O.J. Mayo said recently that Rajon Rondo is the player he’d most want to play with because of how he sets teammates up. During the Nuggets broadcast last night, Kenyon Martin came on for a while and during that time said that Rondo is a better point guard than Derrick Rose.
But Dallas didn’t fear Rondo Monday night.
When it came time for a chance for Boston to tie or win the game last night against Dallas, the Mavericks dared Rondo to shoot the ball. On the Celtics final play Paul Pierce set a screen for Rondo to force a switch — it worked, Shawn Marion was now on Rondo, Jason Kidd on Pierce, but those are matchups Dallas is fine with — then Dallas backed off, hedged other options and dared Rondo to shoot. Which is what the Lakers did in the finals last season, try to make Rondo the shooter.
It worked, Rondo’s three to win it clanged off the rim. Mavericks win.
The question is, was it a bad shot? Paul Pierce told the Boston Globe no, that’s a shot Rondo has to take.
“He’s wide open,’’ forward Paul Pierce said. “He was open two or three seconds before he even took it. We were begging him to shoot it. Hey, we’ll take that, a wide-open look. Rondo, he’s showed he can make those shots, especially under pressure situations. I take it. I told him after the game, I’ll take that shot.’’
As the Globe points out, what may be the biggest key is that nobody in the Celtics locker room criticized the shot — they wanted Rondo to take it. They can live with the miss, it was the best shot available. They know that down the line, in games that really matter this spring, they will need Rondo to take that shot with confidence.
This season Rondo has hit two of the five three-pointers he has taken, but that is one basically every other game. Rondo is averaging just shy of 10 shots per game, but he is getting half of those at the rim. His game is to drive and kick, to set up teammates because he is surrounded by scorers. He still prefers not to shoot unless he’s driving the lane.
The jumper remains a weakness, one seeming of confidence as much as accuracy, and one other teams will try to exploit. He is practicing and getting better at it — on long twos he is hitting 42 percent this season, up from 33 percent last season.
But if the issue is confidence, Rondo has to feel gook knowing he rest of the Celtics have his back. We’ll see, as the season moves on he’ll get many more chances to prove he has that shot down.