|Rondo’s honor: All defense||05.05.10 at 4:32 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Rajon Rondo set a goal of making the NBA’s All Defense First Team and he was rewarded by the league Wednesday. Rondo earned the second most votes, both first place and overall, behind Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard.
“It strokes my ego,” he joked after the team’s practice Wednesday. “It’s something I’ve worked for since I’ve come into the league. One of my goals this year was to make the first team.”
Rondo deflected credit to his teammates who posted the league’s fifth best defensive efficiency rating (a step down from previous seasons).
“Having four guys behind you makes you look a lot better,” Rondo said. “When I get beat on the dribble I got Perk and Kevin [Garnett] blocking those shots.”
Rondo led the league in steals with 189 [and set a new franchise record in the process], but those steals have sometimes been a point of contention to those who felt that he gambled too much. The Celtics feel that he has curbed those tendencies and has played more solid on the ball defense this season.
“He deserves it,” Doc Rivers said. “He works at it. It’s a great honor. When you’re on the first team in anything it’s a hell of an honor.”
Rondo’s defense was a key component in the Celtics first round series win over the Heat. When he was able to pressure full court, Miami had major trouble getting into its offense. The key word for him is disruptive because of his steals and also his deflections.
The Celtics have had to rely on him in their series with the Cavs even more. He has played 87 of the available 96 minutes in the first two games and the Celtics have been +19 when he’s in the game and -9 when he’s been out. Tony Allen has been the nominal point guard in Rondo’s absence, but the Celtics have had Ray Allen and Paul Pierce bring the ball up at times.
“I’m OK with Tony,” Rivers said. “I don’t know the answer with Rondo. I don’t like the minutes, but as you saw in the fourth quarter, we took him for two minutes and it changed quickly. Our plan was to take him out in the first half, but then Paul got in foul trouble. I told him at that point, I’m sorry.”