Rondo Continues To Be An Enigma

Rajon Rondo is a fascinating enigma.

At times, he’s transcendently brilliant—a throwback to a bygone era, where on-court vision and basketball I.Q. triumphed over size and strength.

Other times, he can be painfully frustrating—missing easy layups, passing up open shots, and doing his best impersonation of a sulking, moody teenager.

But Rondo is captivating to watch, in whichever incarnation you find him. He fixes butts on seats, glues eyes to television sets. At times he displays a confident Iverson-esque swagger, giving the impression that he can make the impossible possible, with his unique abilities.

Simply put, it’s hard to ignore him when he’s on the floor.

And no one was ignoring him last night—except maybe the Miami Heat defenders.

Last night’s Game 2 against the Heat, reemphasized what we’re all starting to realize about Rondo—he absolutely thrives on the biggest stage. Just check out his triple-double numbers when playing in front of a national audience—they’re outstanding.

Against a Heat team that was absolutely rolling, and looking to stick another nail in Boston’s postseason coffin, Rondo had the greatest game of his career.

He scored 44 points, shooting 16 of 24 from the field, while racking up 10 assists, and 8 rebounds. Even more startling was the fact that Rondo played every minute of the game. 53 in total! Rondo had only 3 turnovers in that time.

Rondo’s display ranks up there as one of the all-time great Celtics’ playoff performances—and there are plenty of those to choose from.

Of course, Rondo’s efforts were largely in vain. The Heat received big-time displays from their stars too, and some timely scoring from their bench. The backbreaking loss may prove to be the defining moment of the series for the Celtics.

Coming back from 0-2 down, against this Miami team, will be nearly impossible.

Whatever the impact on the series, however, the night belonged to Rondo. The basketball public was given a glimpse into a world where Rondo could be the greatest point guard alive.

Chris Broussard put it best during ESPN’s halftime show, when he said: “It’s the NBA’s worst nightmare: Rondo with a jump shot.”.

And he’s right. If Rondo can consistently knock down that 15-18 footer, watch out, world! Teams have become accustomed to giving Rondo space to shot, begging him to take that mid-range jumper, and willing to live with the consequences.

If Rondo can shoot even half as well as he did last night, on a regular basis, then he may just become un-guardable. Add a jump shot to a player that already has elite level basketball I.Q., athleticism, solid defense, rebounding, and unreal playmaking abilities, and we’re talking about a top-five player in the NBA.

This is all a massive ‘if’, of course. We may never see another shooting display like that from Rondo again. Even without a jump shot, his other elite attributes still make him a genuine all-star and top-5 point guard in this league—as well as being one of the most entertaining players to watch.

But boy, he could be so much more. We saw it yesterday and lets hope we see it again.

Bosh’s Absence Is Being Felt By Miami

The Miami Heat have only played two games without Chris Bosh, but already it’s become painfully clear the team has a Big Three, not a dynamic duo like many have joked the past two seasons.

This year Bosh was a starter on the All-Star team while posting less than impressive numbers with 18.0 points points and 7.9 boards. Both stats were well below the career averages that many journalists and fans feel were inflated due to his time playing for the Toronto Raptors.

Bosh’s critics were vocal in declaring that Miami doesn’t need his inflated salary and they would be better served moving him for some depth on the roster. However, those same critics have gotten silent after Bosh went down in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Miami had a dominant  95-86 win in Game 1 of this series but they have looked beatable since.

The shift in momentum started in Game 2 when Indiana escaped South Beach with a win after bullying Miami around in the paint and on the glass.

The Pacers outrebounded the Heat 50-40 in Game 2 after Miami won the war on the glass 45-38 in Game 1.

Points in the paint were even at 38 in Game 2, but many of Miami’s interior points came from drives by LeBron James and Dwyane Wade which skewed this number a bit. This is a stark contrast to the Miami’s noticeable 52-40 advantage in Game 1.

Plus, the three “bigs” Miami played – Udonis Haslem, Ronny Turiaf and Joel Anthony – combined to score seven points. Yuck.

LeBron James admitted it was “taxing” to play power forward in Game 2 and things didn’t get much better in Game 3.

Things got off to a rough start when Dexter Pittman got the first start in the playoffs during his career.  Pittman was inserted into the game with the intent on muscling Roy Hibbert away from the bucket and the glass. That plan didn’t work out as Erik Spoelstra had planned as Indiana raced out to a 9-2 lead and Miami while Miami started the game shooting an abysmal 1-11 from the field. Pittman played the first three minutes of the game and didn’t see the court again the remainder of the game.

Hibbert started 4-4 from the field and scored eight points, grabbed five boards and swatted two shots in the first quarter alone. He finished with 19 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks. Miami clearly has no answer for Hibbert and that isn’t likely to change looking at how their roster is constructed.

While it may not show up in the stat sheet, David West did a brilliant job of taking James out of the game. James had 16 points in the first half while going 7-13 from the field. The second half, however, was a completely different story. James seemed to fatigue after being constantly bumped and elbowed by David West in the paint and he went 3-9 from the field to finish with 22 points. There were a couple of times West tossed James to the floor in the lane, and Danny Granger got in the James’ face after a foul on a breakaway where he tugged on Superman’s cape.

With James being slowed in the second half by the bruising play of West, Miami needed Wade to step up in a big way. Instead, Wade pulled a disappearing act and started the game 1-11 from the field and was held scoreless at the half. He looked listless and uninspired unless he was seen arguing with his head coach.

Instead of attacking the paint like he is known for, Wade seemed content to settle for perimeter jumpers and finished the game 2-13 from the field with only five points.

Bosh only had 13 points and five rebounds in 16 minutes of burn in Game 1 before leaving the game with his injury. Again, those aren’t flashy numbers, but this series is showing Bosh’s biggest impact isn’t always in the stat sheet.

It’s a shame some basketball fans and members of the media aren’t willing to give Bosh the credit he deserves.

Podcast: And Then There Were Eight

Mark and McNeill jumped on the mic to break down the NBA Conference Semifinals. Some of the topics include the impact Chris Bosh’s abdominal injury will have in the Miami Heat, Kevin Garnett jumping into his Delorian, the Lakers not playing with any passion and the epic roll the Spurs find themselves on.

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Podcast: 2012 NBA Playoffs Preview

After nearly a year, the Hoops Addict Podcast is back on a regular basis. I’ve linked up with Mark Cheel with the intention of bringing back the Podcast on a weekly basis and we started with a preview of the 2012 NBA Playoffs.

Mark and I break down why Atlanta can give Boston a scare, we debate if Utah’s frontcourt can muscle San Antonio out of the playoffs, we lament that the Clippers lack of a strong coach will result in Blake Griffin and Chris Paul not lasting as long as they should in the playoffs as well as the rest of the first round match-ups.

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Here’s the MP3 of the Podcast if you want to download it.