Rajon Rondo had 21 official shot attempts (plus was fouled enough to get to the line 16 more times). Of that, 14 of those shots came in the paint.
In game two, the Cavaliers did a good job of turning Rondo into a jump shooter — during the regular season his shot just 30 percent from 16 feet out to the arc, and just 21 percent on threes. He still is far from consistent from out there (and was 3 of 7 from 16 feet or more in Game 4).
Rondo is too quick to expect a guard to stop him on the perimeter, there has to be a big man in the paint to take away the easy shots, to contest the layups, to force the kickouts.
So where was Shaquille O’Neal? He played just 49 seconds of the fourth quarter (despite having 17 points and two blocks already). The Akron Beacon said LeBron James was asking that same question.
”Shaq played extremely well and I think it’s kind of surprising that we didn’t see him back on the floor the entire fourth quarter,” LeBron James said after the 97-87 loss.
Apparently O’Neal asked to come back into the game but never got the chance. He did not speak to the media after the game. Cavs coach Mike Brown wasn’t asked about O’Neal during his short postgame news conference.
There are a host of things the Cavaliers need to fix before a crucial game five, but figuring out how to make Rondo a jumpshooter again is at the top of the list. And Shaq may well be part of the answer. When he’s having a good game, you’ve got to play the man.