Asking Rajon Rondo how he feels about his turnovers is like asking a man going through a midlife crisis how he feels about the deep scratch in the side of his Corvette. The slow burn in their eyes does not do much to mask their fury over such imperfections in their works of art.
As dazzling as Rondo has been in his streak of games with double-digit assists, which reached 21 when he dished out 15 helpers on Saturday, the early portions of his last few games have been marred by miscues.
Rondo committed four turnovers in the first quarter on Saturday in the most recent example of Rondo being uncharacteristically careless with the ball early in games. In the last seven contests, Rondo is averaging 12.5 turnovers per 36 minutes in the first and second quarters, or three times the rate at which he has turned over the ball this season.
The cause of the turnovers merely seems to be his ability to focus. Rondo himself has said many times that he puts it on himself, as the primary ballhandler, to protect the ball, and that sometimes, his and the team's concentration lapses. In a win over Philadelphia on April 8, Rondo's teammates said the point guard was incensed at his five turnovers in the first half, so much that the fumbles still bothered him after he did not commit a turnover the rest of the game.
That game was a microcosm of Rondo's play of late. His turnovers decrease with each quarter, and in the fourth quarter of the past seven games he has averaged 0.8 turnovers per 36 minutes.
Rondo's halftime mood on Saturday was unclear, but after handing over the ball to New Jersey four times in the first quarter, Rondo did not commit another turnover in the final three quarters. That was 20 minutes, 21 seconds without a turnover by the Celtics floor general.
Coach Doc Rivers did not place to onus for the turnovers entirely on Rondo.
"We were just playing at random too much," Rivers said Saturday. "Whenever you get caught into that game, you turn the ball over. I thought from the middle of the first quarter on, we played through system, and Rondo knows our system as well as anybody."
Rondo is dropping dimes at a near-historic pace, but it is taking him some time to warm up. Once he does, though, he is close to impossible to turn over.
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