Without a doubt the biggest x-factor for the Los Angeles Lakers as they’ve taken a 2-1 series lead over the Houston Rockets in the second round of the playoffs has been the play of veteran Rajon Rondo.
After a rough Game 1, which was his first game back since March, Rondo has been absolutely massive for the Lakers in the ensuing contests. Rondo showed off his defense in Game 2 with five steals, then his offense was the talk of Game 3 as he knocked down 8-of-11 shots from the field including, a trio of conversions from deep to finish with 21 points to go along with nine assists in the Lakers’ 112-102 win.
The back-to-back performances have revived the ‘Playoff Rondo’ moniker that arose during his time in Boston and was further cemented in 2018 while he was a member of the New Orleans Pelicans and playing alongside Anthony Davis.
Now with the Lakers, Rondo has seemingly shown that the idea of ‘Playoff Rondo’ may very well be real. However if you ask Rondo, he doesn’t subscribe to it, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“I don’t buy into it. You’re only as good as your coach believes in you. I’ve been able to get a little more minutes in the playoffs, but like I said, I can’t do it without my teammates. My teammates have been doing a helluva job of getting me the ball, getting me confidence, and coach has been calling plays for me. We’ve been able to get stops and get out on the break.”
Rondo not believing in this idea makes sense as it would be unlikely that he purposefully coasts during the regular season. But it also would be foolish to ignore the numbers over the years. Rondo averages 10.2 points, 8.3 assists, and 1.7 steals in the regular season for his career, but those numbers improve to 13.9 points, 9.3 assists and 1.9 steals in the playoffs.
In 2012 with Boston, he went from 11.9 points and 11.7 assists to 17.3 points and 11.9 assists while improving his shooting by 20%. Then 2018 saw him improve from 8.3 points and 8.2 assists to 10.3 points and 12.2 assists.
During 48 regular season games this year, Rondo had nine or more assists only five times and never in back-to-back games. Additionally, Rondo’s season-high in scoring was 23 points — which he did just once and had only one other game at 21 points.
While Rondo may not believe in it, the Lakers are more than happy to have Rondo performing at this level in the postseason and him keeping it up could be the boost the team needs to come away with the championship.
Davis sees similarities between Rondo, LeBron
The idea of Rondo being such a positive factor was not something many thought was possible following his first game back inside the bubble. However, Rondo’s teammates and the coaching staff continued to voice confidence in him.
Following Game 3, Anthony Davis drew a parallel between Rondo and LeBron James. “We have two of the best IQ guys in the game,” Davis began.
“They see a lot of things on the floor and then we make adjustments. They talk to us, they ask me what I see, and we just try to figure it out during the course of the game. We come in with a game plan, but things happen and we want to make sure we make adjustments. It’s not always on the coach, because one, he’s not on the floor.
“Two, it might be in the flow of a game that you might need to make an adjustment. With them two on the floor and at least one on the floor at all times, it’s easier for us to make those adjustments. It’s been good for us. It’s been helpful for me and I know it’s been helpful for the rest of the guys.
“Those two guys, with their basketball IQ on both ends of the floor, has been wonderful for us.”
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