Defensive minded Bulls next for skidding Celtics

The way Rajon Rondo is creating turnovers, someone should hire him as a pastry chef.

His resume will tell you that he will assist in any task and is a willing glass cleaner and will do the tough work to score points with the boss…

…but he’s also a thief, so there’s that.

In reality, Rondo is a star.  He leads the NBA in assists per game and averages 13 points and over 5 rebounds per game.  He is fourth in the league in steals, hence the thief reference.  His intangibles are off the charts and is the Celtics most consistent performer night in and night out.

Dec 14, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo (9) dribbles the ball against the Houston Rockets in the first quarter at the Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

But those turnovers…not so yummy.

Rondo recorded his  second straight seven-turnover effort in Saturday’s 103-88 loss at San Antonio.  He has 33 turnovers over his last six games and is averaging 3.9 per game in that span.  While not exactly mired in a plague of errors, after a having a stretch like that it tends to get in your brain.

And when stuff like that gets in your brain, it tends to affect your overall game – and things don’t get any easier for Rondo and his turnover issues when he and his Boston Celtics meet the Bulls tonight in Chicago.

The Bulls feature a shutdown brand of defense that has translated to a 13-10 record, good for 1st place in the NBA’s Central division.  They don’t score a lot of points – their 92.3 points per game is 3rd from last in the NBA – but when you play the brand of defense the Bulls employ, it’s usually enough.

They don’t throw up a lot of 3 point shots, which is good because their percentage is among the league’s lows, but they are a wonderful free throw shooting team, when they get to the line.

Another of Chicago’s strengths is on the boards, where they are ranked in the top seven in the league in rebounds, averaging a full five more rebounds than Boston per game.  Rebounding has been an issue for the Celtics all season, particularly in the past three weeks, when they’ve been out rebounded 7 of their last 8 games.

Not surprisingly, the Celtics have struggled with consistency on both ends of the court in that time frame.

By no means is Rondo the only Celtic who has struggled with inconsistency this season, but being at the point in Boston’s attack puts his game more in focus, fair or not.

Chosen 21st overall in the 2006 NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns, he was traded to Boston and played a part-time role until earning the starting job at the beginning of the 2007/08 season, winning an NBA championship.  A three-time All Star, he is also a four-time All Defensive team member and has led the league in steals and assists in his brief career…

…which tells us that his issues are more a team-wide issue, and that they have to work through them together as a team.

The Celtics as a whole have struggled putting together an full 48 minutes, and at 12-11 sit 5 1/2 games behind the New York Knicks in the Atlantic Division.  And to struggle as they have this first quarter of the season and to still be both above .500 and competitive in a brutal division are a testament to the mental toughness of this team.

Their intestinal fortitude will win out in the end, and soon the Celtics will find themselves in their rightful spot towards the top of the Eastern Conference..but upcoming is a brutal 4 game stretch that sees them headed to the west coast, so the team knows that focus, hard work and finding consistency are going to be that much more important.

As will be avoiding those turnovers – because the kind of turnovers that you get in basketball leave a really bad taste in your mouth…

Topics: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls

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