Slowing down Rondo is the key versus the C’s

There are two equally important game initiatives the Suns must accomplish on Wednesday in order to have a good chance of beating the Eastern Conference-leading Boston Celtics.

For starters, the Suns’ guards MUST slow down Rajon Rondo in the open court.

Rondo has become an elite point guard in this league and is especially skilled at pushing the ball and either getting to the basket for a layup or a trip to the line or driving and dishing to Kevin Garnett or Kendrick Perkins for a dunk, short jumper or once again a trip to the charity stripe.

If the Suns’ guards can slide their feet and get in front of Rondo in the open floor, he will either have to settle for 12- to 15-footers on the break or dish to Ray Allen, Eddie House or a trailing Rasheed Wallace for threes or medium-range jump shots in transition or the half court.

That’s a lesson the Suns should have learned after Rondo’s dominant 32-point, 10-assist six-rebound performance last season in Phoenix that resulted in a 20-point Boston victory.

Did I mention this victory was accomplished without Kevin Garnett in the lineup?

It is also imperative for Phoenix to play excellent help defense, getting the ball out of Rondo’s hands both on the break and in the half court.

Rondo is extremely quick, but with Goran Dragic and Leandro Barbosa back in the lineup, the Suns have a few quick guards they can throw at Rondo on the defensive end.

Now, you might think it is crazy to leave a Hall of Fame bound guard like Ray Allen for an open three in order to stop Rondo but let’s take a closer look at the numbers.

If you take out the contributions of Paul Pierce, who will be out of the lineup Wednesday with an infected right knee, the Celtics would have the league’s WORST team shooting percentage from behind the arc.

Ray Allen himself is suffering through the worst three-point shooting season of his career at 35.4 percent.

Rasheed Wallace is far worse, connecting on a beyond anemic 28.9 percent from three, his worst clip since integrating the three ball into his repertoire earlier this decade.

This season he is hoisting just under five a game, which is great for opposing teams because not only does this more often than not mean a defensive rebound, it also limits the post-up opportunities for someone Hubie Brown calls one of the best post players in the game.

In fact, after winning nine road contests in a row, the C’s lost to both the Clippers and Warriors in their past two road games, losses in which Allen and Wallace were a combined 4-for-21 from long range (19.1 percent).

To quote the movie Knocked Up: “I mean, I’m not a mathematician.”  But I feel pretty confident in saying that’s not what Doc had in mind when Boston acquired Wallace from Detroit.

Rasheed and Ray’s long misses lead to long rebounds, which will let the Suns run and prevent the league’s toughest defensive team (yielding 96.3 points per 100 possessions) from grinding Phoenix out in the half court.

  • KJ Loyalist

    I wouldn’t assign Nash to Rondo at any point in the game. I’d slide Nash over to Allen and switch on the last screen if they’re running Allen through all of those “Reggie Miller” screens.

    On the other end I’d push Rondo with the 1-2 game of Nash / Richardson and get him in foul trouble.

    When Rondo sits, blitz them with Dragon and LB. We’re not 7 seconds or less anymore but it’s only right to take advantage of the damage done by the Clippers and Warriors.

  • Mike

    Give Rondo the Dudley special.

  • Steve

    Given Rondo some respect? I like it.

    Celtics fan here. I can tell you one thing, Nash will be covered by Rondo.

    Good luck. You guys are looking really good this year.

  • The Z. Man

    Jason Richardson is due for a disappointing game. With his inability to guard Rondo, he should find himself a comfortable seat.

    Rondo is fast but not as fast as the Brazilian Blur. Even without LB, Suns played good ball vs. Spurs and stopped Tony.

    With LB, Suns have even more options. Last year, I went to the game. They played on Rondo’s birthday. He was on fire. All of those long treys he made must have been birthday luck. This year, the Celts have neither birthday luck nor “The Truth.”

    MUST start and ALSO finish with LB. Let’s go SUNS!!!!

  • JD

    Hey Z. Man, he made one three you damn idiot.