Tranquil Rondo Leads Celtics Again
BOSTON – Every now and then you can just feel a massive performance coming from an NBA player simply because of their body language. Sunday night was one of those nights when it came to Rajon Rondo.
Rondo made his way onto the parquet floor at TD Garden about 90 minutes before Game 4 between the Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks was set to tip off. He was dripping with confidence and seemed to be floating in serenity as he dribbled around the floor and nailed jumper after jumper.
The aura that surrounded Rondo at that time was an indication of what was to come.
Rondo followed up his epic Game 3 triple-double with yet another dominant performance Sunday night in Game 4. He dictated the pace of the game from the opening minute and finished with game highs of 16 assists and three steals to go along with 20 points.
“That’s my mindset every game,” Rondo said of his early aggression. “Just tonight, we were in a good rhythm, a good flow.”
Rondo’s flow was so strong that Fabio’s locks would cringe in jealousy. Really, who follows up a triple-double with a performance like this one? One person who expected nothing less was Boston’s captain.
“That’s Rondo being Rondo,” Paul Pierce said after the win. “He’s one of the best point guards in the NBA. He has the confidence and controls the game.”
Rondo has been running the show with precision over the past two contests. While many will compare the two performances, Sunday’s was far different from that of Game 3, when the point guard committed a game-high six turnovers.
Rondo was cool, calm and collected in Game 4; he turned the ball over just once in his 35 minutes of action. In addition to his precision-like passing skills, Rondo’s jump shot was as silky smooth as it ever has been.
“The jump shot – he’s starting to trust his jump shot a little more,” said Keyon Dooling, who has been knocking down some jumpers of his own lately. “That’s what’s different about his game; he’s really knocking down the jump shot.”
And that’s not good news for the Hawks.
Rondo has been a terror for opponents for years thanks to his incredible vision and floor game. Opponents have attempted to slow him down by sagging off of him on the perimeter and daring the point guard to fire up perimeter jumpers. Much like Josh Smith of the Hawks, when Rondo’s jumper is falling like it was tonight, he’s literally unguardable.
“Tonight you saw him doing it offensively with his shooting,” Paul Pierce said. “We already know he’s the best passer in the game and offensively he just picked up the slack.”
The final score of Game 4 would indicate that there wasn’t much slack for Rondo to pick up, but Doc Rivers would beg to differ. Rivers felt as if he was staring at a M.A.S.H. unit when he looked to his right and peaked down at his bench. Thankfully, it was Rondo who avoided stepping into that unit. That’s why Rivers believes Rondo’s performance in Game 4 was more impressive than the triple-double in Game 3.
“Yeah, because it was needed more,” Rivers remarked. “I mean, we had a lot of stuff going on. You may not have noticed, but we had a lot of things going on on our bench today with bodies. You know, MP’s (Mickael Pietrus) hamstring, we had to take him out. Avery’s (Bradley) shoulder, Paul’s knee, Ray’s (Allen) foot.”
There were plenty of distractions that could have bumped Rondo off the tracks tonight. But like the great players always do, No. 9 kept the blinders on and just continued to do his thing.
Which brings us back to the premise of this entire piece. Rondo was peaceful and confident when he stepped onto the parquet floor long before this pivotal contest even began. He had not a worry in the world, and that tranquility translated into his play during Game 4.
Did he know that he was in such a state when he walked into the building Sunday afternoon?
“Honestly, no,” Rondo said.
He may not have known, but anyone who was watching him could see it from a mile away.