After having one of the best all-around individual performances in NBA Playoff history, Rajon Rondo should officially be declared the Boston Celtics best player. His 29 point, 18 rebound, 13 assist effort, which helped Boston even their series 2-2 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, was one for the ages since only Oscar Robertson and Wilt Chamberlain have had such prolific scoring, rebounding, and passing games as Rondo. In fact, not even some of the legendary Celtics players with names like Bird, Havlicek, or Cousy, who also once donned the mythical green and white, shamrock emblazoned jerseys, could ever come close to duplicating Rondo’s legendary performance.
Even though Paul Pierce led the team in scoring(18.3 ppg), and Kendrick Perkins led in rebounds(7.6 rpg) during the regular season, Rondo has been their unquestioned leader in the playoffs by leading in points, assists, steals, and minutes. In fact during their 2nd round match-up against Cleveland, Rondo numbers are even more impressive with averages of 21.8 ppg, 8.3 rebs, 13 ast, and nearly 2 steals per game.
The Cavs have had trouble keeping Rondo from weaving through traffic, throwing lobs, snagging rebounds, and nailing twisting lay-ins and jump-shots. Word is that Cleveland is so concerned about Rondo’s ability to penetrate and score at will has coach Mike Brown considering playing the reigning 2 time MVP, Lebron James on little Rondo in Game 5. With Lebron switching off of guarding the struggling Paul Pierce, he may allow “The Truth” to once again find his rythym and regain his accustomed postseason form, adding another weapon to the opportunistic Celtics offense. Focusing on slowing down the lightning quick Rondo may also force James to exert more energy on the defensive end and might cause the league’s MVP to lose focus offensively, which is a proposition the Cavaliers don’t want, considering the inconsistent effort of his supporting cast.
After resigning with Boston this past off-season, fans were wondering how soon the team would transition away from the “Big 3” of Garnett, Pierce, and Allen, who are all arguably on the downside of their careers. After Rondo’s performance this post-season, I think we are witnessing the seemless transition right now. Even though Garnett has stepped up to the tune of 18 points and 9 rebounds, and Ray Allen is dropping 18 points per night in the playoffs, Rondo is the one player whom opponents now have to devise game-plans for.
Pierce’s offensive game has struggled while attempting to guard the game’s best player, Lebron James. By holding James to only 29 points per game, Pierce is actually doing a decent job of not letting Lebron go off on one of his patented 40+ point nights, but his offense has suffered by scoring only 11.8 ppg in the series, a mark which is nearly 7 ppg less than his regular season average. In fact, Pierce only scored 8 points on 9 shots in Game 4, which was widely considered an elimination game, with the series moving back to Cleveland for Game 5. Not what you would expect out of one of the Boston Celtics all-time great players.
As the Celtics advance on their quest for a 2nd world title in 3 seasons, their best player is no longer Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, or Ray Allen, it’s Rajon Rondo.
Check out some highlights of his historic Game 4 performance:
Allen Moll is an avid NBA and College Basketball fan who watches and studies games religiously and coaches youth basketball in his native Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania. Allen is a regular columnist for thehoopdoctors.com, Bleacherreport.com, UpperDeckblog.com, and his own site, Hoops Haven.