Alright Celtics fans it’s official. Rajon Rondo is officially out for now the third straight game of the series. After taking over the first two games, he will now be sitting out the third in a row. It seems to have made a pretty big impact on the series as well. It’s pretty simple. 2-0 with Rondo starting, and 0-2 with him not. For the matchup tonight even Vegas has Boston as a 7.5 point favorite with the series being tied 2-2. But is Rajon Rondo really the X factor in this series? It seemed no Celtics fans or basketball experts really thought he would make a big difference. Even now 4 games into the series, many are denying the fact that he makes the Bulls that much better. But the truth is Rondo changed this series, and no one expected it. Sure there were many other reasons why Boston dropped the first two games, but a lot of it had to do with number 9 on Chicago.
To understand the Rondo effect, you must understand the negative effect it has. When Rondo doesn’t want to play, he gives up. When his team is losing, his stats go down. When things aren’t going his way, he doesn’t want to play. It’s how Rondo has been his whole career. Looking back on his last year in Boston. The team wasn’t winning, his numbers weren’t great and it showed the bad side of Rondo. Taking a game off to go celebrate his 28th birthday, for example, was one of the bad decisions he had made in his career. But when Rondo is on, he plays like a star in the league.
I know what fans may think. This whole article is an overreaction of two games played by a run-down washed up player in the league. But hold on, before you throw these games out the window. Let’s get into the advanced metrics.
The main theory of the Rondo effect is when he plays well, so does his team. Or maybe, when his team plays well so does he. This has been a trend shown throughout his career. If you don’t believe me, look at the numbers. Rondo is a career 50% shooter from the field during games in which his team won. During his teams loosing efforts, Rondo shoots 43%. Three point shooting is 32% in team wins, and 29% when his team loses. Not a big difference until you actually see the stats. Rondo has won more than 70 games more than he’s lost over his career. However, he’s managed to throw up more three point attempts in those 321 losses than he had in the 393 career wins. Reason? He gets lazy when his team is down and starts chucking shots. Even though his minutes remain almost exactly the same regardless of the outcome, his points, assists and rebounds all go up during the games his team wins. Free throw percentage also manages to go all the way up to 63% during wins as opposed to 58% during losses. So point proven. Success of team = Success of Rondo.
Those numbers explain his offensive efficiency, but what about the defensive efficiency? Many can argue defense is much more about effort than offense. You don’t see many lazy first team defense guys. So let’s check out his defensive numbers. Rondo almost doubled his block total in his wins than his loses. His steals went way up as well. Totaling over 200 more steals during his winning games, even though it was only a 70 game difference. This is not just on offense, defensively Rondo makes an impact when his team wins.
There was a point in the year when the Bulls were losing and so was Rondo. He ended up getting benched for a portion of the season and the Bulls continued to lose games. However, as the playoff stretch came to a close, Rondo was put back into the lineup and began to take over games. The first two games of the playoffs, the Bulls were winning and he had a reason to play. He became a star in the series and a big reason why the Bulls took the first two. Now with Rondo out, once again Chicago is missing a big piece and it could cost them the series.