Ford Keys to the Game

Cavaliers 87, Celtics 97

Game Highlights

Photo of the Game

Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo fires the ball off of Anderson Varejao (not pictured) as he flies out of bounds. The hustle play wound up giving Boston possession of the ball.
Elsa/NBAE/Getty

Key Moment

Tonight's 97-87 Game 4 win by the Boston Celtics was powered by a 10-0 run to start the fourth quarter, but one play in the final moments of the third period is what lit the fire for the C's.

After leading by as many as 11 points early in the second half, Boston allowed Cleveland to get back into the game with a quick spurt in the middle of the third period. A combination of Cavaliers combined to score 13 points in just under five minutes while the Celtics struggled at the other end. That run cut Boston's lead to only two with 4:41 remaining in the third, helping Cleveland to gain quite a bit of momentum.

But the Celtics responded, and in a big way. The C's actually fell behind by one point, 70-69, but after a Rasheed Wallace free throw tied things up, Rajon Rondo and Tony Allen connected for one of the most exciting plays of the season.

LeBron James' sixth turnover of the game was a big one, because it led to the biggest play of the game for Boston. Glen Davis played the role of thief on that turnover and quickly tossed the ball to his point guard, Rondo, to start the fast break.

We'll let Rondo himself describe to you how the entire play unraveled:

"I knew exactly on that play he was coming, I saw it out of the corner of my eye when I started to break, Baby made a great pass. I told the guys in the huddle to continue to run with me because they were trying to block my shot in the first half and I wasn't converting and I would get the ball to the rim and they were able to get the offensive rebound. On that particular play I knew LeBron was coming, I had to sell it as if I was going to lay it up and he jumped and I made the pass and Tony finished the play."

Allen took the behind-the-back, no-look pass from Rondo and slammed home a thunderous dunk that sent the Garden crowd into a frenzy. Antawn Jamison made a couple of free throws for the Cavs to tie it up, but after that dunk, they had lost every drop of momentum that was in their grasp.

Rondo said that Allen, "finished the play," when in reality he actually finished the Cavs.

Key Box Score Line

Is there any question of who should take down this spot? Absolutely not -- it's Rajon Rondo.

Rondo put together one of the all-time greatest performances in NBA playoff history this afternoon, racking up 29 points, 18 rebounds (four of which were offensive), 13 assists and two steals while turning the ball over only four times. That type of night has happened only two times prior to tonight. The other names on the short list that Rondo has now joined are Oscar Robertson (32 points, 19 rebounds, 13 assists on March 26. 1963) and Wilt Chamberlain (29 points, 36 rebounds, 13 assists on April 11, 1967).

There is no way to justify the dominance Rondo displayed tonight. He dominated the game on every level and the Cavaliers were powerless against him.

As he approached the free-throw line in the fourth quarter, he heard 18,000 Celtics fans chanting "M-V-P" at the top of their lungs. Ironically, the league's actual MVP was standing just feet away taking it in, and even he knew that Rondo was the king tonight.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Rajon Rondo finished the game with 29 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists.
  • The Celtics shot only 7.1 percent (1-of-14) from 3-point range.
  • Rondo and Ray Allen each took 21 field goal attempts.
  • All five Cavaliers starters scored in double-figures, led by LeBron James' 22.
  • James finished with 22 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
  • Cleveland committed 17 turnovers, and James accounted for seven of them.
  • Paul Pierce scored only nine points on 3-of-8 shooting.
  • The Celtics outrebounded the Cavs 47-33 while limiting Cleveland to only three offensive rebounds.
  • Kevin Garnett scored 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting to go along with six rebounds.
  • Garnett's six rebounds tied with Kendrick Perkins' six boards for the sexond-highest total on the team, behind Rondo's 18.
  • Boston committed 31 fouls, with four starters finishing with at least five personals (Rondo was the exception, as he was whistled for two fouls). Ray Allen fouled out of the game
  • Perkins blocked four Cleveland shots.
  • James and Shaquille O'Neal each took 11 free throws for Cleveland.
  • Delonte West shot 0-for-7 off the bench for Cleveland.
  • The Celtics committed only 12 turnovers.
  • Tony Allen scored 15 points off the bench for Boston on 6-of-7 shooting from the floor.
  • The teams combined to score 90 points in the paint (50 for Boston, 40 for Cleveland).
  • Combining second chance points and fast break points, Boston outscored Cleveland 36-7.

Quote of the Night

Doc Rivers' response to being asked how he would characterize LeBron James' first-quarter performance: "Rondo -- this is quite a state-line that I haven't seen in a long time. I told you that he was getting better. You see it in practice, you see what he puts in to it. I am always in his ear telling him loose stuff, but the kid wants it, he wants it bad. He makes things easy to be honest. He's driving, putting pressure on the defense. He is very smart. He knows when to stop and go. He knows when to pick up speed. He knows when to slow it down, call sets. This game is just a stitch in his maturity. It's a great win for us, but overall, this is a hell of a stat-line."