Rajon Rondo Carrying Celtics in Postseason Once Again

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April 19, 2010

Rajon Rondo Carrying Celtics in Postseason Once Again BOSTON — If at any point last April you blinked, you might have missed Rajon Rondo transforming into Oscar Robertson.

Lest anyone forget Rondo's spectacular performance, here are a few numbers from his first seven games of the playoffs last spring: In seven games against the Bulls, Rondo averaged 19.4 points, 11.6 assists, 9.3 rebounds, 2.7 steals and 0.4 blocks.

Yes, that is almost a triple-double average.

Rondo was going through a lot last spring. There were questions being raised around Boston about his maturity level, his wisdom, his experience and his commitment to the Celtics moving forward. All the pressure piled up, and all the while, he had to play a bigger role on a C's playoff team that was without Kevin Garnett.

Not easy. But Rondo was up to the task.

You could argue that this year, when the C's took the floor for their postseason opener on Saturday night, Rondo was facing even more adversity.

The young point guard came down with the flu earlier this week, and even with two days to rest and recover, he wasn't looking good. Rondo woke up on Saturday morning unable to keep his breakfast down. He then took the floor on Saturday night unable to be stopped.

Ten points, 10 assists, seven boards. Nearly another triple-double. Healthy or not, there's just something about the playoffs that makes this kid go.

"He was great," Doc Rivers said. "I'm worried about [Monday]. But he told me he felt great. He said he felt great, you know, after we did the little walk-through stuff [Saturday]. He thought that really helped him because he broke a sweat, and he thought that was big for him. And he got some fluids that stayed in the afternoon, which was very important."

Rondo's only 24 years old, but he already gets it: In the playoffs, it doesn't matter how you're feeling or whether you "think" you can go. When your team needs you, you leave it all on the floor.

Rondo left it all out there, and you couldn't tear him off the floor. In fact, at 43 out of 48 minutes, he played more than anyone in Game 1. His health was never a concern.

"I'm never that concerned with Rondo, to be honest," Rivers said. "He felt good. I was more concerned with if I took him out, in the second half."

He played the entire second half, and he led the Celtics back from a 14-point deficit to overtake the Heat in the fourth quarter and earn a hard-fought win. Leaving the point guard on the floor was the key to maintaining the Celtics' rhythm down the stretch.

"I was literally scared to take him out," Rivers said. "I thought if I did, I don't know what we would've got back out of him."

That's the right idea going forward.

If the Celtics want to go far this spring, they've got to leave Rajon Rondo on the floor. The Celtics will go as far as he can carry them.

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