Rondo: "I feel like I'm the best at what I do"

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Up until games four and five of the Magic series, Rajon Rondo had been absolutely dominating the 2010 Playoffs. He absolutely destroyed the 61-win Cavaliers with transition play, pick-and-roll action, pinpoint passes, and suffocating defense on Mo Williams; even though the Cavs had the MVP on their side, Rondo often looked like the best player on the floor. He hasn’t been quite as dominant against the Magic, but he’s still played like a superstar. Rondo was once considered the sidekick to Boston’s “Big Three” — more and more, it looks like the “Big Three” are the ones supporting Rondo.

SLAM Magazine’s Lang Whitaker has an absolutely fantastic interview with Rondo up, and he started it out by asking Rondo where he thinks he ranks amongst the league’s top point guards:
LW: So my question to you is, where do you think you rank?
RR: Me? I think I’m one. I feel like I’m the best at what I do. That’s just how I put it. That’s how I play. I love my match-ups against those three guys, every time I play against them. I’m biased, but I feel like I’m the best.

When healthy, nobody can match Chris Paul’s historic levels of production. Deron Williams is the point guard most likely to take a game over with his scoring. Steve Nash may be the most complete offensive player in basketball. But during these playoffs, with this Celtics team around him, it’s tough to find any player whose play has been on a higher level than Rondo’s, let alone any other point guard. If Rondo wants to be confident about his abilities, he’s certainly earned the right to be.

I highly recommend the rest of the interview, which covers Rondo’s boarding school experience at Oak Hill academy, why he stopped playing baseball, how he fits in with the Celtics, and how he didn’t start watching pro basketball until he got to college. 

Mavericks’ rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. misses game with knee swelling

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DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. missed Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings with swelling in his left knee.

Smith, the ninth pick in the NBA draft out of North Carolina State, had 16 points and 10 assists in the Mavericks’ season-opening loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Smith participated in the Mavericks’ shootaround on Friday morning and was a late scratch. It is not known if Smith will play Saturday for Dallas.

The Mavericks were also missing guard Devin Harris, who was granted leave of absence after his brother died on Thursday.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”