Can anyone stop Rajon Rondo?
Rondo was playing at an elite level going in to the playoffs, closing out the regular season on a streak of 24 straight games with double digit assist totals, and finishing the year averaging 11.9 points and 11.7 assists per game. Yet unbelievably Rondo has been even better at the start of the playoffs – through four games, minus the one he missed due to suspension, Rondo is averaging 19 points and 13 assists, all career playoff highs. Things can change in an instant in the NBA, and while the Celtics are up 3-1 on Atlanta this series is far from over. However based on a three game sample Rondo sure looks unstoppable, and that makes the Celtics really scary.
The saying in Boston for years has been “as Rondo goes so go the Celtics.” Well Rondo is going and, unfortunately for the rest of the league, there doesn’t appear to be anyone left in the east who can slow him down. When Derek Rose got injured the one player who would pose a legitimate challenge for Rondo exited the playoffs. New Jersey’s Deron Williams has given Rondo problems before, but he and his Nets are on the golf course right now while Jay-Z and the Nets ownership group plan their move to Brooklyn. Milwaukee’s Brandon Jenning is also an awfully good player, but his Bucks missed out on the playoffs in the season’s final week, and he isn’t on Rondo’s level anyway.
Of the point guards left in the Eastern Conference Playoffs the one who has actually defended Rondo best is Atlanta’s Jeff Teague. While somewhat under the radar, overshadowed by other Atlanta stars like Joe Johnson and Josh Smith, Teague has turned into an very good point guard for the Hawks. He’s one of the few players in the league with quickness on Rondo’s level, and in their two regular season matchups he held the Celtic point guard to a miserable 7-30 shooting. Rondo still put up big numbers, recording a triple-double in Boston‘s April 11th win at the TD Garden, but Teague made him work for everything he got and forced into a bunch of bad shots. Teague has done his best to slow Rondo downin the playoffs, but through four games he really hasn’t had any success, and if and when the Celtics get past the Hawks it will only get easier for Rondo.