June 1, 2010
I think this series comes down to the health of Rajon Rondo. Derek Fisher and the Lakers have struggled all season (and post-season) defending the point guard position. First it was Russel Westbrook, then Deron Williams and most recently Steve Nash and Goran Dragic.
Orlando seemed to figure out how to neutralize Rondo by forcing the Celtics into a half court set filled with Paul Pierce isolations, but barring Rondo’s hip and back seriously being injured I think Rondo is primed to win this series by himself. Against Oklahoma Kobe decided to guard Westbrook, but think about Kobe doing that vs the C’s…that would leave Ray Allen running circles around Fisher. Remember how badly Allen torched Sasha Vujacic in ’08?
Lakers fans and the “experts” keep pointing to the improvement and new-found toughness in Pau Gasol’s game as what could be the deciding factor for the Lakers this time around. I don’t see that happening though, mainly because of Andrew Bynum’s poor play since injuring his knee. During the regular season Bynum allowed Gasol to showcase his skill set, but that won’t happen vs a physical Celtics front line. That means Gasol is going to have to play more at the center position alongside Lamar Odom at power forward (who will be worried about how the Boston fans are treating Khloe Kardashian)…In that situation I would take Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett and Big Baby’s toughness and physical play in a 7-game series.
May 25, 2010
While the Boston Celtics have flat-out dominated the Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals they were caught off guard last night when the Magic decided to show up. Sitting in the stands I got to listen to a man say, “he’s pretty good” while watching Jameer Nelson put up 23 points including two clutch 3’s in overtime (no, he didn’t call glass). I guess it was easy for everyone to forget that the defending Eastern Conference champs posted 59 wins this season and take the series for granted with a 3-0 lead.
The Magic had a great gameplan although I’m sure three points from Vince Carter was not part of it. The Celtics struggled to push the tempo and the Magic did a great job defensively in transition. This forced the C’s into a lot of isolation sets and limited the ball movement that is such a huge part of the offense. On top of that the Magic effectively set high screens for Nelson confusing Rondo and creating mismatches for Dwight Howard who finally lived up to his image. Howard controlled the glass on both ends and made you forget his eight missed FT’s.
It will be impressive for the C’s to end the series in Orlando, but I think the Magic force a Game 6 back in Boston. With that said the C’s have never gone to six games or more when holding a 3-0 series lead.
November 4, 2009
Celtics PG Rajon Rondo looking to earn every penny of his new 5 year $55 million contract
The Boston Celtics are off to a 5-0 start looking to surpass last season’s 27-2 record, but more importantly finish the way they finished in 2008…with another title. The Boston Globe is already starting the 72-10 talk, and if healthy it might be hard to argue.
On the first night of a road back-to-back to the Celtics faced one of the hottest offenses in the NBA and absolutely shut down the Sixers. Even the greatest 3-point shooter in the history of the NBA (statistically at least…just ahead of Steve Kerr and Hubert Davis), Jason Kapono, couldn’t help the Sixers shoot above 40% or break 80 points. Point guard Rajon Rondo took his new contract and closed out the first quarter by putting the C’s up 19-17 with this sick out-of-bounds shot. The reserves came in and that was the end of that game.
The Celtics were able to rest their big men Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins, which should bode well tonight in Minnesota going up against former Celtic Al Jefferson. Rasheed Wallace continued to shoot nothing but 3’s draining 6-8 and finishing with 20 points in his hometown. Marquis Daniels continues to play smart basketball and penetrate while Shelden Williams has to be the biggest surprise of the young season. The former lottery and husband of Candace Parker is showing flashes as to why he was given the nickname the Landlord.
The three things Celtics fans have to really enjoy outside of the wins, which of course are most important, are how the Celtics lock down defensively, move the ball on offense and are so deep that Doc can limit the starters minutes and hopefully keep them as fresh as possible as the season goes on. The Celtics racked up 27 assists on 41 fg’s last night and limited yet another team to under 40% shooting for the 4th time in 5 games.
November 2, 2009
Danny Ainge Gets Rondo'd!
Rajon Rondo’s new deal with the Celtics will apparently pay him 5 years for $55 million placing him as the 8th highest paid point guard (tied with Monta Ellis). I have been very vocal about how in the modern era point guards are not the first piece to build a team around. Think about it…last year how far did the Hornets go? Suns? Jazz? The list goes on and on. Read the article linked above if you disagree! So signing a point guard as the “future” of the franchise should obviously upset me right? Long term deal for big money as the so-called Big Three start to hit the backside of their career.
Well, you’d be wrong. The Rajon Rondo signing was necessary and a smart move. Celtics GM Danny Ainge reportedly was offering 5 years $45 million but Rondo’s camp would not budge. In all honesty at that point what’s another $10 million over 5 years? Rondo was huge last year in the playoffs almost averaging a triple-double as the team lacked firepower with KG sidelined. Rondo is only 23 and has improved as a player every season. People look at his lack of scoring (still no jumpshot) but forget to focus on what he does best. Rondo is a pure, old-school point guard who plays solid defense with his long wingspan, rebounds and distributes the ball like very few. Plus his turnovers are also kept a minimum which is something Jason Kidd has never done as he’s always been referred to as a high-risk/high-reward type of player. With Rondo what’s the risk?
I agree that as the Big Three starts to decline it will be tough for Rondo to carry a team on his own. But would you really forfeit the shot at winning a title this year and next year just because Rondo should only be paid $45 million instead of $55 million? What’s the upside of not reaching a deal right now because of $10 million? After this season he would have become a restricted free agent in an offseason where teams have piled up money to throw at anyone they think could make their team better. If some team misses on the big names like LeBron, Wade, Bosh, etc then what’s to prevent them from throwing more than $11 million/year at a young point guard like Rajon Rondo. I think Boston will always have a tough time attracting premier free agents unless they are able to build a culture of winning, which is what they are currently trying to. Plus you have to add to the talent you have not subtract pieces. It’s likely that Ray Allen will retire or head elsewhere in free agency after this season so could you actually picture this team without Rondo as well? Ainge has his work cut out for him to make this transition as seamless as possible, but for now this move was necessary.
While it’s still early in the season Rondo trails only Steve Nash in assists/game , however Rondo’s assist/turnover ratio is insane. Plus Rondo also racks up the steals currently trailing only Kobe in steals/game. So, again, tell me, where’s the risk in this signing? A 23-year-old point guard who has improved on the court every season, won a title, almost averaged a triple-double last post season and focuses solely on getting his teammates involved instead of himself…what is there not to like? Let’s hope the rest of the league continues to get Rondo’d.