Last night, I managed to find my way to seats behind the basket at the Celtics' second half offensive end. I could see the looks the players gave each other. I could see Kevin Garnett with the ball on the left baseline give guys the wide-eye… trying to signal someone to cut.
No one ever did.
It was an amazing look at the game that not many people get. And one split second in another stagnant play might say more about Rajon Rondo than anything I've seen on TV.
Rondo was dribbling the ball at the top of the key, directing the play. Ray Allen made a move, but not much else was happening. Rondo was looking… glancing at guys.. trying to use quick eye contact to relay a message of "I want you to go here so you can get the ball."
Just like with the KG play… no one responded. Rondo resorted to a more obvious move of waving his intended target over. Again… no one moved.
That's when he made this face. The face that tells me Rondo can, if he wanted to, completely dominate the ball and the game. It was a little look of frustration. The one that we all make when we get frustrated. The one where we roll our eyes and give a quick exhale.
And in an instant… he was gone. He had to do this himself.
His defender… inches away and watching the whole thing himself… dusted. Rondo shook him with ease. He bounced into the lane… cradled the ball… took contact… and drew the foul.
While this is just one instant in time, it's maybe the strongest sign I've seen of what Rondo does, and can do. He spent the entire possession waiting… practically begging… one of his stars to do something. When he decided no one was doing what they needed to do, he had to take matters into his own hands.
Now when I look at this Celtics offense, I see each possession as Rondo playing mother bird returning to the nest to see wide open mouths that need to be fed. Rondo could eat at any time he wants… but he won't until the other stomachs are full. Everyone else needs to be fed first or the whole thing can fall apart.
We've known Rondo leads this team… but that look last night hammered it home.
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