BOSTON — Rajon Rondo's goal Friday was not to match his performance from Game 2, nor to even try. His 44-point, 10-assist, eight-rebound show was a game for the ages, but the thing about games for the ages is that they usually do not come around every other day.
Rondo's goal instead was much more straightforward, and it was one he successfully achieved.
"My goal was the win, by any means necessary," Rondo said. "We needed to get the win. I just wanted to sacrifice and do the things for my teammates to get the lead and just run the show. My job is to be the leader out there on the floor, the extension of Doc [Rivers]."
His stat line in the Celtics' 101-91 victory over the Miami Heat in the Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals was not as gaudy as it was in the previous game, but Rondo was coolly effective nonetheless. He scored 21 points on 9-of-16 shooting and handed out 10 assists while committing only two turnovers. It was the seventh time this postseason that Rondo had three assists or fewer, and the 12th time in 15 playoff games (he was suspended for Game 2 for the Atlanta series) that he reached double digits in assists.
Rondo was in such a groove, Celtics coach Doc Rivers joked that he stayed away from Rondo like a baseball manager afraid to jinx a pitcher's no-hitter. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra repeated his mantra that Rondo's unpredictability makes him virtually impossible to gameplan for.
"He broke us off the dribble, he made a lot of plays, and like they usually come, they were in random situations," Spoelstra said. "Not play calls, not something you can necessarily scheme for. It's the unpredictability of him penetrating and finding guys. He did a very good job of that."
After nine career playoff triple-doubles, that aforementioned 44-point eruption, a one-armed gut-check in last year's playoffs and countless other memorable performances, this is the point Rondo has reached in his career. A 21-point, 10-assist night that once would have qualified as a banner game barely registers as anything out of the ordinary.