Ball Don't Lie

Rajon Rondo’s assist streak is nearing historic territory (VIDEO)

Dan Devine
Ball Don't Lie

So, Rajon Rondo's killing it. You know it, I know it, dogs know it. He put up his sixth triple-double of the season — 10 points, 10 rebounds, 20 assists — on Wednesday night to help his Boston Celtics continue their steamroll to the postseason with an 88-86 overtime victory over the Atlanta Hawks. His sixth triple-double of the season — sixth! — also extended his streak of dishing 10 or more assists to 19 consecutive games. Considering most of us have never notched even ONE assist in an NBA game, that's pretty impressive.

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There's a great rundown of morning-after pieces on the ever-growing legend of Rondo at CelticsBlog, compiled by legend-in-his-own-right Jeff Clark, detailing how amazing Rondo's last few weeks have been. The run hasn't escaped Doc Rivers' notice, although the Celtics' coach does want to note that there's no "i" in "epic run of form," except that crud, there is one. Anyway, Frank Dell'Apa at the Boston Globe has Doc's explanation:

"I know he's on a run," Rivers said. "I don't even know what the run is. Honestly, I don't even know what that [double-figure assist streak] means. I know it means he's playing very well but I don't need the numbers to tell me that.

"He's playing extremely well, he's just been spectacular. And that's why we're winning. It's not just him, it's everybody. But we need a locked-in effort from him every night and he's doing that."

Good call, Doc. Rondo putting up more than 10 assists per game is not the only reason the Celtics have gone 8-2 in their last 10 games and 18-8 in their last 26 games, and it's not why the Celtics have a three-game lead in the Atlantic Division with eight games to go, and it's not why the Celtics look like an incredibly dangerous team heading into the Eastern Conference playoffs.

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Paul Pierce averaging 20.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game since the All-Star break helps quite a bit. As does Kevin Garnett averaging 17.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game over that same span. As does a defense that's been choking out opponents and the dynamite work of a five-man unit that puts Avery Bradley and Brandon Bass alongside Pierce, Garnett and Rondo.

But Rondo doing historic-level dishing damn sure don't hurt. Hit the jump to take a look inside the numbers on Rondo's 19-game run.

Rondo's been in a pretty ludicrous delivery zone over the past two months. He's got 34 games of 10 or more assists on the season; 25 of them have come in his last 27 appearances, and 26 in his last 30. He's still turning the ball over quite a bit, losing possession 74 times during his 19-game streak, an average of just under 3.9 TOs per game; that's not a total surprise, though, as Rondo's posted the fourth-highest turnover rate among point guards who've made at least 20 appearances and average at least 20 minutes per game on the season, according to Hoopdata.

Over the course of the streak, though, Rondo has served up 260 assists against those 74 cough-ups, a 3.5-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio that would be a career-best single-season rate, would far outstrip his 3-to-1 career mark and would better all NBA point guards save Jose Calderon of the Toronto Raptors and Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers this season, according to NBA.com's statistics. It's also pushed him into some rarified air in the pantheon of point guards in NBA history.

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After his 19-game surge, Rondo has now assisted on 51.4 percent of the Celtics' field goals while he's been on the floor for the season. A player assisting on more than half of his team's baskets over the course of a season has only happened 13 times since 1946-47, according to Basketball-Reference.com's Player Season Finder, and only three players have done it — Paul (twice), Steve Nash (four times) and John Stockton (seven). If Rondo can keep serving them up like he has, he'll be the fourth. And if he can extend his streak by one more game, he'll join Stockton and Magic Johnson as one of just three players to have posted double-digit helpers in 20 straight contests since 1986, according to Basketball-Reference.com's Player Streak Finder tool. Not bad company for a point guard.

That said, it's no sure thing that Rondo will continue the streak when the Celtics take on the Toronto Raptors on Friday night. Rondo has faced the Raptors 18 times during his six-year NBA career and has notched 10 or more assists just four times. Weirdly enough, two of his six lowest assist totals of this season have come against the Raps — he dished just two dimes in 28 minutes of work in a blowout win back in January and seven in a 12-point loss on Feb. 10, just before his 26-of-30 run started. So don't bet the mortgage on Friday night's outcome just yet.

Even if he doesn't, though, and even if what he's been doing appears to be no more or less amazing than what his fellow Celtics have been doing over the past two months, it's still worth noting that, um, it kind of is. That's the kind of generationally unique player Rajon Rondo is. It's not his fault that the Celtics just happen to have, like, four of those kinds of guys.

Video of Rondo's 20-assist night thanks to our friends at the National Basketball Association.

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