Beyond the Arc: Rajon Rondo

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Beyond the Arc: Rajon Rondo

By JessicaCamerato
CSNNE.com

On a team of high-energy players who arent shy about expressing their intensity on the court, Rajon Rondo plays it cool. He rarely shows emotion, whether he is driving the lane for an improbable basket or tossing a lob for a game-winning alley-oop -- its all just part of his game.

But underneath that unaffected demeanor is a fiery player with a surging desire to win. It may not always be easy to read Rondos emotions, but there is no doubting his commitment to success.

After Rondo talked about his competitive nature with CSNNE.coms Beyond the Arc, his teammates on the Boston Celtics shared what they most appreciate about his will to win.

Kendrick Perkins has been close friends with Rondo for years. He enjoys Rondos personality both on and off the court.

Hes got like a quiet arrogance about him, Perkins said. He doesnt talk or show too much emotion, but hes arrogant with it. It helps us a lot, because when he picks it up, he picks it up for everybody.

Delonte West was teammates with Rondo during his rookie year. After playing on opposing sides for three seasons, West appreciates his competitive nature - now that it isnt being used against them.

His competitiveness is deceptive, West said. He talks a lot, communicates, and does all the right things, but as far as showing his emotions, you couldnt tell. Like in comparison to KG, by his emotions or a certain action he does, you can tell hes out there competing. KGs into the game, whereas Rondo may not give you all that emotion but hes just as fierce inside. Its like a quiet confidence that you dont understand until you actually match up against him and you see, this guy is quietly really trying to beat me (laughs).

It helps a lot because everyone is so focused on the Big Three, and you have another guy thats just sitting in the darkness and hes not trying to make any noise about it and draw attention to himself, but hes quietly one of the best point guards in the NBA and the world.

Glen Davis plays major minutes with the Celtics starters, and being on the court with Rondo helps him find his groove.

Hes just a floor general, Davis said. Hes a grinder. He wants to win and he has the urgency to win. You can just see it. Hes grown tremendously. Ive been knowing him for a while and Im glad hes on my team. Hes always pumping confidence in us, making us shoot the ball, telling us where we need to be at the right time and place.

Nate Robinson knows how important Rondo is to the Celtics success, so he takes their match ups in practice very seriously.

Hes not really cocky, but he knows that hes good, Robinson said. Thats something that every basketball player has in our system. Thats what I love about him. Hes very, very confident in himself. It motivates me to get him better every day in practice, just try to give him the best look being the other guard, and trying to keep him on his toes so when he gets a look in the game, he doesnt have a drop-off.

Von Wafer knows Rondo is going to give it his all on the court, which pushes him to do the same. He has been motivated by Rondos recent offensive attack.

Rondos been big, he said. I think he could easily average 20 points, but hes been a distributor. But hes been attacking more, scoring more. I think thats good for us. Hes a tough player. It motivates you because youve got to come out there ready to play because youre going to look bad when everyone else is playing hard and you arent. I dont want to look bad out there.

Avery Bradley came into his rookie season hungry to work hard. He was pleased to find out Rondo was on the same page.

I like how hard he plays, how much he loves the game, he said. I learn to always go hard from him. Hes even competitive in practice and some guys arent like that, but he is. It caught me off guard. All those guys, theyre competitive about everything. It was weird because thats how I am and all my friends werent like that. Now being at this level, everybody is like that.

Do you have a question for the Celtics? Tweet it to Jessica Camerato on Twitter and it may be asked on an upcoming edition of "Beyond the Arc." Jessica Camerato is on Twitter athttp:twitter.comjcameratoNBA

Celtics' ball movement among NBA's best, with or without Thomas

Celtics' ball movement among NBA's best, with or without Thomas

BOSTON – When it comes to winning basketball, keep it moving – the ball that is – has become a staple of the Celtics this season. 
 
And lately they’ve had to do it without Isaiah Thomas, the team’s leading scorer at 26 points per game as well as their top assists guy (6.2) who will miss hish third game in a row Sunday in Oklahoma City because of a right groin injury.
 
The Celtics have split their first two games without Thomas, with the most recent being a 101-94 home loss to Toronto on Friday.
 
When it comes to this team and ball movement, fans are just as divided when it pertains to whether the Celtics move the ball better without the high-scoring Thomas in the lineup. 
 
Regardless of what fans think they know about this team and how they move the ball, the numbers paint a very clear picture that this team’s ball movement is among the best in the NBA, with or without Thomas in the lineup. 

And that will be important on Sunday against an Oklahoma City team that doesn’t rely on the ball swinging from one side of the floor to the other, nearly as much as the Celtics. 
 
The Thunder, led by MVP candidate Russell Westbrook, are dead-last in the NBA when it comes to passes made per game (267.1). 
 
Meanwhile, the Celtics are at the opposite end of the passing game spectrum, averaging 331.7 passes per game, which is second in the NBA (Philadelphia, 354.3).
 
And in the two games without Thomas, Boston has averaged 347.0 passes per game, which ranks second in the NBA in that period of time. 
 
In addition to missing his points and assists, the Celtics must also find ways to make plays in filling the void left by a player who has the ball in his hands a lot of the time. 
 
Thomas’ usage percentage (percentage of plays used by a player while he’s on the floor) of 32.9 percent ranks seventh in the NBA, ahead of notable stars such as San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard (30.9 percent), Portland’s Damian Lillard (30.8 percent), New York’s Carmelo Anthony (29.5 percent), as well as Cleveland’s LeBron James (29 percent) and Golden State’s back-to-back NBA MVP Stephen Curry (28.2 percent).
 
So, considering how involved Thomas has been in the team’s offense, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the numbers in terms of passing and ball movement are better without him than they are when he’s on the floor playing. 
 
What should be surprising is that the gap statistically without him, isn’t greater. 
 
Boston has been a top five team when it comes to assists this season, currently third in the league with 24.7 assists per game. In the past two games without Thomas, the Celtics’ assists numbers have risen to 26.5 per game, but that only ranks fifth in the league in that span.
 
When it comes to potential assists and secondary assists (a.k.a. the “hockey” assist), Boston’s numbers have improved slightly without Thomas as well, but in each category Boston is ranked second in the league. 
 
And that ranking is with, and without Thomas in the lineup. 
 
While it’s not clear if Thomas knows just how close the numbers in terms of ball movement are with and without him playing, he is acutely aware that there are some who believe they are a better team in terms of keeping the ball moving without him.
 
“I can’t control that,” Thomas told reporters on Friday. “At this point, I laugh about it. I know what I mean to my teammates. I know what I mean to this organization, to Brad Stevens.”
 

Isaiah Thomas won't make trip to Oklahoma City for Sunday game

Isaiah Thomas won't make trip to Oklahoma City for Sunday game

BOSTON – Facing Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook with a fully healthy squad is tough. 
 
Doing so without your leading scorer makes the challenge all that much greater. 
 
That is where the Celtics find themselves heading into Sunday night’s game against the Thunder without Isaiah Thomas, who did not travel with the team when they left for Oklahoma City today. 
 
Boston’s leading scorer this season with 26 points per game, Thomas suffered a right groin injury against Houston on Dec. 5 and has missed the Celtics’ past two games because of it. 
 
He was hoping to convince Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge to let him travel with the team, but Thomas acknowledged convincing Ainge was a long shot. 
 
“He’s not really in favor of me going,” Thomas told reporters on Friday. “I’m trying to convince them to let me go. If I’m there, they know I’m going to try and play. I’m shooting for Wednesday [at San Antonio] for the most part. That’s more realistic than Sunday. Hopefully I can play on Wednesday.”
 
Boston has split the two games with Thomas out, beating the you-know-what out of Orlando 117-87 on the road, but dropping one at home 101-94 to Toronto on Friday night. 
 
As disappointed as Thomas is with not being able to play – it’s the first games he has missed since the 2014-2015 season – he understands the potential problems that could surface with an injury like this if he and the Celtics aren’t careful. 
 
“They keep wanting to be very patient with this,” Thomas said. “They don’t want to re-injure it. It is an injury that can get re-injured and be a problem the rest of the season. I don’t want that. On top of that, it gives me time to heal all the other injuries I have.”
 
Among the other injuries Thomas was referring to, is a still-swollen finger on his left (shooting) hand. 
 
The injury was believed to have happened on Nov. 12 against Indiana. 
 
While it was painfully sore, it didn’t seem to be an issue in Boston’s next game against New Orleans when he scored a season-high 37 points. He followed that up with a 30-point performance in a 90-83 win over Dallas.