Sitting in the middle of a Las Vegas Nevada desert with temperatures soaring over 100 degrees, Rajon Rondo isn't feeling the Heat.
Fresh off a US team mini-camp practice, Rondo remarked “They should be good, but they ain’t done nothing yet" he said in reference to the power trio in Miami.
Boston, coming off a game 7 crunch-time loss to the Lakers in the NBA finals, are not the type of team that will roll over and concede to a changing of the guard. They are still stinging. Still hungry.
It's interesting how public sentiment ebbs and falls with a boxscore. Unfairly maybe. What many have already forgotten is just how close Boston came to winning a second title in 3 years. Had Boston packed just a few more of those four leaf clovers on their final trip to the Staples Center, we might all be talking about how Kobe Bryant's window was closing. Instead, Boston is apparently done. Don't tell Rondo.
"Our biggest opponent each night is ourselves...that’s how I look at it. Not to be cocky or anything, but that’s how we honestly feel. We are the defending champs" (I'm sure he meant Eastern Conference Champs). The Heat must take that title away.
The thing that jumps out about Miami, is that they appear setup for regular season basketball. The playoffs, however, are all about the sets. You must be able to crash the glass, and have a floor general to control your tempo.
Until we see what type of offense Spoelstra chooses to run in Miami, it's difficult to talk about match-ups; however, one would assume they will use their flexibility to adapt to each opponent a little different. That would mean a tempo game against Boston, trying to fatigue their aging legs. But will that work?
You see it every year come NCAA tourney time. They teams that execute in the half court sets, and bang on the glass, typically advance. Boston is set up for this kind of basketball. The key for an older Boston team is to control the pace of the game. The key is Rondo, and he know it.
“What is there to be nervous for?” Rondo mused. “I’m worried about L.A. That’s the team we need to beat. Miami looks really good on paper, and I’m sure they’re going to be really good, but they still have to come together as a team. I’m not saying they won’t, but who knows if those guys can jell?
You think 14 year old Rondo remember's the Lakers attempt in 2004? The ultimate "Dream Team" was constructed with 4, not 3, big names. As soon as Karl Malone and Gary Payton announced their intentions to join Shaq and Kobe, LA fans all but had the Larry O'Brien Trophy engraved before the playoffs even tipped off.
We all know how that worked out. The lakers all but abandoned their triangle offense and instead ran one-on-one moves, isolated pick-and-rolls, and dump-down ball into Shaquille O'Neal. They lacked something. It's a small intangible called chemistry. Hard to qualify. Easy to spot.
"It depends on those three guys in particular, how they accept their roles," Rondo said referring to James, Wade and Bosh. "Things aren’t going to go each guy’s particular way." How will they blend? It's easy to smile and be friends when an entire city is raising effigies for you and throwing a massive block party. How will they react when things don't go right? We don't know.
There are many variables that must fall in line. Many unforeseen hiccups along the way. Will Miami suffer any injuries? Will Eric Spoelstra find an offense that allows each player to mesh seamlessly? Rajon Rondo knows the complications could be algorithmic in nature and isn't worried.
Maybe that's why he's able to sit in the middle of a desert and not break a sweat.