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EST. 2011

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"IN RONDO WE TRUST"

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Rondology: Aggression

Posted by paul on December 27, 2011 at 9:50 AM


Doc said that Rondo was the aggressor against the Knicks, and that that was a role the team wants Rondo to play on a regular basis.   Rondo, characteristically, demurred, downplaying his role in Sunday's game, portraying himself as just a cog in Doc Rivers' tool chest.   The apparent gap between Rivers' words and Rondo's words is worrying.   Rondo's mood seems to fluctuate at times between brash confidence and self-doubt, and our season depends largely on his ability to keep  his personal emotional guage somewhere in the middle.  There's a time to be bashful, and this isn't it.


As I saw last year's playoff series between the Celtics and the Heat, the key turning point in favor of the Celtics came just before halftime of the second game.  Many Celtic fans will remember the contretemps between Rondo and Rivers during a timeout.  Most remember Rondo walking angrily away from the team's huddle, and Paul Pierce chasing after him to calm him down.  What few seem to remember is that Rondo adopted a completely new attitude on the floor after that huddle, attacking the Heat relentlessly.  He continued to do this in the third quarter, and led the Celtics back, much as he did against the Knicks on Sunday.  The Celtics lost that game, because they went soft in the 4th quarter (something we've seen all too often).  Also, Rivers gave Rondo a breather early in the 4th quarter of that game, and didn't let him back into the game for five minutes, even though Rondo had long since finished stretching out, and was obviously biting to get back in after just a couple of minutes.  By the time Rondo got back into the game, it was lost.  I feel certain that this sideline drama between Rondo and Rivers was what led to the bottle throwing incident at the film session the next day.  These are two stubborn and proud men, who often don't see things the same way, and who clearly struggle over authority.  Rondo, as has often been said, is really a coach on the floor in many ways.    It is important that he and Rivers work hard at communicating more successfully this season.  Theirs will always be a contentious and heated relationship.  They can make this work for them, and for the team, instead of the other way around.


What Rondo showed in that series is what they need to remember tonight.  Yes, the Heat are far and away the favorites to win the title this year.  Yes, their skill and sheer athleticism is downright scary, and this year they seem hungry, focused and motivated.  They come like a forest fire, and they make other teams feel like a field of harvest-ready wheat in the path.  But you have to fight fire with fire.   To have any chance of holding their own against the Heat, or of even prevailing, the Celtics need to attack, and they need to keep doing it even when there are setbacks, as there inevitably will be.  The Heat are not the Knicks, but we don't have to start games soft and finish soft, as we did against the Knicks on Sunday, and as we too often did against the Heat in the playoffs last year.  If Rivers and Rondo can figure out how to communicate better, without taming their relationship, the league, including the Heat may have to face a season of Rondo Unleashed.  If that happens, and if these New Celtics (it's not the "Big Three" Celtics anymore, even though the Big Three are still there, still formidable) gel around the Rivers/Rondo rapport, especially newcomers like Brandon Bass, this really could be an exciting season.  

Whether we win or lose tonight, what matters most is whether we, led by Rondo, play aggressive basketball, refusing to break down, or back down, under the hammer blows we know Lebron and Wade will deal out to us.



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9 Comments

Reply Franklin
12:05 PM on December 27, 2011 
They come like a forest fire, and they make other teams feel like a field of harvest-ready wheat in the path. But you have to fight fire with fire.

Love that line. Tonight it's not about the win. With Pierce out you don't know what to expect..
Reply Celtics#1Fan
12:32 PM on December 27, 2011 
I love Rondo. I'm glad we still have him. I have one problem with him, though, and it's this: He still is not aggressive in looking to penetrate or score in the last 4-5 minutes of the game. I'm not sure where this is coming from. It's one of two things: He doesn't trust himself to shoot, or his free throw shooting, in the closing minutes. I don't know why. His technique looks solid to me. I have trust and confidence in him. But I know my opinion doesn't matter. He has to trust himself.

The other issue might be that he feels the need to defer to Pierce, Allen, and Garnett. If that's the case, then there needs to be a passing of the torch to this being Rondo's team now. It is. While I absolutely, positively HATE using the Lakers as an example, the way LA restructured their team in 1987 and made it Magic's team, and Magic the go-to guy, is what we need to do now, and make Rondo the man, and have the other 3 defer to him. And Rondo has to want it, and that includes scoring the ball. Because when he wants it, Rondo is almost impossible to stop.
Reply shawn cassidy
12:38 PM on December 27, 2011 
Franklin says...
They come like a forest fire, and they make other teams feel like a field of harvest-ready wheat in the path. But you have to fight fire with fire.

Love that line. Tonight it's not about the win. With Pierce out you don't know what to expect..


I love that line also. Rondo looked different Sunday. With his shot going down,and his free throws going down,and with everything else he does going for him. He looked like a freak from out of this world. If James is a physical freak. Then Rondo is smart cunning freak.
Reply paul
12:56 PM on December 27, 2011 
Franklin says...
They come like a forest fire, and they make other teams feel like a field of harvest-ready wheat in the path. But you have to fight fire with fire.

Love that line. Tonight it's not about the win. With Pierce out you don't know what to expect..


Thanks, Franklin. I agree that the win is not the most important thing. The Heat are a team in full roar, whereas we are a team searching for its identity. But WE CAN WIN too!
Reply paul
1:03 PM on December 27, 2011 
shawn cassidy says...
I love that line also. Rondo looked different Sunday. With his shot going down,and his free throws going down,and with everything else he does going for him. He looked like a freak from out of this world. If James is a physical freak. Then Rondo is smart cunning freak.


So beautifully put, Shawn. Yes, that truly is the difference between James and Rondo. Of course, James is plenty smart, and Rondo is a physical freak in his own way, but even so, the distinction is between physical brilliance and mental brilliance. Rondo needs to put all that to work. So what if Lebron blocks your shot from behind? Come back again with another move. You have more moves than he can even think of. Use them all.

And Rondo, do NOT listen to those who complain about your flash. Your flash is essential to your game. A lot of folks just don't get it. Remember Luis Tiante? Remember the weird way he jiggled when he pitched? That was an essential part of his game. It distracted and fooled people. Rondo's got that, the camouflage aspect of flash, but he has a lot more; the ability to make plays that others don't expect and wouldn't even have thought of. That's why we invented the verb being "rondo'd".

I honestly don't think that Rondo's shots are just going down better. I think his shooting motion is really a lot better. I saw a blog recently where a guy claimed that Rondo has been working on his shot all summer. I don't know where the writer got that information from, but it looks like he really did do that.
Reply paul
1:09 PM on December 27, 2011 
Celtics#1Fan says...
I love Rondo. I'm glad we still have him. I have one problem with him, though, and it's this: He still is not aggressive in looking to penetrate or score in the last 4-5 minutes of the game. I'm not sure where this is coming from. It's one of two things: He doesn't trust himself to shoot, or his free throw shooting, in the closing minutes. I don't know why. His technique looks solid to me. I have trust and confidence in him. But I know my opinion doesn't matter. He has to trust himself.

The other issue might be that he feels the need to defer to Pierce, Allen, and Garnett. If that's the case, then there needs to be a passing of the torch to this being Rondo's team now. It is. While I absolutely, positively HATE using the Lakers as an example, the way LA restructured their team in 1987 and made it Magic's team, and Magic the go-to guy, is what we need to do now, and make Rondo the man, and have the other 3 defer to him. And Rondo has to want it, and that includes scoring the ball. Because when he wants it, Rondo is almost impossible to stop.



I agree with you so strongly about this. Rondo has to stop deferring, especially in crunch time. Of course, he should continue to be primarily a facilitator, but I think that the root reason for the way our offense stalls out is that there has been a lack of clarity about who really is the lead guy. We need Rondo to assert himself in this capacity all game long.

I've thought of Magic too in this connection. Magic had to struggle at times to establish himself as the main guy. It wasn't necessarily just handed to him, and the transitions weren't always easy to make.
Reply paul
2:54 PM on December 27, 2011 
Nice article on Rondo:

http://www.slamonline.com/online/nba/2011/12/rajon-rondo-phone-ho
me/comment-page-1/#comment-1995999
Reply GeeZeeCeltics
3:24 PM on December 27, 2011 
Awesome post.
Also, I halfway expect Rondo to have a triple-double night. Above all, he just needs to be aggressive, as many of you pointed out. That will be the thing by which we already could predict our season to an extent. Aggressive Rondo = successful Boston.
Reply paul
3:36 PM on December 27, 2011 
GeeZeeCeltics says...
Awesome post.
Also, I halfway expect Rondo to have a triple-double night. Above all, he just needs to be aggressive, as many of you pointed out. That will be the thing by which we already could predict our season to an extent. Aggressive Rondo = successful Boston.



It's funny, GeeZee, but I don't feel at all discouraged by the loss Sunday. In fact, I feel great. Two of the biggest questions we have for this season got answers - would Rondo Rise, and would anyone on the bench rise. And the thing is, neither performance (Rondo and Bass) looked like a mirage. It looked more like two players unleashed. I really think both guys will shine again tonight, especially Rondo.
I think he'll have an even better game tonight, because I think that this time he'll stay aggressive in the last quarter.

I don't think he'll back down from the challenge. I saw him trashtalking with Stoudemire during the Knicks game. You could see that it was friendly, but also that Stoudemire was trying to distract Rondo and intimidate him a little, and Rondo wasn't falling for it.