Looking strictly at per minute stats for playoffs and regular season when talking about Rondo's clutchness in the playoffs is unfair. In the playoffs you play against only the best teams, play against that team's shortened rotation and best players, play at a completely different intensity level, and on a much larger stage. Some of Rondo's biggest games in terms of stats and his impact on the results of the game have come during the playoffs.
This has been an interesting debate. I'm still not sure why none of the posters who claim that Irving is a superior player to Rondo, or think that Rondo can't be the best player on a contending team, refuse to take into consideration the way that Rondo has led this team deep into the playoffs over the course of the past four seasons.
Rondo has already been the best player on a team that made it to game seven of the NBA Finals and game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals.
He's shown over the course of the last four seasons that he steps up his game in the playoffs. Some seem to take this as a negative against Rondo. To me, this is a distinct positive. I also don't think it's purely a cause of him "bringing it" more in the playoffs, but also a product of what a cerebral basketball player he is. When he plays the same team four or more consecutive games, he learns tendencies, he adjusts, he gets better. He's the type of player who is always thinking ahead to the next play or the next game. The playoffs--where you face the same teams multiple times in a seven game series--are geared to benefit a thinking player like Rondo.
To date, I have no idea how Irving will perform in the NBA playoffs. He hasn't been there. Rondo has been there a lot, and excelled at the highest level. That's worth a lot to me. I'm surprised that it's not worth more to others.
A case can be made that Rondo wasn't our best overall player on either of those teams in the playoffs.
And for all of the talk that Rondo is so much better in the playoffs, the numbers don't really bear it out at all. He just plays more minutes in the playoffs.
Let's look at 2009-10 for an example, the year you called him the best player on our Finals team.
His regular season stats, per 36 minutes - 13.5 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 9.6 APG, 51% shooting, .156 Win Shares (per 48 minutes), 54% true shooting, 52% eFG%.
His postseason stats, per 36 minutes - 14.0 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 8.2 APG, 46% shooting, .131 Win Shares (per 48 minutes), 50% true shooting, 48% eFG%.
So his "stepping up in the playoffs" in 2009-2010 actually saw him arguably play worse. He scored half a point more and got half a rebound more per 36 minutes, while losing 1.4 assists and scoring less efficiently.
There are seasons where his playoff numbers are slightly better, there are seasons where his playoff numbers are slightly worse. Overall, it's pretty much a draw. Rondo's "clutch" attribute is a myth. He's an All-Star caliber player in the regular season and an All-Star caliber player of equal talent that plays more minutes in the postseason. Kyrie's 20 years old. I'm pretty certain he can handle more minutes if he is given some extra nights off and no back-to-backs (a playoff schedule).
To the bolded statement, I'd say, no, he hasn't.
I find Rondo to be very clutch in the playoffs because even though he coasts at points during the regular season and slacks on defense during the regular season, in the playoffs, Rondo doesn't do this and he can effect a game in an elite manner in so many ways both offensively and defensively.
Rondo's game has some real holes in it, including his decision making, effort and immaturity, areas you would have hoped wouldn't be a problem at this point in his career. But saying he doesn't come up clutch in the playoffs doesn't pass the eye or smell test to me.
He's the same guy as he is in the regular season. You just remember the games more. He has some impressive stat lines in some regular season games too.
I think he's pretty clearly a different offensive player in the playoffs. His style of play is much, much more aggressive than it is in the regular season. For example, over the last 4 seasons his scoring, shot attempts, and free throw attempts have usually increased in the playoffs:
(Per 36 minutes)
'09 season: 13PTS - 11FGA - 3.7FTA
playoffs: 14.7PTS - 14FGA - 4.2FTA
'10 season: 13.5PTS - 9.5FGA - 3.4FTA
playoffs: 14PTS - 12FGA - 4.2FTA
'11 season: 10.3PTS - 10.5FGA - 1.9FTA
playoffs: 13.1PTS - 11.2FGA - 4FTA
'12 season: 11.6PTS - 11.5FGA - 3.3FTA
playoffs: 14.6PTS - 13.4FGA - 2.7FTA
You're right that his stats generally stay about the same, give or take a few series (MIA'12, NYK'11, CLE'10, and CHI'09 are stand outs), but is that really a representation of him not stepping up?
I mean, look at our MVP's of the championship season in '08:
Pierce (per 36min):
Regular: 19.7 - 4.5 - 5.1 .529eFG%
Playoffs: 18.6 - 4.3 - 4.5 .499eFG%
KG (per 36min):
Regular: 20.7 - 3.8 - 10.1 .539eFG%
Playoffs: 19.3 - 3.2 - 10 .498eFG%
Both played "worse" by their regular season standards, but can anyone actually argue that they weren't clutch or the reason we won that year?