Post-game Reactions

Boston — Years from now, after we’ve long forgotten just how painful this basketball series was for its viewers, the many open shots, nasty rebounds, and hellacious screens that made up Game 7 will be boiled down to one play; a single sequence that will stand strong through time as the entire series’ most significant. If you watched the game, you probably know what I’m talking about.

Late in the fourth quarter, after Rajon Rondo retrieved his ninth rebound of the game following an errant Thaddeus Young jumper, the Celtics held a seven point lead. He immediately tried to initiate a pick and roll on the left wing with Kevin Garnett, but it was thwarted. They tried it again, but instead of flinging it back to Garnett, Rondo threw a dart to Ray Allen in the corner. With less than seven seconds remaining on the shot clock, this play had the feel of several before it: left for dead and discombobulated. Allen tried to drive baseline but after realizing two Sixers weren’t obliging any paths to the basket, he threw it back to an open Brandon Bass, standing right around the three-point line. Now the shot clock was at three, and even though he was wide open, Bass knew this wasn’t his shot to take. In one motion, he turned and fired the ball back to Rondo.

The shot wasn’t rushed, it was fluid. A quick catch, turn, and release not often seen from Boston’s point guard throughout his career. Of course, it went in. And the rest, as they say, is history.

“It’s what we expected,” Keyon Dooling told CelticsHub after the game. ‘Rondo made all the plays down the stretch, if it wasn’t the assist pass, it was the score, it was the hockey assist, it was calling the right sets, it was rebounding the basketball, getting steals, getting blocks. He did everything tonight. He was spectacular.”

As Dooling prefaced nicely, to describe just one shot wouldn’t do Rondo’s performance justice. When Paul Pierce picked up his sixth foul with 4:16 left in the game, a few boos directed at the officials rang out through the crowd, but most fans were silent. People knew the call’s significance, and shock turned to dread at the bat of an eyelash.

Boston led by three at the time, but Pierce was the only Celtic who appeared to possess natural rhythm within the game’s choppy flow. Then, in a sequence that could best be described as “typical” in the sense that it was “out of thin air”, Rondo saved the day, scoring 11 astonishing points in the game’s final couple of minutes, finishing with yet another triple double, and leading this gritty, resilient Celtics team to yet another round of postseason action.

Yet still, because it’s Rondo, questions remain. Was this fourth quarter performance a defining one? Because of its magnitude and context, was it a benchmark moment in Rondo’s career? Was it the game we’ll all point to whenever doubters say he’s incapable of “doing things on his own?” Or was this just Rondo acting as Rondo tends to act, where in the not so distant future, he misses all those shots and remains passive at the end of a close game.

Rondo is undoubtedly Boston’s most important player. Even when Garnett catches fire or they lean on Pierce in isolation, when you look at the whole body of 48 minutes, the entire battle of a series, and the extensive length of a season, it’s Rondo who acts as the traffic light while every other Celtic is just a car sitting at an intersection.

“[Rondo] has been aggressive, in my opinion throughout this playoffs, this entire run,” Doc Rivers said after the game. “And the games that he hasn’t been has been the games that we’ve struggled in.”

As he sat on the podium after the game, his personal future surviving as a serious winner despite his team’s inability to advance, Sixers point guard Jrue Holiday was asked what was going through his head after his defense forced Rondo into a low percentage shot that will be remembered by Celtics fans for years to come. He shrugged, stared back at the room full of reporters, and said “You’re thinking a miss.”

It’s the obvious answer, right? The great weakness holding back this amazing talent is his shot, right? When reporters asked Rondo to put himself in the shoes of a Sixer as his own fateful shot left his hand, he responded with an answer so curious, so natural to nobody but himself, that as the words hung in the hushed air, people in the room couldn’t decide whether or not he was actually serious. “Here we go again,” he said, not a smile on his face. He was referring to his hot outside shooting at the end of Game 1, which led Boston to that win as well.

Whether you think of him as confident, delusional, or a brilliant genius, that statement sums up Rondo in a nutshell. That’s why he’s so great. Maybe figuring him out isn’t worth our time. So what if he never puts together the game to game consistency we ache for in our franchise players. When it’s all said and done, magnificent nights like this one should force another question into the discussion’s forefront: Who cares who Rondo is?

Twitter: @ShakyAnkles

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Michael Pina

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  • george

    A truly AMAZING Tireless young fellow. Absolutely AMAZING!!! There aren't enough words to describe RONDO.

  • jr9901

    When Rondo gets it done, you're right, I don't care who he is or why he's doing what he does. The problem, of course, arises when he DOESN'T get it done, like game 6.

    But I think there's hope that he will step up big-time vs. Miami. It's a much bigger challenge, and one thing about Rondo is that he has always stepped up when really needed in the playoffs.

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  • cos

    "it’s Rondo who acts as the traffic light while every other Celtic is just a car sitting at an intersection."

    great analogy.

  • bugsbunny

    dwyane wade is undoubtedly plotting his assassination of rondo at this moment, watching youtube clips of the laimbeer era pistons and amping himself up. which of the C's bench guys is gonna knock him on his ass before he gets a chance?

    • Robert

      I'm looking to the Steamer to pile-drive Wade into the 3rd row on his first drive to the hoop.

      • jr9901

        I know! Sean Williams. (I had to look up his first name again, he's so forgotten.) He's big, and won't be missed.

      • nanamarilyn

        YEAH …GET him Goldy blocks…..I know that sounds harsh…but who cares…Wade NEEDS a come-uppins…. just a LITTLE roughin up…no fatal injuries…..just enough to keep him in his place….[the locker room]….just sayin

  • skeeds

    Doc gave some hints yesterday that showed how Rondo's mind works. And why he's like this.

    When Rondo realizes he's not playing well, or something's off with the team, his natural pessimism takes over. He knows why we're losing, he knows it's his fault, and that he's not good enough. And he blames himself for everything. Last night, he said it was his fault Pierce left the game, because he turned the ball over.

    A smart guy, can't be an optimist. That's what Rondo's problem is. Really smart players, like Kobe, KG, Lebron, they find a way to overcome this, be it pure ego, maddening energy, OR, they fail, like Lebron did last year, just because they understand what's going wrong better than anyone else on the court.

    But when something makes him put his feelings aside, he becomes the best PG in the league. When the moments count, his determination overcomes his over-worrying brains. THAT's why the big games on national television. THAT's why the huge performances against elite PG's. That's why he's put together the best streak of performances by a point guard in the playoffs since Allen Iverson.

  • janos

    hi micheals, is Janos
    Every body from fan to player, web manger – beyond , jump on Rondos back right now.

    There is room – all.

    Bring supply, ride 2012 just get start…

    • Batman

      All the guys who wanted Rondo traded. Where they at?
      I'm sticking with my guy

  • Miggy

    Not even Batman or the Riddler can solve this riddle known as Rajon Rondo

    • Batman

      Hmmm I'll get right on it!

  • Anthony

    WTH??!! So Stephen A. Smith is predicting the Heats win in 4 or 5 max? Did he forget that even an injured Celts team is much better defensively than the Pacers? That playoff Rondo is much better than regular season Rondo? Or that the Celts beat a full Heats squad 3 times in the regular season (and competed in the game that they loss without their captain)?

    Celts always play better as the underdogs anyways so they will have to prove everyone, especially Stephen A. wrong again. They make Stephen A. look even stupider than SNL did (very funny clip..lol).

    Believe #18

    • Nate

      Well i think his point was that Miami now has been awaken by the Pacers and are clicking at a very high level. Also that the Celtics without Bradley, 50% ray allen, partically torn meniscus Pierce, jump shooting KG are an underdog. I dont think it will go 4-5, but the Celtics need Rondo to play 'out of this world' good to win this series.

  • Morpheus

    Janos, i am so on Rondo’s back with you.

    Beat the Heat, Beat the Heat, Beat the Heat

    Come on all Cs fans this season has been a blessing, we’re not done with #18. Even with our fallen comrades out we have made it this far. This team right here has the heart of a lion.


  • Rondo is Rondo. That's all we'll *ever* need to know. I may cringe when he's at the line sometimes, but I'll admit I'm seeing him get better there and at range, even though the numbers don't always show it yet. Who knows? In 5-10 years, we may be watching him and wondering why we used to worry about him scoring.

    • nanamarilyn

      I NEVER worry about Rondo scoring….or assisting….or rebounding….or stealing…or whatever….I KNOW he EXPLODES in a crisis….and SOOO many times has just run rampant over whatever team needs to be run over….he is without a doubt a GENIUS …and NOT just as a basketball player either…AND he knows how to be part of a TEAM….and has AMAZING fellow team members that he enables to shine to their best advantage….Rondo isn't a one man show……he realized how the team works and is just BRILLIANT at setting others up in assists, and phenomenal at every aspect of his position……he makes PLENTY of shots….more than MOST of the rest of the players on BOTH teams in ANY game….like Paul Pierce, he has been greatly underrated in the past…the big FOUR are still the most amazing players I have ever watched…and I'm OLD….[don't you DARE ]….

  • Tom

    The celts are going to take this series and i have all the reason and stats to back up this prediction right here as well how to bet it so come by read rant enjpy and subscribe! http://nbawagers.com/2012/05/the-heat-is-on/

  • nanamarilyn

    uummmm… about rowdy RONDO….that would be "A BRILLIANT GENIUS" …although I believe that's a redundant statement…..what so many people don't seem to GET is the CELTICS are NOT about what kind of game KG or Allen or Rondo or Pierce is having on any given night….its about the fact that the C's are a TEAM in the REAL sense of the word….they don't try to OUTSHINE each OTHER…they save that for the hapless teams who are trying to beat THEM…..they work TOGETHER…ummm… now that's what a TRUE TEAM DOES…and they aren't afraid to let WHOEVER from their team who's hot on the floor do his thing….and they're not afraid to reach BEYOND themselves to do what everyone is saying they CAN'T do..such as with Rondo's shots….He is just plain AMAZING…but then so is mighty KG and brilliant gutzy Paul Pierce, and the ever remarkable RAY RAY….yeah they all are dealing with somethin somethin….but the REAL mark of a VICTOR is when AGAINST ALL ODDS and against all nay sayers [even when "their last hope has faded"…that's from some Japanese monster movie btw] they do NOT cave….they do NOT snivel and fold…..they FIGHT…as a TEAM…and NOBODY is better than the C's at THAT….so I say its the C's in 5…..BET on it…..and to the HEAT I have just one thing to say…"DIE you GRAVY SUCKING PIGS !!" [I forgot who said THAT… but it fits]

  • nanamarilyn

    CELTS IN FIVE…CELTS IN FIVE….CELTS IN FIVE………..or maybe even FOUR !!!!!!!!!