Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
For months now, we've wondered where all that ball movement went. Rondo was in a funk, and the theories were endless — did his foot hurt? His finger? Were his feelings bruised over the departure of running mate Kendrick Perkins? Had teams figured out how to neutralize him by daring him to shoot? Had excessive, hard-fought minutes with numerous hard landings caught up with him? Was it none of the above or, closer to the truth, all of the above?
It didn't matter. The point guard needed to put it all behind him and, as his coach kept imploring him to do, "keep it simple."
Rondo checked out with 15 points, 11 boards and 20 assists. Twenty assists. It's been a while since the numbers were that gaudy.
Somewhere during the final week before the "second season" began, the point guard rediscovered his verve. He began challenging defenses by driving to the hoop again. He reasserted himself on the defensive end. He took back responsibility for making this team work.
The sequece in the video sums up Rajon Rondo perfectly. He soars for an offensve rebounds and makes the deft touch pass to Jermaine before hitting the ground. He swoops in again to gather the loose ball, uses the playground-style dribble to dart through the paint and hits Ray in the corner with a cross-court pass.
Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowski reminds us that when Rondo plays like this, the Celtics are virtually unstoppable.
The Celtics had a better team on the floor, and soon they’ll be measuring themselves with Miami. The Heat have everything they need to combat Boston’s Big Three. They have Dwyane Wade and LeBron James to take on Pierce and Allen. They have Chris Bosh for Kevin Garnett. What they’ve never had – nor do the Los Angeles Lakers – is an antidote for Rondo. His ability to dominate that series will ultimately dictate Boston’s fate.
As one NBA scout who has been monitoring the Celtics and Heat lately said, “I don’t buy this idea that the Heat – especially LeBron and Wade – have jelled together late in the year. To me, they’re still taking turns. LeBron goes, Wade goes. The difference is Wade is handling the ball late in games now, more so than LeBron. Their Big Three will play well, but my question is: What does [Mario] Chalmers do against Boston? They look good right now against Philadelphia, but I’m not sold that they’ve grown as much as they want people to think they have.”
Rajon Rondo comes and dares to take everything away – your crowd, your team, your spirit. Yes, the Heat had to be watching on Friday night and asking themselves: What do we do with that Rondo?
Glad to have you back, Rajon.
On Page 2, a sweep will be new to this team.
The Celtics are 8-11 in closeout games going back to the 2008 playoffs. They’ve never swept a team in the new Big Three era.
Their two chances came during last season’s playoffs when they went up three games on the Heat in the first round (dropping Game 4 on the road) and the Magic in the conference finals (losing Game 4 at home and Game 5 in Orlando).
Miami is also up, 3-0, in its series with Game 4 tomorrow in Philadelphia. If both the Celtics and Heat sweep, the earliest their second-round meeting could start would be next Sunday, giving both teams six days to rest.
A sweep is everyone's preference, but one more game won't kill the Celtics.
If the Cs are forced to play a Game 5 in Boston on Tuesday, they still will likely have 4 days rest before playing Miami.
The rest of the links:
CSNNE – Game 3 Factbox | Emphasis on rebouding pays off | Cs want no difference in Game 4 | Celtics quiet MSG fans | Herald – Celtics glass overflows | There's positive signs for Shaq's return | Paul and Ray light it up | Globe – They turned back the clock for a night | Allen sure punched up offense | A lot missing for Stoudemire | WEEI – Celtics play well | ESPN Boston – Cs called for boarding | Doc: We kept game plan simple | ProJo – Allen's shooting opens floodgates |