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NBA Playoffs Celtics Magic Game 2: Rajon Rondo may or may not have mastered the fine art of ninjitsu

May 19, 2010, 1:02 AM EDT

rondogame2.jpgI would ask that you pay very close attention to what I am about to say.

Imagine that you had just come to this planet from another world before the playoffs began. You have come on a mission to observe human culture, specifically, sporting events, specifically, professional basketball. You have no frame of reference for the past 10 years, you don’t know about championship rings, 81 point games, 49 point triple doubles, MVPs, or a history of game winning shots (God knows there are none in these playoffs to teach you). You have an understanding of the game through what you’ve learned in research.

Who is the best player in the NBA under those circumstances?

It’s Rajon Rondo.

I’m not saying anyone other than Kobe Bryant is the best player still playing in the playoffs (Kobe is). I’m not saying that Rondo is better than LeBron James (he’s not). I’m not saying that when you need a score, the one guy you want with the ball is Rajon Rondo (I will say that person is NOT Vince Carter).

But when you consider every facet of the game, no one has played better since April 15th than Rajon Rondo. We’ve seen it all, and in Game 2, even in a numbers-modest game (25 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 turnovers in 45 minutes), he showcased every element.

He was the periodic table of pwnage.

The huge swinging ball fake to the behind the back pass. A twisting, turning, pop, lock and release floater over Dwight Howard. The mid-range game. The high floater off the glass. The drive and dish the dump off to the weak side cutter. The one arm stop-dribble cross-court whip for three.

Poking and prodding on defense, drawing charges, offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds. Efficient, engaged, locked-in. Rondo was the smoke monster.

We argued that Rondo might be the best player on the Celtics before the playoffs began. That question has been answered. It’s not close. Rondo answered a huge driving layup by Jameer Nelson by jetting immediately to half court, whipping past two defenders and nailing an up and under reverse to match the bucket. He was in charge the entire time, never lost his cool (like he did last year), never lost track of where he was supposed to be.

The Magic tried doubling off the pick, bringing man-help, spacing to give him the mid-range, the works. It was like they wandered into some horror flick, and Rondo spent the better part of two hours picking them off one by one with a chainsaw.

Kobe Bryant scored 40 points last night in a brilliant performance which is not to be questioned. But if you’re looking at the best overall performance from baseline to baseline, the answer has been Rajon Rondo. Especially considering Rondo was finishing to Rasheed Wallace, Glen Davis, and Tony Allen several times. Rondo has become bigger than the Big 3, the thing you need to witness, and he’s two games away from tugging on Superman’s cape, ripping it off of him and strangling him with it.

It’s a revelation, a transcendence. I’m not exaggerating here, he’s honestly been that good.

And oh, by the way?

He’s 24 years old.

  1. ahem - May 19, 2010 at 2:50 AM

    rondo is quite special
    im an honest laker fan

  2. Rick - May 19, 2010 at 3:03 AM

    Rondo and his Big Green Geezers are showing the world how it’s done–with experience, guts and true teamwork. Hard not to root for ’em!

  3. 4Truth - May 19, 2010 at 3:57 AM

    That’s a real champion!
    Go Mr. Rondo!

  4. Foul Dwimmerlaik - May 19, 2010 at 7:22 AM

    First off, I’m a Laker fan. I want LA to meet this great Celtics team in the Finals. Only by beating the best the opposition can offer can one say that you’re the best among the rest. Well done, Rondo. Great job Celtics! Props to you guys. Now go for the kill and finish them off at the Garden. Brooms, anyone?

  5. Btween2worlds - May 19, 2010 at 7:53 AM

    Impressive, impressive, impressive
    and I’m not even a basketball fan…
    Superman, here comes Mr. Kryptonite!

  6. GRobb - May 19, 2010 at 8:07 AM

    I’m a Celtics fan (actually Garnett Fan) until he came to Boston. Now I’m all in. I still am for Garnett but I’m glad that Rondo is finally getting his props. Go Celtics!

  7. Lisa R - May 19, 2010 at 8:38 AM

    I knew Rondo was special when he was at Kentucky, but Tubby’s plow-like offense stifled his talent. The Big Blue Nation is very proud of Rondo–he’s doing what we knew all along that he could do.

  8. Anonymous - May 19, 2010 at 8:45 AM

    I don’t think Rondo is Boston’s “best” player, but he’s certainly their most valuable. His outside shot is very suspect, and down-the-stretch his free throw shooting has to improve. But he is the gas that makes the engine go, that’s unquestionable. Boston’s “best” player is still the three-headed monster. Even if this ends up being their last chance for another title, they’re fun to watch. This is how basketball should be played.

  9. graciebaby - May 19, 2010 at 9:50 AM

    Rondo is the man!

  10. Craig - May 19, 2010 at 10:35 AM

    It’s over! It would take a miracle of Biblical proportion for the Magic to come back. Get the broom and the dust pan to pick up the ashes. What a matchup it will be! Kobe, Fisher, Bynum, Odem and the rest of the Lakers should be very wary of the Celtics. I think this is one of the best teams the Celtics have produced in a long time, and one of the best finals games in a long, long time.

  11. HavlicekStoleTheBall - May 19, 2010 at 11:05 AM

    Rondo has played well and is a tough matchup for teams because of his speed and jumping ability. But mid-range game? He makes a 17 footer every second Tuesday. If he had a reliable jumper (Steve Nash-like, or Tony Parker-like) he would be as good as people think he is right now. Over a long stretch, when the Celts stagnate, it is largely because defenses drop off and pack the lane, taking away his drive. And he can’t make them pay often enough.

  12. Mosski - May 19, 2010 at 11:31 AM

    I am a big Celtics fan and a big Rondo fan, but I have to say watching Rondo take an uncontested 17 footer is like watching Dwight Howard at the foul line. Cringe ….. clank!

  13. ELLIOT TOMMY - May 19, 2010 at 12:59 PM


  14. Steven G. - May 19, 2010 at 1:47 PM

    I must agree with most of the other blogs posted here today. Rajon Rondo is the best player still in the playoffs without any question. He is so fast, so quick, he is playing like Superman. On defense he is there to guard/stop any player on the opposition which is unequaled in this sport. His force on offense from bringing the ball up, to passing like Brady or Manning, to utilize all of his teamtes and to be able to go to the hole is unparalelled. Given time I feel that his mid to long range jump shots will come, remember he is only in his fourth year in the NBA. Keep learning, be humble and most all remember your on a team.

  15. Booby - May 19, 2010 at 2:43 PM

    only in the fourth year of the NBA?
    remember back in the days, when players used to enter the league fundamentally sound with a solid range of polished basketball skills?

  16. Dalton - May 19, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    The first year of “the big 3” the Celtics called in one of those sports performance groups that works with Olympians, NFL etc. to evaluate their players. The objective was to measure athleticism. This would focus each players workout regimen on physical areas needing improvement.
    When it was over, Doc Rivers asked, “Who got the highest score?”
    “Rondo,” came the answer.
    Doc shook his head. “Rondo’s got the highest score on THIS team??”
    “No, he’s got the highest score we’ve ever seen!” was the reply.
    Well, we’re all seeing it now. And he has worked hard to add the skills to the obvious athleticism. A pleasure to watch him grow!!

  17. CaptFamous - May 19, 2010 at 5:49 PM

    This sounds a lot like someone who made up their mind about Rondo a couple years ago, and can’t be bothered to change it.

  18. HavlicekStoleTheBall - May 19, 2010 at 7:31 PM

    This season is where the second-half stagnation has taken place. Rondo’s jumper is awkward, and he has never developed a move by which to clear himself for it. That is likely due to his lack of confidence in his shot. With his speed, a jab-step power dribble would clear him for a 16-18 foot jumper whenever he wants it. Also, it is not an encouraging sign to have your budding superstar ball handler still shooting in the low 60s from the stripe. Lack of focus and practice there, too. The difference between being a good player playing great and being a great player is that the good player’s weak points will show up again, and the great player has very few weaknesses to show.

  19. r13 - May 20, 2010 at 10:03 AM

    Havlicek. You are accusing Rondo of being lazy, but you are too lazy to watch the game (or even highlights) from the other day. Game 2 vs. Magic. He nailed the 17 footer. Repeatedly. Everyone but you has noticed a mammoth improvement with his jumper, which could only have come from practice.

  20. loveme4ever - May 29, 2010 at 6:42 PM

    he the man

  21. lamontra - Sep 20, 2010 at 2:50 PM

    aynt nobody better than rajon rondo, he better than kobe kux the only thing kobe does better is dunk and shoot better than him but rondo kan steal he quicker he kan dunk he got great layup ability scores at will AND WILL DO ANYBODY OR SHALL I SAY ANY (POINT GUARD) UP DHATX IN DHA LEAGUE TODAY.. BKUX HE IX DHA BEST AND RONDO READ THIS. SHOOT MORE SHOTS AND DRIVE MORE DNT BALL HALK BUT SHOW MORE SHOOTIN AND DRIVIN SO U KAN PROVE TO ER BODY U DHA BEST PG DHAT EVER STEPPED FOOT IN DHA NBA N JUST BECOME MVP….

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