Rondo: Doesn't matter who's guarding

Updated: May 11, 2010, 3:39 PM ET
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The day after his 29-point, 18-rebound, 13-assist effort, Rajon Rondo remained the center of attention as the Boston Celtics practiced on Monday.

Rondo
Rondo

But the focus had shifted slightly from his triple-double performance in what amounted to a must-win for the Celtics in Game 4 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Cavaliers, to whether he can have as much of an impact in Game 5 if Cleveland employs superstar LeBron James to defend him.

Rondo simply shrugged off the news that James expressed a desire to guard him in Tuesday's game.

"It really doesn't matter about the matchup," said Rondo. "Obviously, it's the playoffs and the big thing is matchups, but, to me, I don't really care who's guarding me. I gotta run the offense and in our system. If we get easy looks in transition, it doesn't matter who's guarding me."

Echoed Celtics captain Paul Pierce: "I'm not really concerned about [LeBron on Rondo]. We gotta get the ball to Rondo on the break, let him dictate the pace. It doesn't matter. We've got to get him open, set screens, cause different matchups for him. If they put LeBron on him, it really doesn't matter."

Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said Monday that he is reluctant to have James go head-to-head with Rondo because the two-time MVP has been doing such a good job at limiting Pierce.

Pierce is averaging just 11.8 points and shooting 32 percent in four games -- well below his season averages. Brown says if a smaller player guards Pierce, it could "open another can of worms."

"You put LeBron on Rondo when he's doing a nice job of making Paul work and you have to put a smaller guy on Paul and we all know what Paul is capable of doing," Brown said. "You do that for long stretches and it can open up a can of worms, and it puts some pressure on LeBron to work defensively throughout the entire game. We'll pick and choose our spots when to put LeBron on him."

Following Sunday's game, James said he wanted a shot at defending Rondo.

"I would love to,'' James said. "It's something we maybe should explore because Rondo is definitely dominating this series at the point guard position. For me, I don't have a problem taking Rondo or guarding Rondo throughout the course of the game. If the coaching staff or the guys want me to do it, I will."

The Cavaliers did little more than some light shooting and conditioning after returning home following their 97-87 loss on Sunday. The primary objective was to break down tape of Game 4.

"We watched, basically, the tape on him [Rondo]," said Cavaliers center Zydrunas Ilgauskas. "It's hard for one guy to stop him because he is that good. It's going to take all five. We always knew that he was a hell of a player.

"Maybe we were so worried about the Big Three that in some degree we're underestimating him and that was our biggest mistake."

Back in Boston, the Celtics likewise engaged in a light workout after watching film before flying to Cleveland. Overall, Rondo and the Celtics seemed unconcerned with the whole situation.

"We don't care who guards Rondo," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "We still have to run our stuff. It's not like we're going to stop running our offense. We anticipated [James on Rondo], I've only talked about it for three games now. We know it's going to come at some point in the series. When it does, we have to find a way of using Rondo and make sure he's still a facilitator."

Rondo noted that having a superstar defender would be nothing new to him. During the 2008 NBA Finals, the Lakers often put Kobe Bryant on Rondo and allowed him to float since Boston's then second-year guard couldn't hurt Los Angeles with his outside shot.

"It's happened before," said Rondo. "LeBron is going to be LeBron. He's a great help defender, so he's going to be helping [regardless of who he covers]. He's a good defender. [The Lakers] did that a couple years ago when Kobe [Bryant] was checking me during the Finals. I'm used to bigger guys guarding me and giving me the shot and challenging me late because of their wingspan. You know, [Anthony] Parker is 6-7, 6-6. He's not LeBron, but he's similar. Not first-team All-Defense, but he's a good defender."

The Cavaliers could keep Parker on Rondo and simply utilize James as help defense on Rondo, who is averaging 21.8 points, 13 assists, and 8.3 rebounds per game this series. Rondo started to draw extra attention late in Game 4.

"Rondo, I think, is considered an offensive player now," said Rivers. "[The help defense] messed Rondo up. He had to deal with the help, too. He was saying, 'Man, there's no room.' I told him, 'Now you know how it feels to the other guys when they're helping off you.' It was probably good for him to see it."

Chris Forsberg is the Celtics reporter for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter. Inforamtion from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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