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Rajon Rondo’s Dominant Performance; How Good Was It?

05/10/2010

As the Boston Celtics were able to best the Cleveland Cavaliers 97-87 on Sunday, it was Rajon Rondo who stole the show. In a game featuring several players destined for Springfield, it was the 4th year point guard who put up a Hall of Fame worthy stat line.

While knee-jerk reactions are what we do in sports analysis, the collective enshrinement of Rondo is well-founded. All he did was score 29 points, grab 18 rebounds, and divvy out 13 assists in the series-equalizing victory. “I just wanted to continue to attack,” Rondo said. “That’s how we got the lead at first.” That may be the understatement of the series. These days, as Rondo goes, so go the Celtics. Sunday’s triple-double preserves Rondo’s number two spot on Boston’s career postseason list, behind only Larry Bird. Along with last week’s newly minted All-Defensive first team honor, Rondo continues to find himself mentioned among the NBA’s first-class. ESPN’s Colin Cowherd went as far as to say Rondo is currently one of the five best players in the league today. A lofty appointment, but there is a reason fans and media alike are singing his praises.

So how rare, exactly, was Sunday’s performance? For starters, if not for a perfect game tossed by Oakland A’s lefty Dallas Braden, Rondo would have been sports’ top story across the board. Rondo was only the third player in NBA history to compile such a day, numbers-wise. The other two players were Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson. Michael Jordan once posted a 38-19-7 line in a playoff win over Philadelphia in 1991, three assists shy of the triple-double. Marginal players do not have days like this. A look to those names cements the idea. “Rondo was definitely dominating the series,” lamented LeBron James after the game. It will now be LeBron’s duty to put and end to Rondo’s dominance, as Cleveland coach Mike Brown has decided his MVP will now be entrusted with defensive coverage of the fleet-footed guard.

Since this site’s inception, most Celtics talk has revolved around “The Big Three.” Sunday’s game was certainly a passing of the torch. With team leader Paul Pierce on the bench with foul trouble for much of the game, Rondo picked up the slack in every way possible. Celtics fans will remember him doing the same when Kevin Garnett was sidelined with injury in last season’s playoffs. His versatility is unmistakable and there appears little he is incapable of. He pressured the ball, pushed the tempo, dished, scored, and boarded all day long. He was everywhere and Cleveland had no answer. Only Jason Kidd and LeBron James have more active playoff triple-doubles. When I mention a player not bound for the Hall of Fame, I’ll let you know.

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