Rajon Rondo was virtually unstoppable in Game 4 for the Boston Celtics as they evened their series with the Cleveland Cavaliers at 2-2,.
At Monday’s practice, the media continued to focus on that performance, but shifted questions to whether or not he could duplicate it if the Cavaliers decide to put LeBron James on the point guard, amidst James saying that he would like the opportunity to guard Rondo.
When asked about it, Rondo provided a very direct answer.
“It really doesn’t matter about the matchup,” remarked Rondo. “Obviously, it’s the playoffs and the big thing is matchups, but, to me, I don’t really care who’s guarding me. I gotta run the offense and in our system. If we get easy looks in transition, it doesn’t matter who’s guarding me.”
Those same sentiments were shared by his Celtic teammates.
“I’m not really concerned about [LeBron on Rondo]. We gotta get the ball to Rondo on the break, let him dictate the pace. It doesn’t matter. We’ve got to get him open, set screens, cause different matchups for him. If they put LeBron on him, it really doesn’t matter,” said Paul Pierce.
Mike Brown, Cleveland’s head coach, stated that he was not exactly sure what he wanted to do with James, due to his success at keeping Pierce at bay throughout the course of the first four games of the series.
James however said that he would like the chance at Rondo, as he has beaten the Cavaliers on the that side of the court.
“I would love to,” James remarked. “It’s something we maybe should explore because Rondo is definitely dominating this series at the point guard position. For me, I don’t have a problem taking Rondo or guarding Rondo throughout the course of the game. If the coaching staff or the guys want me to do it, I will.”
During practice this week in preparation for Game 5 of the series, Brown had the Cavaliers prepare extra by watching the film of Game 4, to see where their problem areas got them beat, specifically Rondo.
“We watched, basically, the tape on him [Rondo],” remarked Cleveland center Zydrunas Ilgauskas. “It’s hard for one guy to stop him because he is that good. It’s going to take all five. We always knew that he was a hell of a player.”
“Maybe we were so worried about the Big Three that in some degree we’re underestimating him and that was our biggest mistake.”
Boston echoed the same type of practice schedule as did Cleveland, breaking down film of the previous game, with the importance of Game 5 looming on the horizon.
“We don’t care who guards Rondo,” remarked Boston head coach Doc Rivers. “We still have to run our stuff. It’s not like we’re going to stop running our offense. We anticipated [James on Rondo], I’ve only talked about it for three games now. We know it’s going to come at some point in the series. When it does, we have to find a way of using Rondo and make sure he’s still a facilitator.”
Rondo said that he would be use to having a player like James guard him, as Kobe Bryant was assigned to him two years ago in the NBA Finals, in which Boston went on to win the title.
“It’s happened before,” remarked Rondo. “LeBron is going to be LeBron. He’s a great help defender, so he’s going to be helping [regardless of who he covers]. He’s a good defender. [The Lakers] did that a couple years ago when Kobe [Bryant] was checking me during the Finals. I’m used to bigger guys guarding me and giving me the shot and challenging me late because of their wingspan. You know, [Anthony] Parker is 6-7, 6-6. He’s not LeBron, but he’s similar. Not first-team All-Defense, but he’s a good defender.”
In spite of the series being tied, Cleveland remains the heavy favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference and represent it in the 2010 NBA Finals on Online Sportsbooks, sporting 10/11 odds.