Rajon Rondo shows flashes of brilliance in debut with Mavericks
Rondo didn’t have an eye-popping debut in Dallas, but a typically solid night from the point guard helped the Mavericks win over a depleted Spurs team.
Rajon Rondo has never been a sharpshooter. Sure, he can take over a game by scoring in droves, but Rondo’s value has always been in the little things he does — like knowing when to sit back and let a teammate take over. Which is exactly what he did in his debut with the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday as Monta Ellis took over down the stretch against the San Antonio Spurs, netting 38 points in a 99-93 win.
Rondo and the Mavericks will continue to be a work in progress, but after one game, there were some bright spots.
The Mavericks couldn’t shoot, but still won
Rondo shot poorly in his debut, going 3-11 from the field and 0-1 from behind the arc, but still filled up his stat line with six points, seven rebounds, nine assists and two steals. Most importantly for the Mavericks, he was instrumental in the win on a night that Dallas didn’t play that well — even if it was against a Spurs team that was missing Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard.
Without their stars, the Spurs played a zone much of the night. It caused the Mavericks fits. Dallas shot 38 percent in the first half and made 5-16 from three — and that was with Ellis going 4-4. Nothing was falling for anyone but Ellis, Dirk Nowitzki was 4-14 from the field and had just 13 points. Luckily for the Mavericks, Rondo eventually found a way into the seams of the zone defense. He facilitated some easy buckets for Dallas. And he stayed out of the way once Ellis took over in the fourth quarter.
Rondo and Ellis can play together
There are questions as to whether the two guards can coexist, but if their first game together is any indication, they’ll be fine. Rondo and Ellis both like to have the ball in their hands, but Rondo has been in situations like this before. He doesn’t have to be the go-to guy — he was happy to let Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett or Ray Allen take over. And he appears ready to do the same in Dallas.
“He scored 38 points so I didn’t hold him back too much,” Rondo told SB Nation after the game. “We both like to dominate the ball but I think we both played well off each other.”
Ellis was appreciative of his new backcourt mate. “[Rondo] was great,” Ellis said. “He’s still got to get a feel for it, but he did a wonderful job of finding guys.”
Rondo is averaging 8.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 10.7 assists per game this season, his debut with the Mavericks fell just short of those marks. Yes, things will get tougher for the Mavericks. They had to fight to beat a Spurs team of reserve players that had no business staying close to the Mavericks. A loss to that team in Rondo’s first appearance as a Maverick would have been disastrous. But instead, they picked up a win on a night they didn’t play well.
Like every team that rebuilds or adds a new piece in the middle of a season, there will be growing pains. But adding Rondo to the mix makes Dallas even more dangerous than they already were. As he fits into the fold with Ellis, Nowitzki and Chandler Parsons, the Mavericks offense could become even more potent.
The new core has yet to participate in a full practice together. Saturday night’s win over the Spurs left plenty to be desired, but the Mavericks have the tools to live up to expectations.