Boston’s “Big Three” may receive more notoriety, but the Celtics also have a young point guard who can play.
While the additions of veterans Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to team with Paul Pierce helped propel Boston to last season’s NBA championship, Rondo also played an integral role, averaging 10.6 points and 5.1 assists in his first season as a full-time starter. Early in 2008-09, the third-year pro is growing more comfortable with the Celtics’ up-tempo offense and his assists are up to 6.5 per game.
“I think I’m 10 times better,” Rondo said. “I’ve been working, trying to continue to learn the game. It’s just part of growing as a young player, knowing when and when not to attack.”
He’s been attacking the basket effectively lately, averaging 15.3 points and shooting 54.3 percent (25-for-46) from the field during the last four games of Boston’s five-game winning streak. He had 15 points and four assists in Sunday’s 118-103 victory at Toronto, running an offense that placed six players in double figures while scoring a new season high.
“I thought his speed was the factor of the game,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said of Rondo. “It set the tables for everyone else to get in. He’s done that three or four games in a row and we’re winning by big margins and I really believe that’s the reason.”
The Celtics (13-2) have won their last three games by an average margin of more than 16 points. They’ll be facing a Golden State (5-9) team coming off its most-lopsided loss of the season, a 124-100 defeat Tuesday night at Washington.
The Warriors fell to 0-2 on their five-game Eastern road trip and dropped their third straight overall for the first time this season. They haven’t lost four in a row since opening 2007-08 with six consecutive losses.
A similar slump is a realistic possibility, as the remainder of Golden State’s trip offers no easy opponents. The Warriors visit LeBron James and Central Division-leading Cleveland on Friday, then conclude the swing Saturday with a game at resurgent New York—Jamal Crawford’s former club.
Crawford, acquired by the Warriors last Friday in exchange for Al Harrington, had a quiet debut with his new team on Tuesday, with nine points and seven assists in 29 minutes.
“I definitely see where I can fit in,” Crawford said. “Out here you can’t really play passive, you have to be aggressive, and when you’re aggressive, it opens it up for your teammates. I definitely need to be more aggressive moving forward.”
The home team won both meetings between these clubs last season, but the Warriors have taken four of the last five overall matchups with the Celtics.