All year long, basketball experts and fans have been debating over who is the third-best player on the Lakers’ roster after superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis. As a result of the trade to land Davis, the Lakers are extremely top-heavy compared to their top competition, and until now it’s been unclear exactly who the Lakers could rely on in the postseason. Will Kyle Kuzma make the long-awaited jump into stardom? Can Kentavious Caldwell-Pope deliver in the playoffs?
It turns out that everyone forgot about Playoff Rondo. Rajon Rondo, now 34 and in his ninth career playoff run, suffered a thumb fracture in July, and later experienced back spasms just when he was about to return against the Blazers in the Lakers’ last series. He finally returned to the court for Game 1 against the Rockets – and simply wasn’t very good. Rondo looked rusty, understandably, and finished the game -10 in 25 minutes with four turnovers.
It didn’t take him long to rediscover his old Boston playoff form, though. In Game 2, Rondo was +28 in the Lakers’ win, and finished with 10 points, nine assists and five steals off the bench. On Tuesday night, Rondo was brilliant as a playmaker and scorer in the fourth quarter, leading the Lakers to a 2-1 series lead with 11 points in the final period.
There was always a chance that Anthony Davis and LeBron James could have carried the Lakers through the playoffs on their own, but vintage Playoff Rondo gives the Lakers a vital secondary playmaker and takes pressure off of James. LeBron said after the win that he knows exactly the type of player Rondo can be in the postseason, and that he’s already delivering after a long layoff.
Via The Athletic:
“These last two games is everything we’ve imagined (him) being in the postseason. And for me, being in the playoffs and being on the opposing side of him for so many years, I knew what he was capable of, especially in the postseason.”