BOSTON -- In the aftermath of another subpar outing in Wednesday's overtime triumph over the Detroit Pistons, Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo admitted he's marred in a bit of an individual slump and trying to find his way out of it.
"I’ve not been myself," said Rondo. "I haven’t been as aggressive. I haven’t been making shots. I've been turning the ball over. Like I said, a lot of losses I put on myself. I have to find a better rhythm."
Rondo finished Wednesday's game with 2 points on 1-of-6 shooting with 8 assists, 3 rebounds, 3 steals and 4 turnovers over 34 minutes. He was a solid plus-12 in plus/minus, but found himself on the bench at a particularly key moment of the game amid his struggles.
Rondo has scored only 2 points in each of his last three outings. His stat line over his last seven games: 5.7 points on 34.6 percent shooting, 10.1 assists, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.3 turnovers per game.
Rondo's individual struggles have been most noticeable in the fourth quarter when games have routinely slipped away from Boston (even on Wednesday the team let an 11-point lead evaporate over the final 3:28 of regulation before pulling away in overtime). In the fourth quarter of games this season, Rondo is now 8-of-33 shooting (a team-worst 24.2 percent) with 34 assists, 14 turnovers, and is minus-50 overall in plus/minus.
What's the cause of his woes?
"I don’t really have that answer," said Rondo. "If I had that, I’d probably figure it out. I’m still confident in myself, still believing in myself. That hasn’t shied away from my game and I’ll continue to do better."
Earlier this week we analyzed Rondo's first month of the season. He's alternated between being a brilliant playmaker and enduring impossible struggles, particularly at the free throw line.
Those charity stripe concerns actually led Celtics coach Brad Stevens to playing Rondo off the ball at times in the fourth quarter on Wednesday night, not allowing Detroit to foul him as they attempted to rally. What's more, Rondo spent one possession on the bench in the waning seconds of regulation to ensure he wouldn't be fouled.
Stevens said after the game that, "I took [Rondo] out the one time and I immediately regretted it. It felt like I should have had him back in, so I had him taking the ball out [of bounds on inbounds plays] the rest of the time."
Rondo has done an excellent job of making the players around him better for most of the season, but the Celtics so desperately need Rondo to be a consistent game-changing force. He needs to generate more of his own offense and be a better perimeter defender for the Celtics to truly thrive.
Rondo has maintained an optimistic approach in the face of both his own struggles and that of the team. But a big part of the Celtics overcoming their team woes is Rondo finding a way to get past his individual ones as well.