Your Channel Is Bleeding
Couldn't let this ground go cold without saying one more thing about Rondo. Here's Kevin Pelton on Double R's Game 5, and how it compares to the Wilt/Oscar Night:
. In some ways, Rondo's controlled Game Five performance was as much a sign of maturity as his takeover of Game Four. He picked his spots, deferring to his teammates early and finding the perfect time to exert his will on the game. Rondo and Allen were both highly efficient, combining for 41 points on 27 shooting possessions.
That's a chunk from a paragraph, and as Kevin noted during the game, Rondo's plus/minus indicated that a surprising amount of the Celtics' assault came with him on the bench. However, I would like to compare this to something I wrote here back in March of 2007:
Rondo is like a thousand angry voices in one. This isn't a Kidd-like all-around consistency; I don't think anyone's projecting him as a consistent triple-double threat. Rondo's box scores read like a decent all-around player who relies on demonic possession to excel at any particular one. It's tempting to call these outbursts situational, but the overall pattern is one of provocative randomness. When the unpredictability becomes a predictable feature, you throw up your arms and run toward the light.
Wow, things were so much different then. Whatever, if you're crying for the past right now, read that Suns thing I did for today. It's both closer in tone to 2007 and about why change must come. But enough about me. I remember that, when I posted that thing on Rondo, someone laughed it off as a function of the C's ragged, insistent play. Also probably something about Rondo trying to do everything at once because there was no structure to suggest otherwise.
But looking back, those rookie lines seem like evidence not of skills, but of a single skill—the exact one Kevin describes above. Rondo falls back when he needs to, and asserts himself however the team needs him to. That can lead to all-out domination, or game-management, or some odd combination of the two. It's an advanced, aggressive version of the point guard instinct that somehow registers less impressively, and consistently, than master craftsmen like, say, Stockton or Steve Nash.
Rondo might well be a new kind of pure point guard, one marked not by his ability to set the terms but to adapt and adjust within the game situation. That may also be his greatest strength and his ultimate weakness, since you have to wonder how this strange skill fares once you take away support (note the word choice) from the likes of Garnett and Allen.
Update: Suns link is repaired.