NBA Playoffs, Cavaliers Celtics Game 5: Rajon Rondo is going to think this is a hockey game

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Rondo_Cavs.jpgWe don’t know much about what the Cleveland Cavaliers have planned to stop the Rajon Rondo layup parade — none of their key players have spoken to the media for a couple days. Mike Brown has chosen not to tell the national media the details of his plans. Smart man.

But we can infer, from the words of the coaches and past actions. LeBron said after last game he wants a shot on Rondo, but it’s not so simple because that means Mo Williams has to cover Ray Allen or Paul Pierce and the Celtics will exploit that matchup. Maybe you want to dare the slumping Pierce to get hot, but your risk waking up the dragon with that one.

As John Krolik pointed out here yesterday, the Cavaliers need to do a much better job of shutting off the transition and early offense points Rondo gets. Take away the uncontested layups. That starts with keeping him off the boards — 18 rebounds? How do you let a guard do that? — because that fueled the transition points.

Put simply: Cleveland needs to put a body on Rondo. Bang him around a little. Make this a physical game. Whether that is LeBron or Anthony Parker or Big Z doesn’t matter.

Last game, Rondo just swooped in for his rebounds. He was not boxed out; nobody really gave him much thought. They will tonight. He will have bodies in his way an he will be leaping over people for his boards, not grabbing uncontested ones.

The Cavaliers should also shadow him down the court off misses, as opposed to letting him get up a full head of steam. Then get LeBron or a big man back to patrol the paint. No gimme layups.

Bottom line, Rondo is not going to find it so easy. He is going to get banged around like a pinball. There are risks for Cleveland with this, mostly foul trouble. Rondo will still drive and while it’s hard to draw the contact and sell foul on LeBron because of his strength, he only needs one or two calls. Then LeBron has to sit and… Cleveland doesn’t want that.

Still, don’t expect Rondo to have the same night. Somebody — and Pierce, we’re looking at you — has to step up and take on some of that scoring for Boston. One of the Big 3, because we can’t really expect 28 out of Kendrick Perkins, now can we?

Something’s gotta give in this one. We may have the best game of the playoffs here (Atlanta/Milwaukee Game 7 didn’t quite live up to the billing).

PBT Extra bold prediction: Is this Andrew Wiggins’ breakout season?

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Minnesota is going to be entertaining to watch this season. A healthy Ricky Rubio (hopefully) dishing at the point, Karl-Anthony Towns is already a high-IQ passer, and bench players such as Shabazz Muhammad and Adreian Payne have shown some skills.

Then there’s Andrew Wiggins. The reigning Rookie of the Year developed quickly last season — particularly his jump shot — and he should make a big leap this season. He’s going to dunk on people and end up in a lot of highlight packages while putting up a lot of points.

Enough to set the Minnesota Timberwolves single game scoring record, currently held at 52 by Mo Williams? That’s the question for this PBT Extra with Jenna Corrado.

Derrick Rose being back for start of season in question

Fred Hoiberg, Derrick Rose
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The Bulls have said Derrick Rose is about a week away from returning after suffering a facial fracture this preseason.

The start of the NBA season is two weeks from today (Oct. 27).

So Rose will be ready to go when the Bulls start their season that first night against Cleveland, right? Don’t bet on it, says Vincent Goodwill of, quoting coach Fred Hoiberg.

The opening night projection for a Derrick Rose return is a bit murky at this point, as the Bulls are taking a cautious approach to his recovery with Fred Hoiberg essentially ruling him out for the rest of the preseason.

“Most likely (out for the preseason),” Hoiberg said….

In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Rose sit out the first handful of games, as the Bulls start the season with a three-game in four-night stretch starting Oct. 27 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, which is in two weeks.

“That will be in consideration, sure,” Hoiberg said. “We gotta make sure, he really hasn’t done anything and that will be a good two or three weeks where he has total inactivity, so just to throw him back out there going 100 percent with his speed and everything, you just don’t want to take any risks, chances, where it could be a lingering issue.”

Just what TNT and the NBA hoped for with an opening night Bulls vs. Cavaliers showcase: Kirk Hinrich vs. Mo Williams. (Don’t forget Kyrie Irving will miss the start of the season recovering from his knee surgery.)

Of course, this is the smart play for the Bulls who need to be thinking about getting Rose fully healthy and focusing on what condition he will be come April 27, not Oct. 27.

And of course, a lot of Bulls fans who are down on Rose will slam him for this. Even though the injury was a freak accident and the team is right to be patient.

Rose could play opening night, if he gets back to practice next week and can get closer to basketball shape. But I wouldn’t bet on it.