Saturday, November 29, 2014

Rondo blames himself for loss against Bulls

Photo: Boston Globe
Rajon Rondo missed the biggest free throws of the game for the Celtics in yesterday's matinee against the Chicago Bulls at TD Garden.

Friday's 109-102 loss to the Bulls was the Celtics' ninth of the season. After the C's blew a 16-point lead, Rondo had a chance to give his team a two-point advantage but instead missed a pair of freebees in the last minute of the game. Celtics have now dropped six of their last seven games.
"It's very frustrating, in particular this game," Rondo said. "If I make my free throws, I think we win the game."
Rondo is currently shooting a career-low 32 percent from the foul line. But seeing the veteran point guard miss free throws isn't something we've haven't seen before, he's a 61.6 percent career free throw shooter, but now it's starting to affect the outcome of games.

Less than two weeks ago, Rondo was fouled shooting a three-pointer with two seconds left in a game at home against the Phoenix Suns. The Celtics were down by three, and Rondo failed to send his team into overtime when he missed all three free throws.
"I don't have a clue really, still trying to figure it out," Rondo said. "I continue to work on my game and especially get some more free throws up."
If Celtics' starting point guard doesn't get it together, teams will start to take advantage of his free throw shooting weakness. It's only a matter of time before opponents start intentionally fouling him in late-game situations, just to prevent the Celtics from scoring.

The best way for Rondo to become a better free throw shooter is by getting himself to the line more often. Yes, he is shooting 32 percent but he has only taken 28 free throws this season. In the 12 games he's played in, Rondo hasn't been taking the ball to the hoop nearly as often as he did in the past.

We've seen Rajon miss a lot of free throws throughout his nine-year career and one thing I've noticed is that his chances of making them increase throughout a game when he's shooting them more frequently. But he shies away from trying to get to the line. Yesterday's two crucial foul shots were his only attempts all game.

Rondo's highest season average in free throws attempted was in the 2009-10 season when he averaged 3.5. At this stage of his career (nine year veteran), Rondo should be averaging at least four to six free throw attempts per game. This season's 2.3 average is not going to make him any better.

When Rajon made his surprise return from his off season hand injury Opening Night, we knew it was going to take a handful of games for him to get acclimated to his repaired left hand. But now he's 12 games in, it's time for Rondo to be aggressive; take more layups, draw fouls and get himself to the line. It will make him a better free throw shooter and could boost his point average up to 12-13 points per game.

Rondo can spend all day and night in Waltham practicing his free throws but it's not going to make him a better shooter at the charity stripe. Only in-game foul line shots will help him improve; lots of them, otherwise when he shoots from the line he will continue to brick.

Josue Pavon

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