Boston's Ray Allen is having an incredible year, shooting nearly 56 percent from the floor and an astonishing (even for him) 63 percent from long range. He's missed just four free throws in 31 tries, while averaging 19 points per game.
Kevin Garnett is still dashing all over the place defensively, helping to hold together a Boston defense that is full of holes at this point in the season. The Celtics are ranked 20th in defensive efficiency, but Garnett isn't the reason why. And Paul Pierce? The team was lost without him, but now competing with him following The Truth's return from a heel injury.
Doesn't matter, says C's coach Doc Rivers. This is Rajon Rondo's team now. Doc said as much to the media following Wednesday's loss to the Mavericks, via CSNNE.com and A. Sherrod Blakely:
"This is his team right now," said coach Doc Rivers.
"Rondo's just playing terrific," Rivers said. "And we've got to allow him to be terrific. We shouldn't get in his way."
Rondo's unique game should preclude us from comparing him to his point guard peers, but orthodox stats like 52 percent shooting along with 16 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and two steals per game do translate to those who just don't understand why the guy can't hit a free throw. Rondo won't be winning games in the final seconds with 20-foot daggers anytime soon like Derrick Rose, and he's not going to pile up 10 of a team's 12 points in a game-deciding fourth quarter run like Russell Westbrook.
What he does do is run a team, not unlike the man he was nearly traded for in Los Angeles' Chris Paul. "Running a team" often translates to dominating the ball, which helps a player pile up those stats, but with a group like these Celtics a player of Rondo's caliber is more than needed. And with the type of season he's having, despite those four turnovers a game, Rivers is right to demand that his veteran players not get in Rondo's way.
This has to change at some point, though. The C's are 4-5 and Allen's hot touch can't last forever. Pierce has an injury that doesn't tend to heal itself over the course of a 66-game-in-124-day schedule, and KG's wheels are always in danger of flying off. The helpers have to get their stuff together. Jermaine O'Neal, Marquis Daniels, Chris Wilcox and Mickael Pietrus have to start contributing, and the squad has to find a way to win some of these coin flip games in the latter stages. Because, if we're honest, the solid contributions from Keyon Dooling (sporting a 65 percent True Shooting Percentage!), Greg Steimsma and (to a far lesser extent) Brandon Bass might not sustain.
Rondo's team, for sure, but this group is going to have to start running 10-deep if it wants another chance at the Finals.