I've been holding off on posting this piece for a few days, mostly to let the dust settle after the Celtics last couple of games, but also to digest what various members of Gang Green have had to say about themselves and the team. What I'm hearing is this: age will occasionally be a factor this season (when lots of games are played over a short period), and so will motivation (because the playoffs don't start for a long time). Both problems will manifest themselves in sluggish performances, which, in turn, will mean a few losses here and there.
Whatever. I've only got two regular season games circled on my calendar, and my only other goal is to stay healthy. Well, I do have one other goal, and I'd say it's kind of important. I want Rajon Rondo to start playing like he's D.Wade.
Some of you, no doubt, will reply that this is the most ridiculous thing I've written, and given the number of ridiculous things I've posted on this site, that would take some doing. But I like this idea. Really.
Sure, Rajon Rondo can't shoot very well from outside, and D.Wade can. I'm not denying this. But, you know, Rajon does shoot well from outside occasionally, and when he does, he should shoot even more. Even when he's suffering a poor shooting night, I want him to stay aggressive on the offensive end. Rondo may not be a shooter, but he's definitely a scorer, a scorer who's shooting .594 for the year. Rondo should start each game thinking that he needs to wreak havoc on both ends of the floor. On offense this means, driving the lane, crashing the boards, and moving without the ball.
Rondo should presume the Celtics need the maximum possible effort from him every game. If we take a huge lead in the first quarter, he can ease off the accelerator a bit. But if Rondo playing the instigator and the igniter are the only things separating the Celtics from another lethargic performance in which we fall behind early and play ugly-ball for three and a half quarters before attempting to steal victory from the jaws of defeat, then Rondo needs to be prepared to put it into overdrive from the git-go.
A couple of potential problems I see with my idea.
OBJECTION #1: The starters won't be able to keep up with Rondo for four quarters. Possible. Three of the starters are getting long in tooth. On the other hand, Rondo's elevated level of play might just energize the senior members, which is exactly the outcome I want.
OBJECTION #2: Rondo might wear himself out before the playoffs. At age 23 and in the best physical condition of his career, Rondo should be ready to go balls to the walls for a good 36 minutes every night. No need to pace himself, a la Paul Pierce.
The one thing I do know for sure is that Rondo has a good-sized ego, and one way to placate it is by performing like an All-Star as frequently as possible. So Rondo should welcome the opportunity to kick it up a notch, unless, of course, he doesn't have another gear, which brings me to the next possible problem with my idea.
OBJECTION #3: Rondo can't play in another gear consistently. His stellar play only comes in fits and spurts. I'm not buying this retort. From what I've gathered, the only thing holding back Rondo is Rondo. He gets a little too down on himself when things aren't going well, and thereby takes himself out of a leading role during important junctures of important games or during important junctures of unimportant games.
Rondo seems to me the classic superstar, a player who can turn it on at will. If anything, Rondo appears to struggle attempting to conform his greatness to the team concept. I don't think we'll have to wonder about this too long, though, as I expect to see more and more of Rondo asserting himself as November turns to December, and Doc finds that as Rondo goes so goes the team.
I'm looking forward to it.