Heat to play Rajon Rondo same
But they are not going to let it change their game plan.
Rondo had a playoff game for the ages with 44 points, 10 assists and 8 rebounds Wednesday, but the Boston Celtics still lost in overtime to go down 2-0 in the series.
The Heat say they'll stick to the scouting report in dealing with Rondo heading into Friday night's Game 3. They do not plan, going into the game at least, to radically alter who defends Rondo -- such as increasing the time Dwyane Wade might guard him or making LeBron James an option. And they are still going to dare him to beat them with his jumper.
"We'll try to get up there and challenge him as much as possible," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "But we understand how much of an impact he really can have when he gets into the paint and gets everyone involved."
Spoelstra is a devotee of numbers and the numbers say that is a smart decision. Rondo made 11 of 13 jumpers during his masterful Game 2 show, which is great for any shooter on the planet. For Rondo it was winning-the-lottery rare.
There was a reason he was getting those shots. The Heat, like every other team in the league, know Rondo is more routinely dangerous as a creator when he penetrates than when he's left open to shoot. This season, according to stats from Hoopdata.com, Rondo shot 28 percent on shots 10-15 feet from the basket and 39 percent on shots from 16-23 feet.
So the Heat will continue to back off him and try to make him repeat the shooting effort. They're more concerned about Rondo racking up 15-18 assists, something he does on a regular basis in Celtics victories, than they are with him going 16-of-24 on shooting again.
"Some of that is he had it rolling," Heat forward Shane Battier said. "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."
All you need to see is the charts and graphs in Spoelstra's game plan binder to know which way the coach is going to gamble.
"We're going to stay with our game plan and try to execute our defense the way we normally do," Wade said.