Rondo’s Temper

Rajon Rondo’s temper has caused problems for him and the Celtics in the past, but when he lost his composure in Boston’s playoff opener in Atlanta, he destroyed any chance his team had of winning the game and depending on how long he is suspended for, the whole series. With the Celts down by four late in the fourth quarter, Brandon Bass was whistled for a loose ball foul on Josh Smith. Rondo immediately yelled in the official’s face, earning him a technical foul. That was a big enough mistake considering how close the game was with just 41 seconds left. But then he made the situation even worse by continuing to yell at the official and ended up stepping toward him and bumping him in the back with his chest puffed out. At that point the official rightfully ejected him with a second technical.

The Hawks looked like they were going to pull out the Game 1 victory anyway, but Rondo might have just cost his team the series. Although Rondo claimed he didn’t intentionally bump into the ref, it’s pretty clear from the highlight that he lost control in his state of anger. The refs should be completely and absolutely untouchable. It’s understandable when players get upset with each other in a physical game, but when a player makes a move on an official, even if it’s a small bump like this, it opens up a scary realm of possibility for future players who lose control. In the heat of the moment, it’s hard for guys so competitive to calm down and think rationally, and after seeing what Rondo did, it’s hard to say that the idea hasn’t been planted that refs aren’t completely off-limits anymore. That’s not to say players will gun for officials now, but Rondo’s bump was a scary moment because it was an eye-opener as to what could happen if a player loses control and takes his anger out on the official. I think the bump will only earn him a one-game suspension and I think that punishment is adequate. It certainly doesn’t deserve punishment similar to Ron Artest after he brutally elbowed James Harden in the head. But whatever the punishment, Boston has now lost their floor leader and facilitator for a critical Game 2 in Atlanta. The Celtics are capable of winning without Rondo, but after they came out so sluggish yesterday, they could use all the help they can get.

Rajon Rondo made a costly mistake that could cost his team another game and maybe even the series.

It’s unfortunate Rondo can’t control his temper, because he had the best game of anyone on the Celtics, keeping them within striking distance despite a horrendous first half. Rondo finished with 20 points, 11 assists and 4 rebounds before his ejection. Kevin Garnett recovered from a poor first half and ended up with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Paul Pierce had an awful shooting night (5-for-19) and finished with just 12 points, and Brandon Bass wasn’t much better, going 3-for-7 for 8 points. To make matters worse, the Celtics got a total of four points from their bench, Ray Allen sat out and Avery Bradley contributed to Boston’s poor shooting night with a 4-for-12 performance.

And yet the Celtics were still somehow in the game at the end. From the Hawks’ perspective, this has to be somewhat troublesome going forward. Josh Smith played lights out, tacking on 22 points, 18 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 block. His performance covered for Joe Johnson, who only had 11 points on the night. Fortunately for Atlanta, Jeff Teague and Kirk Hinrich were able to score semi-effectively, tallying a combined 27 points. But unless that kind of contribution from their role players (and their bench, who outscored Boston’s bench 17-4), the Hawks could be in trouble in Boston when Rondo is back on the court and the shots start falling. Unfortunately for the Celts, the Hawks superior record gives them home-court advantage despite Boston having the higher seed. And now that Rondo will likely serve a one or two game suspension, a critical Game 2 in Atlanta almost becomes a must-win for the Celtics. No one can take anything away from what Rondo and the Celtics have accomplished this season after everyone said they were washed up and that they should trade Rondo. But after a costly blowup like this, fans have got to wonder about how much trust they can place in their gifted point guard when he can’t control his temper long enough to stay on the court.

The Hawks can take advantage of Rondo's absence, but they'll need to consistently help Josh Smith out on offense.

2012 All-Star Snubs

There are six players that definitely should have been All-Star reserves, along with a few honorable mentions that are open to debate. Here are the biggest snubs of the 2012 All-Star game.

Top 3 East Snubs:

1) Josh Smith – If the Hawks were to have somebody make the cut, it should have been this guy. He’s been doing everything for Atlanta this year (points, rebounds and blocks) and is the biggest All-Star snub overall.

"How are you gonna leave me hanging like that?"

2) Danny Granger – Hibbert has had a solid season, but why put a Pacer in the All-Star game if it’s not their leader Danny Granger? I’m not just saying that as a Lobos fan (Danny Granger is a UNM alum), but Granger is the center-piece in what is becoming an impressive Indiana squad.

They chose the wrong Pacer

3) Brandon Jennings -Milwaukee’s young point guard has been leading the Bucks all year, even when Bogut was on the floor. And although the Bucks aren’t a terrific team, his absence from the All-Star game is unfortunate because he should have been strongly considered as a reserve.

Jennings was close, but not close enough

East Honorable Mentions:
Rajon Rondo – I honestly don’t think Rondo should have gotten in over Deron Williams or Andre Iguodala for a guard spot, but he is the new leader of the Celtics and deserves a spot on the “what if?” list.
Ryan Anderson – Anderson has really stepped up this season for the Magic, and although his numbers aren’t fantastic, he may be considered more strongly next year if he continues to improve.

Top 3 West Snubs:

1) Rudy Gay – Gay is the biggest snub in the West and if any member of the Grizzlies should have made the All-Star lineup, it should have been him. Marc Gasol’s inclusion is questionable when one considers Rudy Gay’s great season.

The best player on Memphis didn't make the cut

2) Danilo Gallinari – Although his injury ruined any chance at making the All-Star game, Gallinari has led the Nuggets this season and without him, the team has taken a small dive. When he was healthy, the Nuggets were a formidable force and it’s a shame they won’t have Gallinari represent them in the All-Star game.

Sure he's hurt. But if he wasn't, he would be an All-Star

3) Pau Gasol – Fans and coaches chose the wrong Gasol this year. I personally wouldn’t have liked seeing three Lakers in the All-Star lineup, but Pau should have taken that center reserve spot.

"Dibs on next year's All-Star game"

Honorable mentions:

Monta Ellis – The Warriors aren’t a tremendous team but I’d rather see a young and exciting talent like Monta make the list than an older and already accomplished player like Steve Nash. Sure Nash is leading the league in assists this season, but his spot in the lineup seems to be more like a lifetime achievement award than a real testament to the kind of season he’s having (along with Dirk and Paul Pierce).
James Harden – Maybe I’m a little bit biased as an ASU fan, but James Harden is going to be an All-Star one day. He’s a lock for this year’s 6th Man award and is a huge reason for the Thunder’s success due to his ability to produce off the bench. And that beard. You can’t ignore a beard like that!

How can you not cheer for this guy??

Others: Kyle Lowry, Paul Millsap, Tyson Chandler, Lou Williams, Tyreke Evans, Greg Monroe