May 8, 2011, 2:15 AM EDT
Rajon Rondo has been the bellwether for the Celtics. When he is on his game, the Celtics offense flows. When he is off, the team is flat.
In Game 3, he wasn’t really on his game. But he became a Celtics legend, anyway.
He dislocated his left elbow in the third quarter in a gruesome injury. He came back and played the entire fourth quarter, scoring four points and added an assist and a rebound. His performance was at the heart of Boston’s 97-81 win.
The question now becomes can he do it again? Can the Celtics?
The injury happened when Rondo and Dwyane Wade got tangled up in the third quarter. Wade, falling to the ground, seemed to wrap his hand around Rondo, who tried to brace his fall with his left hand. The elbow couldn’t take it.
The injury was gruesome, with his elbow bending the wrong way. There was no way to watch the replay and not think he was done for the series, let alone the game.
Celtics medical staff thought the same thing, but they popped the elbow back into place. Which has to hurt. A lot.
But there was Rondo back out for the fourth quarter, a sleeve over his left arm (along with his customary sleeve on the right) and playing basically one-handed. He made both his shots in the quarter, and his steal at midcourt and layup was one of the best moments of the series.
Rondo was an inspiration on a night the Celtics needed it to stay in the series.
But now comes the real test, winning Game 4 and evening the series 2-2.
Rondo said after the game he would play in Game 4 Monday night. How well, how much he can do with his left arm, could be key because you know Miami is going to show no mercy and attack him. Test him. There is no mid-game adreniline to mask the pain. Boston got the win in Game 3 despite another unimpressive statistical night from Rondo, but it will be harder to do that in Game 4.
But Rondo is a Celtics legend. And those guys always seem to rise to the occassion.
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