Fresh off a series where he struggled to stay in front of Chicago’s explosive Derrick Rose, Williams will have to deal with the even quicker Rajon Rondo when Cleveland opens Eastern Conference semifinal action against the Boston Celtics on Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena.
“He’s the engine to that team,” Williams said Thursday following practice at Cleveland Clinic Courts. “We know that. We just want to keep him out of the paint as much as possible.”
That is easier said than done, because the 6-foot-1, 186-pound Rondo may be the quickest player in the league.
Rondo can’t match the perimeter shooting ability of Rose, who averaged 26.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 7.2 assists in Chicago’s five-game series with the Cavaliers, but he usually gets anywhere he wants to go on the floor.
The fourth-year pro averaged 14.8 points on .424 shooting, 6.2 rebounds and 10.2 assists as Boston defeated Miami in five games in the first round.
“He’s gotten better every single season he’s played,” Williams said. “That’s why he was an All-Star this year.”
While the Celtics’ Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen still get a lot of the ink, Rondo very well may be Boston’s best – and most important – player.
When the University of Kentucky product is on top of his game — and especially when he’s making a few wide-open shots from the perimeter — Boston can be very tough to beat.
“This league is a lot about confidence,” Cleveland’s LeBron James said when asked about Rondo. “When you get confidence, it’s hard to take it away. He knew for that team to get better, he had to get better.”
Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said Williams will defend Rondo to open the series, but added the team will throw a lot of different looks at the Boston point guard. Delonte West, Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon and even James will likely defend Rondo at times.
In his 65-game postseason career, James has 1,920 points, 542 rebounds and 477 assists. No player in NBA history reached 1,900, 525 and 475, respectively, in that amount of games.
James is averaging 29.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 7.3 assists in his playoff career. No player with a minimum of 20 postseason games has averaged even 25.0, 7.0 and 6.0, respectively.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.