Rajon Rondo leads the league in assists at 12.8 per game, the only player in the NBA currently averaging double-figures. Tonight, against the Dallas Mavericks, Rondo had 7 assists by intermission and finished with a game-high 15. What Rondo is doing isn’t easy, but he sure makes it look that way. And therein lies the genius that is Rajon Rondo. His court vision is nonpareil, a gift that, literally, keeps on giving. Just ask the turnover-prone Mavericks, who were the latest victim of Rondo’s ability to gorge the stat sheet. And it was a good thing, because the Celtics needed all of Rondo’s excellence to keep the Mavs at bay and come away with a big home win in double-overtime, 117-115.
While the recent ejection against the New Jersey Nets ended his bid to surpass Magic Johnson’s record streak of double-digit assists, and in the process doused all of the talk of Rondo’s vision and uncanny ability to find his teammates in the right spot, it does not diminish Rondo’s ability to impact a basketball game without scoring.
It could be argued that Rondo could go the entire season with scoring a single point and he would still be one of the most impactful players on the court. What Bill Russell did at the center position for the Celtics with his defensive presence and rebounding, Rondo does for the modern day Celtics with his ability to distribute the basketball.
Watching the game tonight, it’s clear that Rondo has an unspoken connection with forward/center Chris Wilcox. A second half pick-and-roll led to a Rondo assist, and typified the way these two feed off of each other. For an instant Rondo was John Stockton and Wilcox was Karl Malone, and we were transported back to the NBA’s Golden Age.
But then again, you don’t average nearly 13 assists a game by melding with one player. Rondo is an equal opportunity distributor, knowing exactly where to hit Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry, et al, in order to give his teammates the best chance of scoring the basketball. We saw that tonight, firsthand, as Rondo helped Pierce score a season-high 34 points, the first Celtic to cross the 30-point mark all season.
What does it all mean? It means the Celtics now have a road date with the Houston Rockets on Friday night, another big test of where they stand as a team. As long as Rondo is on the court, passing up shots and passing to his teammates, our Celtics will have a chance to climb the crowded Eastern Conference standings.