Few people will dispute that Rajon Rondo is one of the top point guards in the NBA. He’s one of the top defenders and playmakers at his position, he’s a fierce competitor, and he has a well-deserved reputation as a player who elevates his game in the postseason. On the flip side, he’s a poor jump shooter and free throw shooter and he tends to defer to his teammates too often when scoring opportunities are presented to him. Considering his shooting woes, his reluctance to take open shots is somewhat understandable.

It’s significantly less easy to understand why he would pass up an open layup on a breakaway when the Celtics were down by a point with less than three minutes left in the fourth quarter against the Grizzlies last night. The Celtics failed to score on the ensuing possession and ended up losing 90-87 after Paul Pierce missed a buzzer-beater attempt that would have tied the game. If Rondo attempted that layup, he most likely would have either converted it or been sent to the free throw line. His brief confidence crisis arguably cost the Celtics a win that would have brought them to within a half-game of the Bulls at the top of the Eastern Conference.

There are a couple of possible explanations for why Rondo pulled up instead of trying to convert what should have been an easy basket. Perhaps he thought there was a Celtics trailer he could pass to, but he presumably noticed that Ray Allen had to dive to tap the ball to him. It’s more likely that he thought Tony Allen was going to catch him and block his shot, but why wouldn’t he attempt the layup anyway and possibly draw a foul?

If it was almost any other player in almost any other situation, I would probably shrug off this moment as a brain fart that can happen to any player. Because Rondo hasn’t been himself since his close friend Kendrick Perkins was traded last month (he averaged 11.0 points and 12.3 assists on 51 percent shooting before the trade and he’s averaged 7.6 points and 9.1 assists on 37 percent shooting since), Rondo’s slump could be caused by emotional concerns as much as the sprained pinkie finger in his right hand. If he’s not well enough mentally or physically to finish a breakaway layup that would give his team the lead late in the game, maybe it’s time to give him a brief rest — and a visit with a sports psychologist –  so he can get his body and mind right for the playoffs.

Comments (12)

  1. Wow, down 1 with 2+ minutes left in the game, open look at the rim…?!

  2. I know it’s only hearsay, but didn’t Doc Rivers’ kid beat him in a game of HORSE or something back in his rookie season? Does one ever come back from that?

    Of course my alternative hypothesis is that Rajon Rondo is a basketball version of the robot from Jeopardy, meticulously programmed to handle the rigours of life in the NBA, but unable to truly emulate real human reactions to unexpected circumstances.

    What a guy.

  3. Admittedly, I’ve never been a huge Rondo fan but I was really hoping that the C’s would grab Rondo for Deron Williams. Hell, if it looks like he won’t re-sign with NJ, I’d consider a sign-and-trade.

  4. Has Rondo dunked since he threw down on Bosh in November?

  5. A sports psychologist is EXACTLY what Rondo needs. He may not be a good shooter, but last year during the playoffs he was finishing acrobatic layups with confidence and hitting a bunch of Tony Parker-esque floaters in the lane. Now he won’t finish a fast break? Something’s not right, and I don’t think it’s his health.

  6. To be fair, “Doc Rivers’ kid” is now a 5 -star recruit set to play for Duke who also tore it up at the U-18 Worlds.

  7. I’m sorry but he’s clearly looking for a trailer here. Assist whoring once again. And I say this as a Boston fan.
    There would usually be a trailer at the point where he turns around but because Ray fell to the ground passing the ball up here there isn’t one so he ends up screwing the break up.
    I dont think I’ve seen Rondo score on a break this entire year, it’s horrible, especially in this position, down one, WTF Rondo. You can see he regrets it afterwards because he moves to go and score after pulling out originally, too little too late my man!

  8. Rondo isn’t scared to score, look at the last shot he took last night, easily could have called a timeout or passed it, he will just look to pass 99% of the time when there is an opportunity for an assist on a fast break.

  9. The last shot he did take only proved the point that he’s afraid to score or better yet, is lacking any confidence at all in his offensive game. That half-hearted-indecisive floater was not a good basketball play for an ‘elite’ point guard.

  10. Seriously, by far the most overrated player in the NBA.

  11. Well, when he has it going he’s worthy of his reputation, and I’m saying this as a Lakers fan…

  12. Carefoot sucks he really really sucks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *