Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
During Rondo’s 59 minutes of court time over the past two contests, the Celtics had an offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) of 112.7 points and that number plummeted to 99.3 in the 37 minutes he was off the floor. Rondo’s playmaking abilities are giving a jolt to a team that ranks 26th in the league in offensive rating (98.5) through 50 games.
Nowhere has Rondo’s presence been more obvious than at the end of games. While the Celtics have struggled to hold on to leads, they were able to keep the 76ers at arm’s length on Wednesday night. Clinging to a four-point lead with a minute to go, Rondo danced into traffic in the lane, drew a crowd and calmly delivered a little wraparound pass to Jared Sullinger for a three-point play that essentially sealed the win.
[...] But you can tell Rondo is ramping up. The Celtics’ pace factor over the past two games with Rondo on the court? A whopping 100.85 possessions, which would rank behind only the 76ers for the entire season. The Celtics have operated this season at a middle-of-the-pack pace (95.89 possessions; 18th in the league) but that number has jumped to 99.4 over Rondo’s past three games.
I’m not sure what more can be said about Rajon Rondo’s return. It’s been THE story line since he came back, and after a brief adjustment period, he’s starting to become his old self.
According to the NBA’s SportVu tracking system, Rondo is already averaging 55 passes per game, even though he’s averaging 25.8 minutes. If you want to break that down by minute, Rondo is averaging 2.13 passes every minute he’s on the floor. That puts him right in line with league leader in passes per game Kemba Walker, who has 76.9 in his 35.8 mpg (2.14 per minute). So Rondo is moving the ball with the best of them.
Another way to look at where Rondo is in his limited time in comparison to the rest of the league: Points created per 48 minutes… another product of the new SportVu system.
When projected out over 48 minutes, Rondo is creating 30 points by assist per game. That’s third best in the league already. Chris Paul is first with 34.8. Kendall Marshall, surprisingly, is second at 31.6.
Still, as we look for little bits and pieces over Rondo’s short time back, these are good indicators that Rondo is becoming his usual self. And with a team full of young guys who are willing and able to run, we should see the Celtics offense rise a little in the rankings as they take and make more shots in transition.
Page 2: Our monthly chat about Jeff Green’s consistency
Jeff Green’s 36-point performance against the Philadelphia 76ers, his third 30-plus-point game of the season, may have Celtics fans wondering why it doesn’t happen more often.
Still, a nightly breakout scoring game isn’t what Celtics coach Brad Stevens is expecting.
“At the end of the day, he’s having a great year from the standpoint of statistically [16.3 points per game],” Stevens said at practice Thursday. “When people have 39- or 36-point games that opens everyone’s eyes. Kevin Durant doesn’t average 36 points a game. Lebron James doesn’t. People are gonna have great nights but hopefully, he can continue to build.”
If Jeff Green is ever going to get the easy shots he needs to get going, it’s going to be now, with Rondo as his point guard. It’s no secret that the way to get Green into his big scoring zones is to get him to the rim early in games. I used to joke last year that every time Green had a big poster dunk on someone early, he was in for a big scoring night. And more often than not, it was true.
Brad Stevens and Rondo know this. They’ve seen how much more engaged Green is when he gets a few easy baskets or a big dunk early in a game. Rondo also knows his job is to make his teammates better. If he can get everyone out there an extra basket they normally wouldn’t have gotten without him, that’s the same as Rondo scoring 10 points in a quarter.
Look at feeding Green early as an investment. If they can dedicate a little time to getting him going in the first and second quarters, then he’s more likely to find his own offense in second halves.
Like all investments, there are ups and downs. Jeff Green isn’t going to be huge every night, even if we could get a clone out there that’s a combination of Cousy, Stockton, and Magic’s DNA. We’re just going to have to deal with that.
If he’s going to be better, though, it’s going to be with Rondo pushing him, and the tempo. This is slowly going to evolve into a team on which Green has his best chance to thrive. Now it’s up to him to get his head right on a nightly basis and deliver.
Related links: Globe: Jeff Green searching for consistency |
The rest of the links:
Herald: Chris Johnson plans to stick around | Globe: Celtics sign Chris Johnson for the rest of the season | ESPN Boston: Sullinger, Olynyk teammates on Rising Stars | Rondo, Bradley, Faverani sit out practice | Video: The Crossover – Jeff Green | CSNNE: Sullinger, Olynyk Rising Stars teammates | Stevens, C’s teammates praise addition of Johnson | Barkley likes what C’s are doing | Rondo (soreness), Bradley (ankle) miss practice | WEEI: As Celtics head towards lottery, here’s a look at the top prospects