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Celtic’s point guard Rajon Rondo recorded 29 points, 18 rebounds, and 13 assists in the Game 4 victory over Cleveland on Sunday, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is the second-best player in this series behind LeBron James. However, it was King James who took a backseat on Sunday, something he hasn’t grown accustomed to doing over his brief yet illustrious career.
“I think it starts with Rondo. He’s kind of the engine that really gets them going,” James said. “He does everything for them. His performance was unbelievable.
What allowed Rondo, a 6 ft. 1′ point guard to accumulate 18 rebounds? Was it his freakish 6-10 wingspan? His massive hands? Maybe it was just his instinctive ability to be in the right place at the right time; or maybe it was some combination of the three along with his other-worldly quickness and leaping ability. Whatever it was, it allowed Celtics fans to quickly forget LeBron’s Oscar Robertson-esque performance (38 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists) in Game 3.; a performance that resulted in the Celtic’s worst home playoff loss in franchise history. It was Rondo making history in Game 4, becoming the third player in playoff history to have at least 29 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists.
The Celtics defense frustrated LeBron, and provided Rondo with frequent opportunities to run the fast break offense. Rondo is most dangerous in the open court, when he is driving to the basket. If the Celtics can continue to play well on the defensive end, and provide Rondo with more opportunities to operate in transition, they have a very good chance of upsetting Cleveland in this Series.
“I just wanted to continue to attack,” Rondo said. “That’s how we got the lead at first.”
Rondo has been nothing short of sensational since signing a five-year $55 million contract extension back in early November 2009. He broke Bob Cousy’s franchise record for most steals in the season while leading the league with 2.3 steals per game.
It appears Celtic’s General Manager Danny Ainge knew what he was doing when he broke the bank for Rondo back in November.
“We are extremely pleased to be able to extend Rajon’s contract,” said Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. “We believe that he is one of the elite point guards in the NBA and has a tremendous future ahead of him.”
Just last week he was named to the NBA’s All-Defensive Team joining Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Gerald Wallace, and Dwight Howard. On Sunday the 24 year old added to his rapidly growing legacy, joining Jason Kidd, Oscar Robertson, and Magic Johnson on the list of players who have the most triple-doubles in their first 50 playoff games.
Rondo has put the C’s on his back in their two victories over Cleveland in this series. In the two Game 2 and Game 4 victories combined Rondo accounted for 42 points, 32 assists, 22 rebounds, and 4 steals. He scored 27 points in a losing effort in Game 1, and he’s currently averaging 21.8 points, 13 assists, and 8.3 rebounds this postseason. The guy is a triple-double waiting to happen.
Now, on the brink of Game 5, the discussion surrounding this series is no longer focused on how the Celtics will try to stop LeBron James, but how the Cavaliers plan on slowing down Rajon Rondo. On Monday Cavs head coach Mike Brown said he plans to continue to use an assortment of players to try slow Rondo, and hinted that one of those players might be LeBron James himself.
LeBron is more than capable of slowing down Rondo, and both teams know this, but they also know that such a scenario might not be bad thing for Boston. If LeBron covers Rondo, it will force the Cavs to use a smaller player on the struggling Paul Pierce, who is due to have a breakout performance.
“You put LeBron on Rondo when he’s doing a nice job of making Paul work and you have to put a smaller guy on Paul, and we all know what Paul is capable of doing,” Mike Brown said.
We all certainly now know what Rondo is capable of doing, and unfortunately for Cleveland, when he’s playing confident and aggressive like he was on Sunday, he’s nearly impossible to stop. With Rondo dominating the series from the point guard position, Cleveland now has serious dilemma on its hands. Who do they focus on stopping, Rondo or the Big Three? They may have to settle for picking their poison in Game 5.
The Series continues in Cleveland with Game 5 on Tuesday night, and Rondo is ready.
“It really doesn’t matter about the matchup,” said Rondo. “Obviously, it’s the playoffs and the big thing is matchups, but, to me, I don’t really care who’s guarding me. I gotta run the offense and in our system. If we get easy looks in transition, it doesn’t matter who’s guarding me.”
You can watch the game on TNT starting at 8:00 PM. If the Rondo and the Celtics can somehow manage to steal one in Cleveland, they’ll have the opportunity to wrap the Series up at home on Thursday night.
Tags: Anderson Varejao, Antawn Jamison, Bob Cousy, Boston Celtics, Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Danny Ainge, Dwight Howard, Gerald Wallace, Glen Davis, Jason Kidd, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Magic Johnson, NBA Playoffs, Rajon Rondo, Rasheed Wallace, Ray Allen, Shaquille O'Neal, Tony Allen