Let's just get it out there. Four days removed from a must-have performance in a Game 7 and two days removed from a disappearing act in the opener of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics point guard submitted what may have been his finest postseason performance.
Doubts swirled around the Celtics entering Wednesday's Game 2 in Miami. The Celtics looked old, Rondo never looked engaged in the first game and several expert observers wondered if Boston would win a single game in the series. Then Rondo went off for 44 points and 10 assists, coming within two rebounds of a 10th career playoff triple-double, and just like that it was the Heat who seemed surrounded by doubts.
This is the trade-off when it comes to Rondo. This is what Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is talking about when he says he fears Rondo's unpredictability. When it appears Rondo is ready to fade away without a fuss, he bursts back into the foreground.
"He was great," Celtics coach Doc Rivers told reporters after the game. "He was absolutely phenomenal. It's tough to have him play that way and not win the game."
The Celtics will take more of this from Rondo and take their chances with the outcome, because just as often as Rondo surprises, he also disappoints. He could follow Wednesday's masterpiece with a clunker in Game 3, and that would be right in line with the Rondo model. Dazzle, depress, repeat.
This one felt different, though. Maybe it's our fault for believing that. Every time Rondo posts a jaw-dropping act in his ongoing NBA drama, someone wonders if it is a turning point or the game where he "finally figured it out." But there is no faking 44 points on only 24 shots. Making 10 of 12 foul shots and committing only three turnovers while handling the ball damn near the whole game does not happen by accident.
The Celtics will not win this series without more of the same — or something approaching the same — from Rondo. Their loss on Wednesday, even with Rondo's stellar play, should be proof of that. Rondo has always prided himself on providing what the team needs. Well, they needed every ounce he carried in Game 2, and all they need from here on out is for him to be just as good, maybe even better.
He seems entirely capable of such feats. Then again, we don't really know, do we?