Not long ago I wrote a post here called Rondo Still a Mystery , well, thanks to a great piece of writing by one estimable J-Mac of ESPN Sports we now know some of the answers, and the cloud of mystery begins to rise.
I have long called for Rondo to push the ball up, even after made baskets, to push the pace constantly, that is what makes the Celtics go, what leads to success, easy baskets in transition, trailing 3's from Ray & Paul, and easy jumpers for KG from the elbows or the baseline. Ball movement predicated on pushing the ball up before the defense gets set. Inside out ball movement, easy baskets for Rondo or kicking the ball out to a shooter.
It seems that now he gets it.
"His coach, his general manager and his teammates tried to coax him back on track. They all told him the same thing: When you push the ball, you are better and the team is better."
Yes! Yes! Yes!
Quoting Rondo, J-Mac: "The last 4-5 minutes of that game I kept pushing the tempo,'' he said. "Danny [Ainge] is always talking to me about that. Teams tend to relax a little at the end of games. They expect you to walk it up, so you can catch them off guard with a push, and a quick 3.
"If you do it right, it can change the outcome of the game.''
I do believe that Rondo now gets it.
He was hurting a bit, but I still believe it was not all physical.
"The main thing was we were losing,'' Rondo said. "And I felt the reason we were losing was because of me. I put a lot of pressure on myself. I wanted to finish the season well. That was the biggest concern for me, to find a way to get better, because we weren't playing well, or moving the ball, and that was on me.''
Rondo also had his little physical piccadillos which were no laughing matter at the time: the rest and recuperation did wonders for Rondo.
"I don't want to make excuses, but my body wasn't right,'' Rondo said. "It wasn't responding the way it always had. My game is speed, energy, and now you get a tweak in your ankle and that slows you down.
"My hands started hurting. It was almost like arthritis. Any little hit and they would just throb and throb. Then I had the plantar fasciitis, and that wouldn't go away, so you had all these nagging things that added up. I tried to play through it. Some days I did better than others.''
Push the pace!
Rondo has averaged 19 pts, 12 Ast and 7.3 rebounds in the playoffs so far.
There is no one on Miami who can guard him.
Expect the heat to sag off of Rondo: expect the Heat to pay a high price.
The song remains the same: As goes Rondo, so go the Celtics.
Rondo got his groove back. Go Rondo. Go Celtics.
Heat go down in flames.