There’s nothing new about Rajon Rondo being a triple double machine. It was a bit of a surprise when his 14th career triple-double wasn’t good enough for the win as the Boston Celtics lost to the Philadelphia 76ers, being the first time Rondo’s team loses when he puts up that impressive stat line.
Some games are about making open shots. This one went in the way of the Sixers, despite shooting a terrible 37.4% from the field. The Sixers aren’t a team that needs pretty numbers to cushion their wins. They just play hard on defense, force turnovers and keep on winning, despite playing without the player (Andrew Bynum) this team was supposed to built around.
The Celtics? Like Doc Rivers said, couldn’t make open shots. Paul Pierce did finish with 27 points, but he was only 9-24 from the field. Rajon Rondo may have finished with 16 points, 13 rebounds and 14 assists (averaging 12.9 this season), but he couldn’t hit the shots presented to him near the end, while going 0-2 from the line.
His stat line was extremely impressive because he was only the third player in NBA history to record 16-13-14 with 3 steals and 3 blocks. The others are Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. It was Rondo’s 10th triple double since the beginning of the 2010-2011 season, with the next player (LeBron James) having only 5. What might be the most remarkable thing about it is that it took him only three quarters to assemble. He finished the half with 4 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists, something which hasn’t happened in over 10 years.
Overtime games don’t need much dissecting. A shot here, a miss there. Evan Turner blew by Courtney Lee with 3.9 seconds left on the clock to hit the winning shot while off-balance. Rajon Rondo had a chance to win the game, but he slipped on his way to the final shot, and had quite an anti-climatic ending to another impressive game. With all of his virtues, having the game on the line and seeing Rajon Rondo trying to bury a game winning jumper isn’t the best thing for the Celtics, who have better finishers and shooters.
This fault is going to haunt Rondo for his entire career as long as he’s a starting point guard for a team that is thinking about the postseason and more. Triple doubles are impressive, but they don’t win games when you’re a point guard who can’t hit three pointers and despite being one of the hardest guys to stop when going to the basket hardly gets free throws and hardly makes them when he gets to the line. This song has been on repeat for quite some time, but while Rondo keeps improving his passing game, that one thing stopping him from becoming a complete player in terms of skills keeps staying out of reach.
While his teammates Garnett and Pierce will find it harder to stay dominant offensively, Rondo isn’t picking up the slack. He remains hesitant and confused when it’s up to him to make a game winning shot or anything close to that kind of importance. There are other players on this team who don’t mind taking it; Jason Terry for example. But no one can create for himself the way Rondo does. Too bad he can’t follow through.