The Boston Celtics now improbably lead the 2010 NBA Finals 3-2 over their perpetual rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers. They can attribute their series lead primarily to a tenacious defensive effort, an energetic bench that features Shrek and Donkey, and to a lesser degree, the generally aging starting lineup.
In the various games, Boston has welcomed outstanding efforts from Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and, of course, Rajon Rondo.
Rondo has been a true magician for this team, bobbing in weaving in between opposing seven footers, making crisp pick-and-roll and alley-oop passes, and providing the pesky defense we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from the Kentucky alumnus.
One of the most important parts of Rondo’s game is his ability to run the break. It seems like in every game of the series, right out of the gate Rondo is charging down the floor in transition. He snags the long rebound, sprints down the floor, and finds one of his teammates for the easy layup or dunk.
But he makes it look much prettier than it is sometimes. On occassion, he’ll come charging down the floor and try to get too creative — he’ll thread a pass between defenders that has no chance, applying too much english, thereby making Ray Allen reach for the ball and miss catching in clearly; there goes the space for an open jumper.
This hasn’t happened just once. He has been a repeat offender over the course of the five games. In fact, in Sunday’s Game 5, Rondo had only eight assists but seven turnovers, most of which came on the break.
This poor decision making on the fast break shows two things about Rondo: first, that he’s trying to take his game to the next level by making more dangerous passes and (2) that he’s still young — he doesn’t yet have the discipline or the recognition to know when to hold off on that pass. In the coming years, that will come for Rondo.
Overall, it’s a good sign that he’s making this development because it looks an awful lot like what Steve Nash does. And Nash isn’t exactly careful with the ball, but he minimizes his mistakes while still taking risks. Clearly, Rondo is trying to imitate the master. And should he take the next step, he’s going to be very dangerous.
With the series’ shifting back to Los Angeles for the final two contests, Rondo needs to be careful. The Celtics’ winning is certainly no sure thing. And seven turnovers on fast breaks can be extremely catastrophic, considering the high field-goal percentage of transition attempts.
Rondo needs to contain his anxiousness and not blow those opportunities for his team. He needs to take his time and decide whether or not it is best to let go of that pass. If he can manage, he’ll have his second championship in only three years starting in the league.