Latest News, NBA / May 10, 2010 / 12:15 pm

LeBron wants to guard Rondo

LeBron James (photo. Nike)

Just like any single game or playoff series involving the Cleveland Cavaliers, the two biggest matchup questions going into this Cavs/Celtics conference semifinal were, “Who’s going to guard LeBron?” and “How are they going to guard LeBron?”

Now that the series is tied up heading into Game 5, the focus has changed. If the Cavs are going to avoid being upset earlier than expected again, they need to figure out with whom and how they’re going to defend Rajon Rondo.

In the best all-purpose performance of any NBA player this postseason, Rondo put up 29 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists in yesterday’s Game 4, controlling the action all over the court and igniting a transition attack that left the supposed-to-be more athletic Cavs in the dust. Now, according to ESPN’s Peter May, LeBron himself has asked to take on the job of guarding Rondo from here on out:

If LeBron has any say in the matter, it could well happen. In fact, according to one courtside observer, James and Cleveland coach Mike Brown got into a heated discussion about whether James should cover Rondo at the critical moments of the fourth quarter. Brown ultimately decided against it, but that could change moving forward.

“I would love to,” James said after Rondo had eviscerated the Cavs with 29 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists. “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.”

He may have to. The Cavaliers have had no answer for Rondo, who is averaging 21.8 points, 13 assists and 8.3 rebounds in the 2-2 series. (Take away Game 3 and the numbers are 23, 14.7 and 9.3.) James takes pride in his defense and, he noted after Game 4, he had moved to guard Derrick Rose in the first-round series with the Bulls. There also was a memorable mano-a-mano switch-over to Miami’s Dwyane Wade during the regular season.

“When the opportunity does present itself, or if it does present itself, I would take the challenge,” James said of guarding Rondo.

When the Lakers were getting lit up by Russell Westbrook in their first-round series, it took Phil Jackson until Game 5 to finally yank Derek Fisher from that mismatch and hand the assignment to First Team All-Defensive staple Kobe Bryant. With Kobe keeping Westbrook somewhat in check, the Lakers swept the last two games of the series and are on the fast track to another NBA Finals.

LeBron made the All-Defensive First Team as well, but it was mainly on the strength of his highlight-reel blocks off the backboard and steals that lead to more highlight-reel dunks. He’s not particularly known as a lockdown 1-on-1 guy, but he’s done it before. His own defensive assignment, Paul Pierce, is averaging just 11.7 points on 32% shooting in this series.

Cleveland’s best athlete and defender at least deserves a crack at Rondo, seeing as Anthony Parker and Mo Williams haven’t been able to contain the 6-foot-1 speedster. And as far as who would guard Pierce if LeBron switches onto Rondo, that would likely be Parker. Although Pierce is theoretically Boston’s top offensive threat, AP would actually match up better with him than with the shifty Rondo. And it’s not like Parker is a bad defender. He’s just at the wrong end of a mismatch. LeBron is a physical mismatch for damn near everybody in the League, so let’s see how if can handle the Cavs’ biggest problem.

How do you think the Cavs should game plan for Rondo?

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  • Danny D

    I hear there’s a good word for “supposed-to-be”: supposedly

  • http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/703154723/the-soulchorea-project?pos=1 Kermit The Washington

    This sounds like it’s gonna backfire. It sounds like they’re (or at least LeBron is) already panicking. And if they make this “adjustment”, then it will be Paul Pierce’s time to do his thing. He has to shine, at least just for this one game 5, to make them pay for putting their best player chase the point guard around.

  • http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/703154723/the-soulchorea-project?pos=1 Kermit The Washington

    putting = making sorry

  • sh!tfaced

    Might be just what Paul Pierce needs to finally get going.

    The PGs are dominating the playoffs, Nash, Rondo, Jameer, Deron, and even Fisher has made himself useful. While most wingmen seem to be struggling, Joe Johnson, VC, RJ, Pierce, Manu’s last game was forgettable.

  • Alex “robocop” Murphy

    I’m guessing Shaq didn’t want to volunteer to guard Rondo?

  • http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/703154723/the-soulchorea-project?pos=1 Kermit The Washington

    Even if Parker’s a decent defender, Pierce’s eyes will light up. He hasn’t had a breakout game yet; game 5 could be it!

  • LakeShow84

    This opens Pierce’s games up..

    That would be interesting to see tho.. Lebron guard Rondo.. Then we can REALLY see how fast Lebron is.. Rondo aint no joke as far as quicks go but neither is LBJ.

  • K

    I see lebron guarding rondo rondo getting his assist and reb and less PTs but pierce getting 25+ . Celtics win.

    Side note how much money someone wants to bet that Bavetta is reffing the next game.

  • mules

    they should just sign Tim Duncan’s elbow to gaurd him

  • http://nerditry.com nerditry

    Could the Cavs use Powe to guard Pierce?

    This just goes along with the fact that most everyone aside from Jamison/Varejao on Cleveland is a bum.

    Replace LBJ with Kobe and that’s no better than a regular season 4th place finish in the East.

  • control

    Parker could probably guard PP enough to hold him to 15-20. LeBron should be able to completely take Rondo out, which would completely take Boston out, because even a hater like I am can admit that Rondo is pretty much the only guy who is stepping up for them.


    Valgina is a bum too, so that means you are pretty much just saying Jamison is the only other good guy on the Cavs, and I agree with ya.

  • http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/703154723/the-soulchorea-project?pos=1 Kermit The Washington

    @ K:

    I was thinking the same dang thing about Bavetta, seriously…I say Bavetta refs game 5 and helps the Celts steal it, and then Cavs get a blowout win in game 6

  • isotope

    nerditry? Really? Can THAT much be said about the Lakers outside of Kobe and Gaso. Is Bynum/Odom/Fisher/Farmar that much better than Williams/Hickson/Shaq/Z/Parker? I’ll give you that the Lakers have a better coach but i’m not buying that about the supporting cast. That team was put together just for Lebron. They gave him all he wanted and now people are complaining that it isn’t enough? SMH

  • http://dimemag.com bullet380

    Where in the article does it say Lebron came out WANTING to guard Rondo? I see him saying, “when the opportunity presents itself” and “I would love to”, but he doesn’t flat out say, “I got Rondo next game”. I like Lebron, but Kobe went to Phil and said, “I got Westbrook”. He took it upon himself. I don’t see Lebron doing that in this article.

  • karizmatic

    I don’t think they should do anything about Rondo, he had a good game, Rondo is a nice player, but I think LBJ is more important if he continues to shackle Pierce, there are other guys they have that might be better matchups on Rondo is they choose to use them.

  • http://nerditry.com nerditry

    @Isotope – I can’t believe you’re asking that so yes, Odom and Bynum are better than everyone on the Cavs not named Lebron and Antawn.

    If you had a healthy Lakers all season and put Bron on that team instead of Kobe, they’re looking at a potential 70-win season. James is interested in finding his teammates and it’s a rare thing to have a 7 ft PF/C (Gasol) who has exceptional footwork and great hands to catch passes into the low post.

    That Lakers team is capable of running all the time, but with Kobe as primary ball handler, they play the triangle and more half court sets.

    At their best, the Cavs would be lucky to get one game off the Lakers playing their best in a 7 game series.

  • http://www.getbuckets.anywhere.com Chicagorilla

    Just to chime in during lunch break:

    ~~How did LBJ guarding D.Rose work out? Not to well, he damn near got his ankles snatched from his body. I was at the game and watched as Rose toyed with him as he tried his best to get in a low defensive stance like he actually knew how to play defense. so yes, Rondo would carve his a$$ up too. But if Bron can take out Rondo, then the C’s lose. No matter what PP does. Rondo is their playmaker since the offense is running through his hands.

    ~~The Lakers supporting cast is 150X’s better than the Cavs. Gasol, Bynum, Odom, Artest… all four could be all-stars any year. Thats not to mention Shannon Brown, Fisher (no “D” but shot maker and Clutch), Luke Walton (was one of better bench players until recently), Sasha and the most important pieces Coach Phil Jackson and Coach Tex Winter. put that against Mike Brown, 38yr old Shaq, Old and Slow Zandrunus, Mo Williams, Candace Parkers brother, JJ Hicksen, Vajayjay, Jamison, Jamario Moon, Delonte West, and a few others.
    Actually, looking at that list, it’s not so much that they suck, they are just perfect role players to piece around Bron because they all space the floor or rebound.

  • isotope

    You mean Bynum of the 0 points and 4 rebounds his last game or Odom’s 8 and 8? Versus Shaq’s 17 and 5? William’s 13 points? Tell me, out of the above four players, who is MOST likely to go for 20 points any given night? If you don’t say Mo Williams then I’m wasting my time with this conversation.

    When the Lakers were struggling against the Thunder, no one said Kobe and Gasol need more help. The Cavs were good enough to have the best record in the regular season. No excuses then, no excuses now.

  • kudos

    nerditry- I don’t know you, but i gotta tell you that if you think ODOM + BYNUM are better than shaq, delonte, or even mo YOU’sir must not know much about ball. Odom is extremely inconsistent, and fails to show up even 1/3 games. And bynum??!? Laughable, as his defense is horrid, his offense is nothing special, and he can’t pass either. So what if he’s 7 foot. He isn’t much better than z.

    Don’t be so mad if an already stacked cavs team full of 5-former all stars can’t take lebron to the finals. It’s not the team’s fault, it’s lebrons.

  • isotope

    “Actually, looking at that list, it’s not so much that they suck, they are just perfect role players to piece around Bron because they all space the floor or rebound.”

    Exactly! Mo was balling in Milwaukee. Jamison pretty much owned the Wizards sans Arenas.

  • fallinup

    I’d love to see Bron try and guard Rondo. I’d give him until the middle of the 1st quarter until Bron is sitting on the bench with 3 fouls.

    Let’s put it this way. Mike Brown doesn’t have the balls to risk his best offensive weapon like that. He doesn’t have the balls.

  • LakeShow84


    Sounds like everyone getting the

    “Lebron still dont have a supporting cast” excuses ready..

    SO WACK..

    But ill humor that and say Cleveland wont see us in the East so IF they do lose what difference does it make if its in the East?? they the most stacked team in the East PERIOD.. Orlando a distant 2nd but the Cavs bench squad is SOLID, they DO have the best bench in the NBA.. we just have the best starting 5..

    But in the playoffs that dont matter.. its about will and perserverance.. it aint like Gasol, Bynum and Odom comin out dropping 20&10 every night.. Bynum scored ZERO, 0, O, points last game.. Odom barely even shows MOST games and Gasol has a habit of disappearing when the physical play pops up..

    LMAO at all this CLE/LA comparisons.. go write a letter to the NBA whinin about that shit..

  • Bizz

    LeBron guards Rondo, meaning what exactly, that John Legend with tattoos (Mo Williams) is responsible to chase Ray around screens all game and Anthony Peter Parker is supposed to stop Truth? And that’s supposed to succeed? Even if James does attempt a shutdown, game 2, Rondo dropped 19 dimes in a blowout, and LeBron’s gonna have to chase Rondo around ALLLLLL GAME, risk the potential fouls, and also risk burning out on the offensive end. I smell a plan ready to backfire bigtime here.

  • http://uoregon.edu sans

    How about actually guarding him? He has to much space to make tough passes–wide open he might Nash-it up like he has been, but wide open–yeah he can’t shot but he can see the floor better when open–he’ll keep killing us.

  • http://www.realcavsfans.com Powerslave

    Put Z on Rondo.

  • QQ

    Let Bron guard Rondo. Bron has to do everything now for his legacy. It’s put and shut up time now. It’s a fucking 2-2 series, and the Celts are supposedly the weakest contender right? I just can’t wait for the results of this series, seeing that one wrong move from the Cavs, all you fucking Lebron fanboys would have to permanently shut up.

    Celts in 7.

  • boomboom

    now will see how a “1st team all-defense” guy work…
    if bron fails to even slow down rondo it will only confirm what everyone already knows. that bron cant really defend someone one on one to save his life and more importantly in this situation, his season.
    cue the “he doesnt have help” talk.

  • http://bt.davka.info/ SparkyJay23

    What sans said

    Its all very well talking shit about LeBron guarding Torro Rosso but the teams scheme is fucked. We all know his Jumpshot is suspect but that doesn’t mean give him 8 ft just so he can see the floor and blow past you at will.

    1st team all defense indeed

  • sh!tfaced

    Yeah, Z also wants to guard Rondo. He’d say and do just about anything to get some tick.

  • Alfred

    Yay. Bye Lebron. Come play up here in Whalley.