Danny Ainge is looking mighty smart right about now.
If you haven’t been following the Mavericks vs. Rockets series, all you really need to know is that Rajon Rondo has been a huge reason that Dallas is down 0-2, if not THE reason.
This isn’t about Rondo not playing well, this is about Rondo somehow not trying … in playoff games. We’ve seen Rondo not play his hardest before in Boston, but always in low key games. That’s not an excuse, but when it was playoff time, Rondo was at his best. Those days seem to be over.
In Game 1, he played 27 minutes and scored 15 points, but he wasn’t engaged. He shot 7-for-16 and the Mavs were a minus-25 while Rondo was on the floor — and he was riding the bench late in the game. This was on a night that Dirk shot 10-for-14, AKA a night that the point guard needs to keep feeding his best player.
In Game 2 things got worse. Way, WAY worse. Rondo played less than 10 minutes — including a 34-second appearance in the second half that went like this:
Here’s what Rondo’s boiling point looked like:
Rondo never entered the game again, and as a minus-36 in his 37 minutes of action so far, I’d be surprised if he plays again.
When one of your so called “stars” gives it everything he has, but just doesn’t have it that day, you stick with him. When he goes out and butchers a game without a care in the world, as Rondo did, you bench him.
Rondo seemed disinterested the entire game (all 9 minutes and 55 seconds he was on the floor), evident by his frustration on defense. He also got called for an eight-second violation while walking the ball up the floor, which was followed by Rondo leaving Jason Terry alone for a wide open 3-pointer on the following inbounds pass.
“Right now we need everyone at their competitive best,” said head coach Rick Carlisle after the Game 2 loss, clearly taking a deserved shot at Rondo. Rondo refused to speak to the media.
I covered Rondo during the time he was in Boston this season. I’ve been in locker rooms with him — he’s not good for them. The Celtics traded Rondo away and vaulted to the seven-seed in the east (with an extremely team oriented locker room) while Rondo dragged the Mavericks to the seven-seed in the west.
For a three year period (2009-2012), Rondo was an elite point guard. He was also on the perfect team with the Celtics able to hide his weaknesses behind the strengths of The Big Three, and play strictly to Rondo’s strengths. Now, almost 2 1/2 years removed from ACL surgery, Rondo’s far from elite. He’s also a mental disaster.
The Mavericks should be a fun team to run, but for some reason, Rondo can’t figure it out — probably because he’s not willing to adjust. Devin Harris, J.J. Barea and freaking Raymond Felton have been able to do it, and that’s likely the way Carlisle goes in Game 3. If I’m one of these guys, or any player on the Mavs, I HATE this guy right now. “Dude! Were’ in the playoffs … what the hell are you doing?”
No doubt Rondo will be gone from the Mavericks this offseason. But once thought of as a max-contract player — something he dubbed himself on media day this season in Boston — Rondo’s going to have a tough time finding takers out there after this meltdown.
UPDATE: Rondo has now been ruled out indefinitely by the Mavericks with a “back injury.” Consider this the team shutting him down for the postseason for giving up on them.
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