Perhaps the biggest reason the Mavericks traded for Rajon Rondo two weeks ago was for his perimeter defense, even though he hadn't quite looked the same since his ACL injury in 2013. When asked about it at Mavericks shootaround on Friday, Rondo said he hadn't "played defense in a couple of years."
Rondo didn't elaborate on whether it was because he was still recovering from the injury or wasn't willing to give max effort for a team in the lottery, but he's looked much better on both ends in the six games he's played so far with Dallas. Specifically, Westbrook bothered Russell Westbrook into a 6-23 shooting night last Sunday before following it up with another solid night on Tuesday guarding John Wall, who was limited to 11 points and just seven shots.
Dallas has been the best or second-best offense in the league all season, but desperately needed help with perimeter defense and rebounding. Rondo, who is also the best rebounding guard in the league, replaced Jameer Nelson in the Mavericks' starting lineup and gives some much needed support for defensive anchor Tyson Chandler. The Mavericks were the no. 20 defense before the trade but are no. 8 in the six games since, according to NBA.com's stats.
Rondo's full quote is here:
Full Rondo defense quote with question in bold. pic.twitter.com/hsTkqgx19u— Jay King (@ByJayKing) January 2, 2015
Friday's game against Boston marks Rondo's return to the city where he had spent his previous eight NBA seasons, while the Mavericks reunite with Brandan Wright and Jae Crowder, who were the second- and third-longest tenured Mavericks after Dirk Nowitzki prior to the trade.