The Mavericks are ending the 2014 calendar year on a good note as they’ve come up with two big wins over the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Washington Wizards in dominating fashion. It was the Mavs third consecutive win and perhaps their most impressive one on the early season thus far.
It’s only been six games since the Mavs acquired Rondo from the Boston Celtics but it’s evident Rondo’s beginning to have a big influence on the Mavericks. Rondo did a great job of limiting an All-Star point guard for the second game in a row, this time it was the Wizard’s John Wall who was limited to 11 points, 6 points below his season average, on the night. Wall was never given the opportunity to get into any type of rhythm and the Mavs played great team defense on Wall but it all starts with Rondo’s aggressiveness on the defensive end to stay in front of his man.
Something that doesn’t show up on the stats sheet is Rondo’s attitude and mindset defensively and how that trickles down to the rest of the players on the court. The Mavericks forced a total of 23 turnovers and kept the Wizards potent back-court in check throughout the game. Sunday against the Thunder Rondo was able to hold in check perhaps the most explosive point guard in the league in Russell Westbrook. Westbrook only shot 6-of-23 from the floor and held to 18 points, 10 points below his season average. Rondo’s length and aggressiveness makes it hard on opponent point guards to get into a consistent rhythm offensively.
What’s also been impressive is that the Mavs only allowed the Thunder to shoot 35% from three-point land and held the Wizards to 33.3%. When your point guard and center can man up one-on-one with anyone at their respective position it allows the rest of the guys on the court to be more aggressive and play tighter because you have more room for error and feel confident in those two guys rotating to help. Before it was Shawn Marion that use to cover opposing team’s star point guards but now the Mavericks can man Rondo up with anyone and focus more on other perennial scorers at different playing positions.
You’ve noticed I haven’t mentioned much about Rondo’s influence on the offensive end well that’s mainly because the Mavs were great offensively before the Rondo trade and still are. Where Rondo helps out the Mavericks the most is defensively because that’s what the Mavs needed so desperately. Offensively Rondo has begun to become more familiar with his new teammates and are starting to show like the league’s best offense once again. You would see a couple dropped passes off Rondo passes as players weren’t use to some of the spectacular passes Rondo is able to pull off, now you don’t see that happen very often.
Rondo still has to work on his free throw and jump shooting but that’ll come with time. For now Rondo, like Monta, can drive to the basket on a consistent basis and either lure defenders to him and then hit the open player or simply finish the drive off himself. And when defenses do lure off him out on the perimeter he’s not afraid to take the open shot and that’s what Coach Carlisle likes to see.
If Rondo can continue to shut down or simply limit opposing star point guards then we’ll see more of the defensive effort we’ve seen over the last couple games. Rondo lightens the burden defensively on Tyson Chandler, who won’t have nearly as many point guards getting past the first line of defense and driving to the basket over and over again as we all saw throughout most of this season.
It’s still early but Rondo’s giving this team a legitimate shot at competing with the league’s best.