BOSTON — Usually, when a player has a big game in a playoff series, it calls for an adjustment by the opposing defense. But Rajon Rondo‘s 44 points in Game 2 was quite the anomaly, not just in the volume of points, but in the way they were scored.
Prior to Wednesday, Rondo had never made more than six shots from outside the paint in a game. In Game 2, he made 11. His jumper, maligned by so many people (including the President of the United States), isn’t all that bad actually.
“He’s not as bad as everyone makes it out,” Shane Battier said after Heat shootaround on Friday. “He can make dribble jump shots.”
But that doesn’t mean that the Heat are going to make a major change to the way they defend Rondo in Game 3 (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). No matter who you are, shooting 11-for-13 from outside the paint is not sustainable.
“There are tweaks [to be made],” Battier said. “Some of that is he had it rolling. If you believe in the numbers and regression to the mean, then you live with that. If you don’t, then you scrap that and go for something else.”
Hint: Both Battier and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra believe in the numbers. So expect the Heat to continue to protect the paint against Rondo and be satisfied if he’s taking more jumpers than layups.
“We’ll try to get up there and challenge him as much as possible,” Spoelstra said, “but we understand how much of an impact he really can have when he gets into the paint, to the rim, and, more importantly, getting everyone else involved. But it’s a tough balance.”
“He had a phenomenal game,” Battier added. “Could we have done things better? Yeah. You can always do things better. But let’s see if he can put up another performance like that again.”