Throughout his career, Rajon Rondo has repeatedly said that it is possible to learn by stepping away from the game. On the occasions when Rondo has been unable to play for the Boston Celtics, due to either suspensions or injury, he has often said that watching from the side lines allows him to see things clearer. Rondo is going to be away from the Celtics a lot in the coming months as he rehabs from knee surgery, however the Celtics have not imploded without their star point guard as many predicted they would. On the contrary Boston is 4-0 since Rondo's injury, with impressive wins over the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Clippers pulling them back above .500. Celtics fans all hope that Rondo makes a full and healthy return next season, but Celtics nation has to hope that when Rondo does return he will have learned something from his time away.
If Rondo has a fault (his critics will contend that he has way more than one) it is that he often thinks too much. His combination of court vision, speed, and ability to finish at the rim in strange ways make him a unique challenge for any defensive player. However often times he gets too caught up in "floor general" mode. He focuses too much on calling the perfect play and forgets about the simple fact that his man can't guard him. Captain Paul Pierce has actually been caught on film telling Rondo to "stop thinking so much." This is a problem that still afflicts Lebron James, and it is a tough habit to kick. However hopefully watching the Celtics win without him will finally get the message across.
The Celtics without Rondo have adopted a simplified offensive approach, one that has met with great success since the star point guard went down. When they secure a defensive rebound instead of looking for Rondo they simply throw the ball ahead to the man furthest up the court. They don't worry about getting into the right play or finding the correct matchup. They just attack. Contrary to popular belief they actually have a number of good transition players, notably Courtney Lee, Avery Bradley and Jeff Green, and the number of easy baskets generated has spiked significantly since adopting this approach.
Sadly despite their newfound strategy the Celtics still have a pretty low ceiling without Rondo. Their defense is generating stops and they are finding way more easy buckets. However when games stay close they really don't have a go to guy down the stretch. For years that man has been Paul Pierce but, despite his late game antics versus the Clippers, Celtics101 doesn't believe he can be that guy anymore. Right now the Celtics are winning the way the Denver Nuggets do. They get stops and they get out in transition for easy scores. However if they can't pull away, and the game stays close into the fourth quarter, they struggle. Rondo was showing signs of becoming that guy, for proof just look at his performances versus the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks. If he can learn from the Celtics' success without him, and keep things simple when he comes back, it is at least good news for next years.
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