By A.Sherrod Blakely
SACRAMENTO, Calif. Throughout his time as the Boston Celtics head coach, Doc Rivers has looked for different ways to challenge his precocious point guard, Rajon Rondo.
Become a better shooter. Make better decisions. Be more of a leader.
Rondo has shown progress in all those areas.
It remains to be seen if the same will hold true now that Rivers has added increased free-throw attempts to goals he has for Rondo.
Still, there's no doubt that for the C's to continue to improve, Rondo getting to the line more can only help.
"It's night and day. When he's attacking and making things happen, and playing at a high level he's used to playing at, the sky's the limit for this team," said Kendrick Perkins.
And adding free throws to his already impressive repertoire of offensive skills only makes him and the C's better moving forward.
On Tuesday, Rondo was indeed in attack mode from the opening tip.
A 51.2 percent free-throw shooter this season, Rondo made all three of his attempts against the Kings and has nailed eight of his last nine over the course of three games.
"We're staying on him; I'm trying to get him to get to the free-throw line as much as possible," Rivers said. "Just keep driving, keep attacking."
Rivers has challenged him to get 10 free-throw attempts per game.
While he knows that is highly unlikely to happen, that's not the point.
Rondo getting to the free-throw line more (he only has 67 attempts, which ranks sixth on the team) not only gives him more opportunities to score, but it also means opponents will see a set defense more often.
And as the Celtics get deeper into this season, they will need to continue to improve, Rondo included.
"The second half of the year, that's really important for him; just see how many times he can get to the free-throw line," Rivers said. "It'll be great for his confidence, great for our team's confidence. And we known when the playoffs start, that's going to be something that he'll have to do."