Philadelphia 76ers’ Jrue Holiday has made it clear this season that he is a good young PG. Under Doug Collins’ tutelage he made strides that some people doubted he’d make transitioning from the two-guard at UCLA a couple seasons ago, to a more than capable lead guard in the Association. This past series with the Heat was almost a celebration of his development in some respects, as we watched him out-play the combination of Mike Bibby and Mario Chalmers all series long. Which is great for Jrue Holiday, but a major issue for the Heat moving forward.
In the five game first round series, Holiday’s playoff debut, he personally out-scored the Bibby/Chalmers combination (14.2 to 10.6) and dished out more assists (5.6 to 3.0) than the both of them as well on average throughout the series. He also grabbed 3.8 rebounds per game by himself, while those two together managed to grab only 0.4 more (4.2). And while Jrue Holiday is good and all that, if he can do this to these guys, Rajon Rondo is going to exploit them beyond comprehension.
For his efforts in the Celtics four-game first round series with the Knicks, Rondo walked away with numbers that read 19 points, 12 assists and 7.3 rebounds per game, and I literally have no idea how Miami plans to cover him. You can talk all you want about how Mario Chalmers is a better defender than Mike Bibby, but that doesn’t make him a good defender. Or one who has any chance of slowing Rondo for that matter. Miami has the option of moving LeBron over on Rondo too if they’d like – which maybe, might, slow him some – but even if it would I doubt Coach Spo wants ‘Bron ‘Bron chasing Rondo all over the floor all game long. I also doubt that LeBron would let Spo make him do that if he wanted him to.
If you look at last year’s Cavaliers they were pretty similar at the PG position, or almost better in a lot of ways, than Miami is currently constructed. Would you rather have Mo Williams/Delonte West or Mike Bibby/Mario Chalmers? Is there a difference? As Mike Brown watched Rondo crush his combination of PG’s last season, he rolled LeBron over on Rondo some a season ago but it was too late by then. Rondo’s damage was done, as he averaged 21 points, 12 assists, and 6 rebounds in the Conference Semi-Finals last season, and was the best player on the floor all series long. Rondo ran completely rampant over LeBron and those Cavaliers, and I see him picking up where he left off starting Sunday down in Miami.
For all the mismatches LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade present to teams, there is no more of a lopsided mismatch in this series than the one that Rondo presents the Heat. LeBron James/Paul Pierce? Dwayne Wade/Ray Allen? Sure those obviously favor the Heat but Ray and Paul make that far from a laugher. Then you go Bosh/KG? I’d give that to Garnett, and think most people would too.
The Heat’s best chance of countering Rondo would be to play LeBron solely at the PG position. Start another wing player, and go bigger. Make Rondo match-up with LeBron, and have James approach the game not worried about getting points. Or worried about what people will think of him if he only scores 10 per game, and focuses on trying to shut down Rondo for 48 minutes. That would be their best chance to win, but LeBron will never do that. He doesn’t want to be Magic, he wants to get his.
Which puts Chalmers and Bibby on the floor in the first place, and in turn creates major opportunity here for Rondo starting Sunday. One he will capitalize on in record setting proportions. That’s my prediction, even if Mike D’Antoni doesn’t agree with me on that.