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As much of a story as Boston's recent slide had been, it was the play of star point guard Rajon Rondo that has really bugged fans around New England.

Aside from being a phenomenal writer, Jackie MacMullan's most famous skill is the way she gets players to open up. That's no less the case in her most recent column for ESPNBoston.com, where she talks to Rajon Rondo about his recent slump.

Included is perhaps one reason Rondo hasn't looked quite like himself in recent weeks. The departure of his good friend, Kendrick Perkins.

"We were best friends," Rondo told MacMullan. "It's been tough. I know other guys have been through it, but I haven't. We went through everything together, right from the beginning. I missed the USA basketball camp so I could be at his wedding."

Life for Rondo has certainly been different since the trade. Not only off the court -- where he's lost his favorite person to hang out with -- but on it as well.

Rondo is often called the quarterback of the team. Rondo's role is to set his teammates up with the best possible shot. He's elevated himself into the discussion of the NBA's best point guards not for his scoring ability, but for the way he sees the floor.


He's lead the league in assists per game all year with 11.5, now just .2 above Steve Nash. He makes everyone around him better. His team leads the league in field goal percentage, shooting 48.8 percent and Rondo's the main reason why his hall of fame counterparts, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, are each shooting career-highs in the latter parts of their careers.

However, as much of an effect Rondo has on his team when he's playing well, he has just as much of an effect when he isn't.

"When I don't play well, we seem to lose more," he said. "Now I'm sure that's also partly true when it comes to KG, Paul, Ray. But the ball is in my hands so much, and I've seen what happens when I spark the team.

"It's not about making shots. It's getting those guys shots, it's grabbing a rebound, it's making a defensive play."

In the beginning of the season, it seemed a disappointment when Rondo would only dish out 11 assists. The way things stand now? Boston fans would kill for 10. Rondo hasn't reached double-digit assists since he had 16 back on March 4th against Golden State.

As Rondo has slumped, so has the team. The Celtics entered last night's game against the Hornets losing four of their last six. Amidst the downward slide, Rondo has averaged just 6.7 assists per game and shot a measly 28.6 percent.

Despite sharing a roster with four future hall of famers, the 25-year old point guard is the Celtic's undisputed MVP. He put the team on his back in an intense seven-game first round series against the Bulls in 2009 and then strapped them on again last year against the Cavaliers and Magic. As Rondo goes, so does the team.

So, needless to say, his recent play has been a bit concerning to Celtics fans. It was an encouraging sign against the Hornets last night when he showed signs of life by knocking down 4-of-8 jumpers and scoring nine points. Yet, the Celtics need more than one game from Rondo going forward.

Many have questioned Rondo's health. And with good reason. Rondo's importance to the team is obvious. Because of that he's had to be on the floor a lot. His minutes have steadily increased each year that he's been in the league. This season, he's averaging 37.1 minutes per game -- the highest total of his career. That's a lot for a point guard who's battled ailments with his hamstring, ankles and plantar fascia during the 2010-11 campaign.

MacMullan also points to a pinky injury that's hampered Rondo for the past two weeks. It was the pinky that he aggravated -- and perhaps broke -- last night against the Hornets. It made his hand go numb and forced him to watch from the bench from when there was 7:12 left in the third quarter until 6:12 left in the game.

With Delonte West and Carlos Arroyo on hand to spell Rondo and give him some much needed rest, he's been given an opportunity to get healthy and focused heading into the playoffs.

Whatever the reason, whether it's been fatigue, injuries, or the loss of his best friend. One thing is clear. The Celtics need Rondo to look like his old self if the team's going to accomplish their goal of raising Banner 18.

Mike Saver 3/20/2011 02:47:00 PM Edit
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8 Responses so far.

  1. rondo's struggles have been more a symptom than a problem. we haven't been playing our brand of defense consistently, which means we're not getting out in transition, hence the drop off in assist numbers. of course, being at the tail end of an 82 game season doesn't help, especially when he has a few nagging injuries (foot, ankle, pinky, banged knee last night).

    nothing to worry about. he'll be just fine. he just needs some rest.

  2. bballee says:

    A couple of thoughts:

    The pinkie is not affecting his ability to stay in front of his defensive assignment.

    The pinkie may well have something to do with the fact that his normally pin-point passing has been off target recently. His passing is abnormal both in its arriving at a perfect location for the shooter to go directly into his shot and for its incredible timing that also permits the shooter to take a shot in rhythm. This factor has, I believe, been the most significant in the disruption of the Celtics' offensive flow.

  3. clutch_9 says:

    i agree with bballee. He needs to get it checked out as soon as possible. Rondo is a bit stubborn and although he is in pain, it still doesn't help his game, i think he needs to take a few days off and make Delonte and Carlos play. seriously!

    I also see that he is not really playing with confidence, a sign that he is NOT mentally stable. The biggest reason for his slump, i believe, is the departure of Kendrick Perkins. If we don't win a championship this year, Danny Ainge is gonna piss himself, because he shipped of Perkins (not saying that Jeff Greene isn't a great pickup), and with Perkins gone (Rondo's best friend) he is not there emotionally.


    Danny, you better pray we win this year!

  4. tb727 says:

    Sit him out for as long as he needs if an injury is bothering him. Not sure why they take that approach with Glen Davis and KG and Shaq (and of course Jermaine O'Neal lol) but not Rondo.

    West looked good last night, I felt him and Davis (and Ray Allen) helped spark that win.

  5. kunzang says:

    i soo agree with u clutch-9..
    m glad u see dat to...some haters wudnt see dat on chat yesterday LOL..
    but oh welll!!
    i jst hope we get everything str8tened out with a lead in east for the playoffs!!

  6. Three Toe says:

    tb i agree with everything you said. mike, good article.

  7. shelbyl says:

    It's good to know that he's aware of what has been going on (not that he wouldn't be, but it's good to read about it), and it's even better to see that he's coming back.

    Last night will be an important night if this season ends happily.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Rondo needs to stop being a little bitch about things though! We have a championship to Win!! Grow up!

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