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Five Things We Learned: Rajon Rondo Would Make Doc Go Left

04.10.09 at 11:28 pm ET
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The other night Stephon Marbury said that Rajon Rondo reminded him of former Syracuse great (and former Net not-so-great) Pearl Washington. It was a nice trip down remembrance lane for the assembled press corps, conjuring up memories of the Pearl weaving his way through the Georgetown Hoya Paranoia press of yore. But for Rondo? Not so much.

“I don’t know who Pearl was,” Rondo said before reminding the media that he didn’t spend a lot of time watching basketball while he was growing up. The conversation turned to Doc Rivers, who Rondo also doesn’t remember as a player, not that it stopped him from taking a little trash.

“I would have a field day against Doc,” Rondo said. Wouldn’t Doc post you up somebody wanted to know? “He’d have to bring it up first,” Rondo said. “Doc can’t go left. That’s what he told me anyway. That would be his problem.”

“That’s probably true,” Rivers answered. “But I’m humble. If we played under the rules I played under (read: hand checks and lots of ‘em) he wouldn’t stand a chance. If we played under his rules I wouldn’t have a chance.”

The rules being what they are, Doc’s assessment is probably correct because without the free use of hand checks (and body slams a la the old Pat Riley Knicks) no one in the NBA has much of a prayer of staying in front of Rondo.

Rondo’s recent scoring binge was a topic of conversation pre-game, but he dismissed that too saying he’s rather have 15 or 16 assists then 30+ points like he dropped on the Nets, Wednesday. Against Miami on Friday his scoring was down–just seven points–but he had 12 assists to go with 10 rebounds and prevented his counterpart, Mario Chalmers, from doing much of anything.

Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus fame recently unveiled his picks for the All-Defensive team, which featured Rondo as the First-Team point guard. Pelton wrote: “Rondo has size and quickness, and uses them both along with a pair of hands that might be as good as any in the league. Rondo’s ability to pressure the length of the court sets the tone for the Celtics‘ stifling defense, and he is an asset defending in the half court as well.”

The age of Rajon is upon us. Here are five other things we learned from Friday nights’ game with the Heat. (Click here for a recap).

1. PAUL PIERCE IS NOT TIRED

The Truth unleashed a classic Truth kind of game with 28 points, eight rebounds and a bushel of clutch shots down the stretch. There has been much concern about Pierce’s physical well-being after he appeared worn down in late March and early April, but the Captain seems to be picking it up at the right time.

“Paul just plays,” Rivers said. “You don’t know if he’s tired, if he’s hurt. You don’t know if he’s feeling great, he has the same expression every night. He’s such a warrior and people don’t get that about him. He is a tough, tough, tough guy. He really is and I think his love of the game is what drives him.”

Pierce cited his maturity and with age comes wisdom, particularly in terms of getting his rest and taking care of his body. “As I get older, I’m getting a lot smarter,” Pierce said. “I feel great right now. I love the way I’ve been playing. I feel like I can do this for another 10 years.”

2. STEPHON MARBURY’S JUMPER IS COMING–SLOWLY

Early in the second quarter, Marbury pulled up on the break and drained a 15-foot jumper. It’s the last thing that has been missing from his comeback attempt, not only the shot, but also the willingness to take it. Marbury made four of five shots in the first half, but he struggled in the second, an indication that he’s not all the way there yet.

“We just want him to keep looking at it,” Rivers said. “And do it in rhythm. In the first half he just played the game and let it come to him. Second half I thought he was looking for it.”

For the second night in a row, however, it was the second unit that gave the Celtics a jolt of energy; a positive development that has helped fuel their run of 10 wins in their last 11 games.

3. RAY ALLEN WOULD LIKE TO THANK THE ACADEMY

Ray Allen won the Red Auerbach Award as the player who best exemplifies what it means to be a Celtic, and he was a little surprised by the honor.

“I’m think OK, somebody’s going to get an award,” Allen said. “I looked behind me to see who was going to step up… I was totally overwhelmed. Surprised. It was a great surprise.”

Allen has put together one of the most efficient seasons of his NBA career by adding a mid-range game that was mostly absent last year. If you recall, the year began with something of an unofficial Allen Watch every time he struggled. Given his track record, it’s unfair to say that this year comes as a complete shock, but given the track record of shooting guards in their 30′s it’s a testament to the hard work Allen has put in on his game.

4. THE PLAYOFFS ARE BECOMING SOMEWHAT CLEARER

The Cavs won, and locked up the top seed in the East. The Magic lost (somehow) at home to a Knicks team that started the immortal Jared Jeffries at center opposite Dwight Howard. That gives the Celtics a two-game lead with three games to play for the second seed.The Hawks, meanwhile, locked up the fourth seed.

The rest of the East is still a jumble. Miami and Philly are still separated by a game for the fifth spot, while Chicago and Detroit are within a game of Philly for sixth. So, there’s still a lot to figure out, but at least it’s not as messy as the West.

5. 60 WINS (AGAIN)

The Celtics won their 60th game, marking the 13th time in their distinguished franchise history that they have reached that plateau and the second year in a row. Prior to last season, the Celtics had not won 60 games since the Larry Bird era when they turned the trick six times in Larry Legend’s career.

Of their 60-win seasons the Celtics have won the NBA championship six times–2007-08, 1985-86, 1983-84, 1980-81, 1964-65 and 1961-62.

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