Since getting tossed in the final minute of Game 1 for shoving referee Marc Davis. and suspended for Game 2, Rondo put a target on himself for the rest of the playoffs. But the tempestuous and flammable point guard has demonstrated what can happen when a 26-year-old All-Star decides to act his age and control his inner-child. The criticism of Rondo after his outburst at the tail end of the opener was no-brainer.
It's been a No. 9 lovefest all weekend. Equally justified. Also, amazing how there are no issues with the referees when the Celtics are leading 80-43 in the third quarter or hold a double-digit lead for the final 37 minutes. When you put yourself in a position to have the refs decide a game, especially in the NBA playoffs, you've often already lost.
Rondo nailed a triple-double in Game 3 Friday night when the Celtics needed it most (although he missed 15 of his 22 shots). He came back with an even-better performance in Boston's much-worse-than-it-looked 101-79 victory over Atlanta Sunday. Rondo had 20 points and 16 assists, shooting 8 for 11 from the floor and sinking a career-high two 3-pointers. He got the Celtics' offense moving in this series and continues to dominate his matchup with Jeff Teague. Thirteen of his assists came in the first half when the Hawks were competitive.
Rondo had begun the second half with his first three-pointer of the night. But Miller was incredulous that Kirk Hinrich fouled Rondo's three-point attempt with and the Celtics up 72-43 with 9:28 in the third quarter.
"Why?" Miller blurted after the whistle. "Other than the chair that I'm just sitting in, you should never guard or foul Rajon Rondo on a jump shot. I mean this chair may have a better jump shot than Rondo and you foul him on a three-point play?"
Sure, fouling anyone on the Celtics not named Ray Allen while he is shooting a three-pointer is borderline idiotic. And there have been nights this season when Reggie's chair was indeed better than Rondo from beyond the key. But this was during a game when he uncharacteristically only missed three shots.
At least he had better velocity than Clay Buchholz or more on the ball than Darnell McDonald.
Perhaps Reggie still hasn't gotten over this Boston moment:
Bittersweet for him, simply sweet for the rest of us.
Of course, Rondo promptly clanged the first free-throw attempt before making the next two.
Rondo rediscovered his long range with 1:19 left to play in the third quarter for his second three-pointer. That basket put Boston up 85-50 and broke a 3:10 Boston field goal drought.
It also brought this head-scratcher from Cheryl's little brother: "Looking at that jump shot from Rondo, I'm surprised he doesn't shoot more. He's got good rhythm."
Maybe Rondo caught a replay of Reggie from a few minutes earlier and was nervous about being shown up by that chair.
But Miller wasn't finished. During a timeout with 8:45 to play and the Celtics up 96-67 - Miller gave Rondo this shooting lesson.
"We saw Rondo when he had the basketball over there," Miller said during the aptly titled "Miller Time" segment. "Most shooters like to have the finger tips all on the basketball so the follow-through is easier on your wrist. Well, Rondo, see how he's palming the basketball right there? There's no daylight in there. He's just shooting it with all palms. And you shoot the basketball with fingertps and your wrist. So that would be my only suggestion. Which I'm sure Ray Allen, one of the greatest shooters of all time, has shown him in practice."
Miller then conceded that Rondo's follow-through had improved.
Rhythm and follow-through. Key words in this one.
Fourteen of Rondo's 20 points came via the jumper. "I've been working on my shot," Rondo told TNT's Tracy Wolfson after the game. "I took it tonight ... I was trying to get into my rhythm tonight. I got into my rhythm and made some shots."
And Rondo admitted to Wolfson that he had indeed worked on his follow-through. "Just not trying to hold it up. You know, seeing the ball through the rim. It went through for me tonight."
Wonder if Reggie has any advice for Adrian Gonzalez?
Miller did a good job of shutting up Spike Lee back in the day. And during the 2011 playoffs, Miller backed Rondo on his mega-flop against the Heat in Game 2, so it hasn't always been hate/constructive criticism.
Paul Pierce poured in 24 points Sunday while playing only 17 minutes and Kevin Garnett got to sit for more than 17 minutes. The Celtics should wrap this one up in Game 5 Tuesday at Philips Arena.
"We want to to finish things in Atlanta," Rondo added during his post-game press conference. "We need our rest."
Not to mention a few more shooting tips from Reggie Miller.
One other note, TNT showed presumptive GOP nominee and former Bay State governor Mitt Romney several times during the telecast. Had the Celtics lost this one there would have been no chance of him carrying Massachusetts.
(Three, two, one ... relax, it was a joke.)
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