Getting your game back (Importance of the fast break)

Damn it Rondo! I'm going to
"Aw Shucks" as hard as I possibly can!
Lately there’s been a lot of speculation about what caused the Celtics’ recent slide from first to third. We all want to understand what’s happening, as if we are going to just call up Doc and explain it to him. Certainly injuries and trades are part of the reason. It seems to me that signs point wear.

As we saw this team over the past years start the season, it became clear that one of the preferred methods of offense is the fast break lead by Rondo. This would be triggered by a steal, intercepted pass (yes, i know this is technically a steal), or a defensive rebound. Rondo ends up with ball, beats whatever chump is trying to block his path to the rim, and we get two with the majority of the team already back on defense...
...You get roughly the same effect (and usually you'll see the same cause) with an early alley-oop. When we are able to work these into the game numerous times, we just don’t lose. The less energy our veterans and big guys need to use, the better. Despite everyone saying that our team is so old, the fast break is one of our best friends.

Recently, until the Spurs games, this has been almost entirely absent. Our potential fast break won’t start if our interior players can’t get a defensive rebound. What’s worse is that all the defense you’ve just played was all for naught if they are just going to shoot until the hit one. And as we all know, when you’re already tired, expending more energy only to get the opposite result you had hoped sucks. The wear you experience perpetuates itself mentally and physically until by the end of the game you aren’t even interested in playing anymore.

Rebounding is all about effort. Anybody can jump and catch a ball. It’s about muscling yourself into the best position and jumping higher than the other guy. When you are tired, you’re just hoping the ball bounces right to you and nobody else bothers to go for it. Stealing the ball also takes effort. In short, getting the ball back without them scoring takes hard work.

So what happened in recent outings that seemed to change things? People say that you naturally play to your competition’s level, meaning that you play better when you face a better opponent. I think that if travel agent Parker weren’t playing during the San Antonio game, Rondo probably wouldn’t have had such a great game. When all the nation's eyes are on you, and you are a competitor, your adrenaline allows you to ignore the pain and wear you would have felt otherwise.

Look, we all knew going into this season that the potential for a mid to late season slump was a possibility, some even called it a certainty. The fact is, we have a team full of competitors, in their thirties. They may feel the effects of a season on the way, but they won't feel anything but desire when other teams start packing their bags for home.