are the shooters.)

          Rondo said that this season he’d like his turnovers to go down and his free throw attempts to go up. I just hope he remembers that.

          • RedsLoveChild

            At this point, I`d much rather see Rondo shoot jumpers when Kobe sags off. For one, he`s shown he can hit them on certain nights, especially if he has a rhythm going.

            All I know is that I`m sick of seeing him blow into the lane at Staples…run into a couple of 7 footers…leave his feet…get his shot blocked…or see him attempt to kick it back out 22 feet back to the 3-point line.

            The refs are never going to whistle a foul on either Laker big man when Rondo drives, even if the ball and Rondo both wind up in the mezzanine level!

          • kg215

            I would also prefer an aggressive Rondo who gets to the rim. It gets the other team in the penalty earlier, and Rondo can score over centers despite Redslovechild’s incorrect assumptions. He can fake them, go under the basket or just use his speed. Yes he will get blocked sometimes, like all players do but Rondo at his best can tear apart the defense and him driving is an important part of that. Don’t forget the Lakers are all over the place defensively. Howard is a beast, Gasol is only decent, Artest is a lot slower, Kobe only plays d at certain times, Nash is terrible. There should be plenty of things Rondo can exploit.

    • jrleftfoot

      red`s love child, like most brats , is constantly seeking attention. he/she doesn`t care if it is positive or negative. “screw you’ is it`s idea of cogent analysis. the anal part is spot on.kobe`s scrotum is feeling abandoned.

  • Celtic Pride in Oz

    Pre-season shows that Rondo’s been working on his jumper and it shows. He’s also been willing to take it more and showing more confidence in it. Let them keep sagging on him; he’s still too quick for everyone and that helps him drive to the hoop where he’s a good finisher, but it also opens up his passing yet again and with the shooters we have this year, both on the starting lineup AND the bench, Rondo’s going to have a stellar year. So too, then, will our team. Droolin’ and hangin’ out for the start of the season… let’s crush Miami on opening night and let’s grab # 18!!!

  • tim

    rondo’s play has been scaring me. way too many turnovers on plays that shouldnt be turnovers just him be cutesy and trying to have tons of flare instead of getting the job done

    • jrleftfoot

      It`s preseason, dude. possibly a little earlyto be scared.

      • tim

        ive been wathcing rondo for the past 5 years and thats wat has got me scared its the same things like not finishing with the left hand on the elft side adding to much flare to passes one handed passes not finsishing strong at the hoop and just plain old lazy d that have me scared

        • kg215

          Rondo does some crazy stuff like that but in the end he is extremely effective. Last year I felt like he was gambling way too much on defense (both his defender and passing lanes), but when someone compared Rondo’s defensive numbers to Bradley’s, Rondo was only a tiny bit worse on individual d and better on team d. And this is Bradley when he was locking people down, making life miserable for guys like Jameer Nelson.

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  • OlSkool

    That Lakers Game 7 strategy was only effective because Ray Allen couldn’t hit anything. He should have torched Fisher for 30-35 points that night.

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