Rajon Rondo trying to help teammates in his new role as assistant coach
Anyone who watched Game 1 of the Celtics/Knicks series noticed the Celtics coaching staff was larger than normal. Of course it was still led by Doc Rivers and his patented "smile at the refs with your arms up in the air following a terrible call on whoever was guarding Carmelo Anthony at the time" move. And then there were the normal assistants, simultaneously coaching up the players while also keeping one eye on Doc to make sure he didn't get ejected (something that I absolutely could have seen happening had the game not been so close until there was under a minute to play). And then there was the lanky 6'1" dude with hands the size of cantaloupes and a snazzy yellow zip-up blazer/jacket contraption yelling out defensive orders and talking to Avery Bradley at every opportunity.
Now over ten weeks removed from ACL surgery, Rajon Rondo has progressed to the point in his rehab where walking around/traveling/attending games is allowed, and while he is still months away from helping his team on the court, he's right there with his team on the sideline doing anything he can to help. Here's the Globe's Gary Dzen on Coach Rondo (link).
Rajon Rondo is taking on the role of a de facto coach for the Boston Celtics as he is out for the season with a torn ACL.
"He probably coaches as much as anybody," said Doc Rivers. "I don't know if it helps, I think it does. As a player you tend to listen to the players in the uniforms over the suits and ties. So we'll see. He was great today in shootaround. He knew every set the Knicks were running. When we called out a set to talk through it, he was pointing where everybody should be."
"It's amazing. He's always been that way. He's not playing and yet he studied the book."
Rivers has always spoken highly of Rondo's basketball intelligence.
"He's always been on another level," said Rivers. "I always tell him that if he wasn't so crazy he'd be a great coach."
Pretty cool story but unfortunately as hard as Rondo may coach—he can't transfer his skill-set to Bradley or Courtney Lee. The whole "the Celtics are better without Rondo!" idea seemed to already be on life support after the C's limped home over the final 15 games of the regular season, but if it wasn't already dead, the Celtics second half offensive performance in Game 1 finished it off.
While Bradley, Lee and the rest of the guys picking up minutes work their ass off, and give a more consistent effort, they just do not have the offensive skills necessary to run the team down the stretch of close games. Rondo's play making ability and precision passing was badly missed as the C's scored only 25 points in the 2nd half against New York while turning the ball over 20 times, and blew a fantastic opportunity to win Game 1.
While Rondo's absence is becoming a bigger factor as the season winds down, now is no time to get discouraged. While the C's do not have a Rondo replacement on hand, Bradley, Lee and Jason Terry still have the ability to play far better than they did in Game 1 (Bradley played pretty well despite turnovers, Lee and Terry were absolute no-shows), and they must if the Celtics plan on heading back to Boston with the series tied at 1.
Rondo will be coaching them up, but at the end of the day the Celtics trio of guards must make better decisions with the basketball.