Rondo simply has the ball in his hands too often. During the fourth quarter, he has fallen into his old habits of walking the ball up the court and not initiating the offense earlier in the shot clock."[The Celtics are, up 10 points] and we walk the ball up the floor. We don't make the defense really play; we don't make a move," said Tommy Heinsohn. "[The other team] stands there, they look at you, and they think they've accomplished something. They're going to be the more aggressive team from there. You've got to bring the ball up and keep them on their heels. You can't let them stand up and take a deep breath if you're gonna win the game in the last quarter."Heinsohn continued, "They've got to change the habit of finishing games the way they're finishing games. You've got to play as a team at that point and make the entire other team play defense, not just one or two guys -- five guys! If you only make them play defense for six seconds, they win!"
Heinsohn is only saying something that both Haters and admirers of Rondo have been saying for a long time.
During the Big Three era, Rondo got into the habit of walking the ball up all the time, allowing the defense to set, even forswearing opportunities to fast break. He truly must break this habit. Part of what's involved seems to be Rondo's idea that playing pg is like playing qb in football. While it's a good insight (one that I've argued Doug Flutie had in reverse), it's not literally true! Football and basketball are very different games. Football is all about precise execution of set plays that are typically over in seconds. Basketball is a game that involves creativity and evolving dynamics.
I think that the article in which the Heinsohn quote appears is confusing two things, though. It seems to conflate Rondo slowing the ball down with Rondo controlling the ball too much. There may be some correlation between the two things, but the difference is important. It's important to keep the ball in Rondo's hands. Not only is Rondo an absolutely brilliant playmaker, better now than ever, but defenses give him ridiculous amounts of attention. Taking the ball out of his hands is the last thing we need to be doing.
I can't help but wonder, too, how much Rondo is in on the tank. I get the impression that Rondo has been very artfully playing entertaining basketball that ultimately loses. No one knows better than him how pointless winning games is now, or how valuable it could be at this point to play well and then lose. A passer needs someone to pass to.
Speaking of which, Sully and Rondo, and Bradley too, seem to be developing some inspired chemistry on the offensive end. Even Green is getting in on the act. These guys are starting to feel each other. I'm thinking of many plays last night, such as one where Rondo waited on the baseline, baiting the defense into paying attention to him (as they so often do). Bradley picked up on the cue and cut to the basket along the opposite baseline. Rondo whipped a pass to Bradley, but to get to him, it had to fly past Sully, who had pretty good post position. Sully put his hands up to grab the pass, but desisted, apparently sensing that it was to a cutter. This not only allowed the pass to get to Bradley, but it also helped freeze the defense's attention on the strong side. What a beautiful play. Despite the record, we really do have the makings of a wonderful team. Our main need seems to be for a starting big next to Sully.
I wonder if we can get that player in the draft. I think that Danny may expend some major assets in a trade, instead. I don't think what we need is a center. I'm no less convinced than ever that Sully can be a great center if he gains some strength, especially lower body strength. As Stevens has said, we need a rim protector, but that does not have to be a center. A pf with length and quickness could be a great compliment to Sully at the five.