Rajon Rondo, who averaged 20 points and 15.5 assists in Boston’s first two games against Cleveland, was held to 18 points and 8 assists tonight against the Cavs. Cleveland switched up its defense on Rondo in Game 3, sending the 6-foot-6-inch Anthony Parker to hound Rondo full-court.
“Obviously he was kind of picking us apart offensively,” Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said of Rondo, referring to the first two games of the series. “It was something [Parker] suggested. He said, ‘Let me pick him up, let me work the ball some.’ I said, ‘Great.'”
Parker harassed Rondo into a difficult shooting night: Rondo’s 18 points came on 17 shots. The point guard had difficulty getting the Celtics into their offense. As a team the Celtics shot 27 percent from the field in the first quarter.
As for containing Paul Pierce (4 for 15, 11 points in Game 3), Brown said the Cavs did not do anything special.
“We didn’t do anything special with Paul,” said Brown. “LeBron [James] has had that assignment for most of the series if not all of the series. When he catches it he’s doing a nice job of making him work. You’re not going to stop a guy like Paul Pierce. He’s an All-Star. He’s been here before many times over. You’ve just got to make him work. LeBron’s trying to make him work every time he touches the ball.”
The Cavs may not be doing anything special to contain Pierce, but James is a special defender. In the first two games of the series Pierce averaged 13.5 points on 33-percent shooting. He made 27-percent of his three-pointers in the first two games.
“It doesn’t matter what I do offensively individually,” said Pierce. “I could have scored 30 and we probably would have lost the game the way we played defense. The focus is not on me to score 20, 30 points. Obviously I definitely want to shoot the ball a lot better…But it’s not about one person. We played well the first two games and I still haven’t had a big game. It’s nothing I’m going to worry about. I know it’s going to come as the series goes along.”
James said he enjoyed the challenge of defending Pierce.
“It’s hard to stop a guy like Paul because he has so much to his game,” said James. “You just want to try and keep a body in front of him. If he goes up and shoots it, just try to contest. Stay down a lot on his pump fakes…he’s a really good player.”