Doc Rivers has had a front-row seat for the finest Celtics performances of the past eight years. Because he is usually preoccupied with several different things in the course of a game, though, Rivers often misses the finer points of those performances until he watches them later on film.
That was not the case with Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Wednesday, when Rajon Rondo exploded for 44 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds and three measly turnovers in a game the statistics do not do justice.
“Lots of games with Rondo and Paul [Pierce] and really all of our guys, after the game you watch it and you say, ‘Wow, I knew it was good, but I didn’t know he was that good,'” Rivers said Thursday in a conference call. “That one was pretty much in front of me all game. I thought Rondo had one of his best games where he was not predetermining what he wanted to do, but was taking what they gave him.”
Rondo’s impressive display went beyond his eight midrange jump shots and two 3-pointers. When the Heat defenders came up to pressure him after he had knocked down a few jumpers, Rondo swerved past them to get to the cup at will. Not only did he get 10 shots at the rim, according to HoopData, he also compiled five assists off “at-the-rim dimes,” according to Yahoo! Sports’ Dan Devine. The most mind-boggling statistic is the three turnovers, when one considers that Rondo played all 53 minutes and handled the ball at some point in nearly every Boston possession.
In other words, Rondo struck the perfect balance between being aggressive and not forcing things, which typically leads to a Celtics victory.
“He let his game come to him and he stayed aggressive in attack mode,” Rivers said. “I thought that was important for him.”
The Celtics may need Rondo to follow up his Game 2 explosion with a similarly memorable Game 3. His coach will be watching intently.