Monday, January 19, 2009

As Rondo Goes...

I don't think it's a stretch to say Rajon Rondo is among the three or four most important players in the league this year, in terms of determining which of the NBA's Big Four (and there are four, and only four) contenders takes the title. Because when Rondo asserts himself on offense like he did tonight, the Celtics are very tough to beat.

Rondo took 15 shots tonight, meeting my blog-imposed quota of at least 10 Rondo shots per game. Of note, six were jumpers from at least 15 feet, and Rondo made four of them. When he takes--and makes--those shots, the Celtics offense reaches a level no other player on the team can take it to on a regular basis. 

Other thoughts on a game I watched while stranded at Toronto's Pearson International Airport:

• You have to give it up to Baby for playing 23 solid minutes and working hard against Shaq. Against the right guys--slow-footed bigs--Baby can be a serviceable defensive player. On offense, ESPN's shot chart shows Baby was 3-for-7 on jumpers from beyond 15 feet and 1-for-3 close to the rim. More evidence that Baby is in danger of becoming a jump shooter, which is bad because a) he's shooting 28 percent on jumpers this year and b) he rarely gets to the foul line anymore because he's shooting so many jumpers. 

• Let's not go too crazy about this win. Phoenix was coming off a run-and-gun 117-113 win at Toronto, where the key players had to play heavy minutes. A quick check of the Suns schedule shows they are 4-6 in the second game of a back-t0-back this year. That's actually pretty decent, considering some of those losses have been in tough roadies (@ Utah, Dallas and the Lakers, for instance). On the other hand, its' the C's first win over a .500-plus team since Dec. 17 against Atlanta. 

• You know who I like on Phoenix? Matt Barnes. I'm not sure why. I guess I have a soft spot for guys who can shoot the three, handle the ball and play in transition. He also has a Posey-esque presence on the Phoenix bench. In the Toronto game the other day, he was hopping off the bench waving his towel for any borderline decent Suns play. He seems to make a big three every time I turn on a Suns game on TV. Throw in a 1-for-7 game against the Celtics, and Barnes has done just about everything possible to win me over.

• Bill Walker...You're officially on my radar. I'm watching, and I'm interested. Let's spend some more time together and see what develops, OK? 

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