I have only recently written a post on how Barbosa was starting to understand his role after several unsuccessful stints that revolved around taking only jump shots. Both against Bulls (6 pts, 3 ast, 1TO) and Jazz (16 pts, 3 ast, 0 TO) Barbosa has shown us what he can do in terms of running the team.
Barbosa: You have 4 more TOs than I do.
Williams: How many you got?
Following Rondo’s day-to-day ankle injury, Barbosa might have to rise to a bigger challenge and start as a PG against the Nets who are 5-3 this season (3-1 at home).
Even though the absence of Rondo is disappointing, this can be another night where Barbosa can shine offensively. The two nights that Barbosa played terrific ball so far came against the Heat (because they didn’t expect it) and the Jazz (he matched up with Tinsley, who is obviously not the most athletic PG in the league, and Mo Williams who is not known for his defense).
Barbosa will find an average defender tonight in Deron Williams whom the Blur can cause some trouble.
To give an example, flashy Irving scored 34 points (10 above his season average) against D-Will where 10 of his points came from within 4ft of the basket and he had 14 free throws. This is not to compare Barbosa to Irving obviously, but it shows to an extent how athleticism and penetration skills can be in our favor.
However, the same cannot be said defensively. Rondo’s absence would absolutely affect our backcourt defense against one of the smartest PGs in the league. One might expect to see Doc play with defensive matchups (Lee on Williams, Green at 2 guard etc.) yet it is obvious that it wouldn’t be the most difficult game for Williams.
In any case, it will be an interesting experiment to play without Rondo, and if you’re looking for a silver lining, it’s good to conduct that experiment as early in the season as possible, given our lack of depth at the number 1 spot. I would rather not risk Rondo and let Barbosa embrace his role more or experiment with Pierce being PF at a lineup that consists of good defenders.