The Boston Celtics’ mercurial 6th-year PG Rajon Rondo has been the object of much debate and discussion throughout the 2011-2012 season. The former Kentucky Wildcat was the subject of multiple trade rumors (Chris Paul swap?) prior to the regular season and then again at the trade deadline in March.
Rondo played it cool as the talk and speculation swirled in sports-obsessed Boston. He can be aloof, and in this instance it served him well. GM Danny Ainge kept the veteran-laden Celtics team intact, and now they will attempt to make a third trip to the NBA Finals with Rondo at the 1.
The 3X All-Star has appeared in 78 postseason games in his brief career. Rondo excels in the playoffs both offensively and on the defensive end. In Boston’s first-round series victory over Atlanta, Rondo bettered his production in every significant stat when compared to the regular season. Rondo’s scoring output is up significantly from 11.9 ppg to 16.8 ppg, and his averages in FG%, 3pt FG% and rebounding all improved during the 16-squad test of toughness, endurance, nerves and will.
For all playoff teams, the core guys and stars spend more time on the court now that every minute of the 48 is critical. Rondo’s minutes are up 14%, but his turnovers and personal fouls are down. Rondo leads the NBA this postseason in dimes and swipes with 11.8 and 3.4 respectively. In the first round he had game highs of 20 points (twice), 16 dimes and 5 steals.
Rondo does sometimes make bad decisions in the heat of the moment. He was suspended for Game 2 for intentionally bumping a referee in Game 1 of the Hawks series. But when he came back for the third game, Rondo posted 17 points, 12 assists, 14 rebounds and 4 steals in the C’s win, bringing his career total of playoff triple-doubles to seven.
The Celtics have three future HOF’ers on their roster, but Rondo is the engine for their success and the catalyst in former PG Doc Rivers’ game plan. His penetration, distribution and clamp-down D give Boston a dynamic weapon against opponents of various styles and strengths. Look for him to elevate his already explosive game in the next round against historical foe Philly.