Dallas’ blueprint for corralling Rajon Rondo

Leave a comment

Rajon Rondo is playing so well — assisting on half of his team’s baskets when he is on the floor, pitching in 10.8 points per game, playing great defense — that his name is mentioned in early MVP talks.

It’s far too premature to talk about that, but Rondo has been amazing at adapting to the “lay off him and dare him to shoot” defense that the Lakers used in the finals. This season Rondo has used that space to see the floor better, attack and make passes. He has turned that space given him against teams.

But in a fantastic post at the amazing NBA Playbook, Sebastian Pruiti notes that Dallas may have put together the blueprint to stopping him. (Really, you need to read this blog every day, some of the smartest breakdowns on the Web). Rondo had 15 assists and 11 points, but Boston struggled on offense, with a just 95.6 points per 100 possessions pace.

Dallas sagged off him, but that was just half the game — they also chased shooters hard around picks and on cuts. Rondo has used the space given him to see the floor better and pick teams apart, like a quarterback with time in the pocket, but Dallas blanketed his receivers.

They also kept Rondo from penetrating into the lane.

The Mavericks really made an effort to keep Rondo out of the lane in the half court, and they were very effective in doing so.  Rondo’s two makes at the rim came in transition, and in addition to his 4 shots at the rim, Rondo took 11 shots from elsewhere on the court (including 6 attempts from 16-23 feet).

They did that by switching screens, by having a team effort focused on him. They did give up Rondo a pass back — if he got in deep they let him pass back out to the elbow area and rotated, but they didn’t let him just have the layup. Let him pass the ball farther away from the basket.

It should be noted that the very deep and athletic Mavericks have the personnel to do this, where very few other teams do. But you may see variations of this strategy on Rondo going forward.

Looks like Donovan to keep Andre Roberson, Steven Adams as starters

Los Angeles Clippers v Oklahoma City Thunder
Leave a comment

Billy Donovan was given the head coaching job in Oklahoma City to bring their offense into modern times — and it seems to be working, Russell Westbrook said he feels a lot more space in the system.

But if the Thunder are going to contend for a title, they need a top 10 defense as well — and to do that Donovan is going to keep a Scott Brooks move and continue to start  Andre Roberson and Steven Adams. Check out the starting lineup for their first preseason game Wednesday.

There also was this report via Anthony Slater in the Oklahoman yesterday about a scrimmage at practice.

Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and Andre Roberson all started for the White team. Nick Collison joined them, but that was only because Steven Adams sat out with back soreness….

Donovan said the teams weren’t split by accident. That’s how they’ve been divided in practice. So at this point, it seems Roberson is this team’s starting shooting guard and Adams is the team’s starting center.

This is the smart move. Last season the lineup of Westbrook, Roberson, Durant, Ibaka and Adams was +13.4 points per 100 possessions over their opponents. Roberson and Adams are there for defense — neither brings much offensive game to the floor, but when you have Westbrook and Durant and only one ball between them, you don’t need more offensive threats. You’re going to get plenty of points.

If they can just stay healthy, Oklahoma City is a team to be feared.

Knicks’ legend Harry Gallatin passes away at age 88

Harry Gallatin
Leave a comment

The Hall of Fame player behind the original iron man streak is with us no more.

Knicks’ legend Harry Gallatin passes away at age 88, the team confirmed Wednesday.

Gallatin led the Knicks of the late 1940s and into the 1950s, when he set a then record playing in 610 consecutive games. Nicknamed “The Horse,” he was a beast on the boards who averaged 15.3 rebounds a game one season and averaged 11.9 boards and 13 points per game over the course of his 10-year career. He’s still fourth all time in total rebounds in Knicks franchise history.

Gallatin was a seven-time All-Star and twice All-NBA selection. After his playing days, he spent many years as the athletic director at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Our thoughts are with his family and friends.