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Sixers-Celtics Game 7: Rajon Rondo when you need him

May 26, 2012, 11:56 PM EDT

Boston Celtics guard Rondo drives to the basket past Philadelphia 76ers guard Turner during the first quarter of Game 5 of their NBA Eastern Conference playoff series in Boston Reuters

There is an argument to be made that Rajon Rondo is the single most compelling player in the NBA, at least the one still playing in these now Conference Finals after the Celtics’ 85-75 win in Game 7 over the Sixers to advance to face Miami. And if anything, Game 7 reinforced that idea as he was cementing the Celtics’ place in the penultimate seven-game series of these playoffs. Rondo was 3-9 for 7 points through the first three quarters. He was sloppy. He was disinterested. He was all the things you worry about with Rajon Rondo.

And then, when Paul Pierce got his sixth foul late in the fourth, Rondo took over. Pierce picked up his sixth at the 4:16 mark. From then on, Rondo went 3-3 from the field, 4-4 from the stripe, scoring 11 points (of Boston’s final 14) and grabbing three rebounds on his way to being the only Celtic besides Larry Bird to snag a triple-double in a Game 7. Rondo can’t shoot, play off him. That’s the book. That’s the story. That’s the scheme.

And he just knocked them down.

There will be talk of the Celtics’ defense, which was its typical self against another terrible effort from the Sixers. There will be talk of KG’s intensity and Ray Allen coming alive. But the story, the obvious story that will be talked about because it is the story, is Rajon Rondo, and how when it looked like the Celtics might have another late collapse, he found the weakness in his game and turned it into a strength. But in reality, Rondo’s long two to really put the Sixers away is in the range he’s hit 4/7 in these playoffs, and shot 43 percent in the regular season. It was not a fluke. He can hit it. He did. He knocked down free throws, which is actually a bigger concern. And the Celtics are moving on.

Coming out of the first-round series with the Hawks, when Chris Bosh went down, it appeared like things were lining up for the Celtics to make a run to the Finals. Everything appeared set. An easy run against the Sixers, face a reeling Miami team or an out-classed Pacers team, get to the Finals and see what happens. The possibility is still there but the confidence is shaken. Ray Allen hit two big 3’s late. But he was 2-7 from three for the night, 3-11 from the field, and struggled to make cuts the night through. Paul Pierce has lost a step. Avery Bradley is out for the season. There are question marks about Greg Stiemsma and Keyon Dooling off the bench. There are reasons to doubt.

Which is why Game 7 encapsulates the Celtics and where they stand. The Big 3 will do some things, especially Kevin Garnett. They’ll provide some support. But against the Heat, as it was in Game 7, it will be on Rondo to make the plays, to make the decisions, to be greater. Last year he was taken out by a dislocated elbow when Wade pulled him down. This year, barring horrible luck, he’ll play. And he’ll have to be the difference for the Celtics if they want to get past the team that ushered them loose in five games last year.

But for now, it’s a win for the Celtics, another trip to the ECF, their third in five years of the Big 3 era, and a feeling that no matter how badly they play, they’ll find a way.

No matter how dark it gets, Rajon Rondo will find the light.

Celtics-Heat begins Monday.

  1. jucam1 - May 27, 2012 at 1:29 AM

    I see your still a clown Moore, way to give zero credit to an up and coming team that no one (especially your retarded self) gave credit to, the Sixers can’t shoot yet as a team, but with this defense and youth they’ll be strong for years to come, and your dismissal and hate for a great season by an under appreciated team shows how sad your “journalistic” skills are…. Congrats to a veteran Celtics team, we took it to you and your core came through like the former champions you are, what a great defensive series!

    • lucky5934 - May 27, 2012 at 5:02 AM

      Yes, I will grant you the 76ers are an up and coming team. But the story of this series is how an aging Celtics team played down to the 76ers level. Not the other way around. Blaming Matt Moore for their lack of quality support will get you nowhere.

      • tfoz5150 - May 27, 2012 at 8:59 PM

        C’mon. The C’s didn’t play down to any level. They are what they are. They narrowly beat the Sixers. Congrats to them. I hope they beat the heat.

  2. asublimeday - May 27, 2012 at 1:59 AM

    Awwww all those trash-talking punk sixer fans after the bulls series. Where you at? At home, same place the bulls are. Enjoy your lower draft pick, DB’s.

    • tfoz5150 - May 27, 2012 at 9:00 PM

      Yeah but we beat your team troll

  3. asublimeday - May 27, 2012 at 2:01 AM

    Celtics didn’t take them seriously until they had to. Philly had no business running with the big boys. They only ensured that they’ll get a lower draft pick and continue to revel in mediocrity.

    • 700levelvet - May 27, 2012 at 5:08 AM

      change your tampon sweetheart……

  4. doctorhoops - May 27, 2012 at 2:37 AM

    Later, some clown will say that Celtics could not win anything… This game was about Rondo, paying back Pierce for saving that game Rondo sat during the Hawks. Teams win games…

  5. mungman69 - May 27, 2012 at 2:54 AM

    Both teams played very hard. Sixers couldn’t score all season and the Celtics were the better team all season. Game 7 was just like the whole year. Now, can the Celtics beat a Bosh less Heat? No. Heat in 5.

    And they only let Matt Moore write on weekends. I can see why.

  6. edweird0 - May 27, 2012 at 3:35 AM

    “Last year he was taken out by a dislocated elbow when Wade pulled him down.”

    That sounds a bit accusatory to me…

    • lucky5934 - May 27, 2012 at 5:04 AM

      As well it should be. Perhaps it wasn’t fully intentional to dislocate the elbow, but it pulling him down definitely was.

  7. chandler455 - May 27, 2012 at 7:26 AM

    well i’m a C’s fan but….the Sixers got ripped off by the refs and the basketball gods. The refs were blatantly missing calls (especially in the first half). Rondo making basically two threes come on.. The C’s better start getting some offense or Miami will be a short series… Also Doc really should consider starting Pietrus instead of Ray Allen….better defense, no bum ankle, and he can hit the three…

    • bbgraf08 - May 27, 2012 at 9:09 AM

      You aren’t a Celtics fan.

      Pietrus shooting the 3 is generally cringe worthy.

      • chandler455 - May 27, 2012 at 1:58 PM

        obviously you dont know what you are talking about, pietrus .359 career 3pt shooter Allen .4 career shooter Pietrus is not cringe worthy from 3, he used to hit em for the magic consistently if left open. Know what you are talking about before you put down my comments

      • bbgraf08 - May 27, 2012 at 10:44 PM

        Pietrus has been clanging 3’s off the side of backboard while with the Celtics. I don’t judge him on his past, I just him on what he’s done with this team.

        He is no longer on the Magic, and you are incorrect. He’s been cringe worthy, especially in this playoffs. .273%, with a decent sample size.

        Sorry!

  8. 1972wasalongtimeago - May 27, 2012 at 7:53 AM

    Just hope our young and scrappy Heat can play hard, execute, and hope for the best. Rondo is awesome. Why they wanted to trade him I have no idea. And Pierce is a guy who scares me more than most. No Bosh. Going to take a miracle.

    • 1972wasalongtimeago - May 27, 2012 at 7:56 AM

      And don’t try to out reverse jinx me Anti-Heat fan.

    • drewzducks - May 27, 2012 at 3:04 PM

      Nice try. The “powers that be” have already declared the Heat a huge favorite -550 to win the series and 7.5 for game 1. Maybe the Celts can steal a game but that will be about it.

      • 1972wasalongtimeago - May 27, 2012 at 5:58 PM

        No No No No. I’ve already claimed Tbe “nobody believes in us” card for the Heat.

      • drewzducks - May 27, 2012 at 7:56 PM

        Alright. We can agree to defy logic and say that the Heat may have a chance to “shock the world”.

      • drewzducks - May 27, 2012 at 8:29 PM

        Ok we’ll let it slide and say that the Heat MAY have a chance to “shock the world” and beat the C’s.

      • 1972wasalongtimeago - May 28, 2012 at 12:39 AM

        Yes, it would be an upset of epic proportions.

  9. j0esixpack - May 27, 2012 at 8:20 AM

    Great series by the Sixers. One can make the case that the Celts didn’t truly take them seriously at times, but I think it’s more about the Celtics veterans unable to play all out every play given age and injury.

    Although the play could have been better, go down the box score and you’ll see this was a team victory. Even Allen contributed with a few second half baskets – perhaps a sign of coming out of his slump?

    They’ll need all hands on deck against the Heat. It’s less a question of whether the Heat can win without Bosh and
    More a question of whether the Celtics can win without Bradley.

    Those who know little about basketball will say “who?” but that was a more critical loss for the Celts than Bosh was for the Heat.

  10. BigBeachBall - May 27, 2012 at 8:22 AM

    any team that lets rondo hit jumpshots on them deserves to lose….

    • jimeejohnson - May 27, 2012 at 1:13 PM

      Think before you write: going out to guard Rondo on the perimeter invites him to drive around you for a higher percentage shot. The Sixers played the odds, and for most of the series, were right on the money. The Sixers didn’t “let” Rondo make those shots: they challenged him to make them, and sometimes, he did.

  11. jh4prez - May 27, 2012 at 8:38 AM

    RONDO WHY YOU LITTLE…?!

  12. lemfax - May 27, 2012 at 9:00 AM

    Hmmm.. (Boston)Big 4 maybe u can beat the Miami (big 3-1) but not the thunder with the big young 4 not to mentioned the SPURS… they got only one(1) big team + big one(1) coach, coz’ their going to sweep you guys…

  13. skizzy79 - May 27, 2012 at 9:53 AM

    I’m a sixers fan. Boston beat us fair and square yesterday. I don’t think the Celtics played down to our level though. What you see is what you get from Boston. They are a little older and without Allen being able to contribute things will be tough. Let alone the fact that they get virtually nothing from their bench. It was an ugly series to watch but I enjoyed it because I was accustomed to watching the Sixers play like that all season. I can’t wait to see what changes my squad will make to improve our offense and sure up things in the middle

    • scalfor3 - May 27, 2012 at 11:13 AM

      C’s fan and I completely agree. The level of play we saw in the series is the level of play the Celtics are capable of in their current state. No Bradley, very little from Ray, Pierce at less than 100%… This is what you get. Congrats to the Sixers, who took advantage far more than people thought they would. They proved they have a lot of heart, and the experience of these playoffs will go along way for a lot of those younger guys in the future. You guys are only a piece or two away from being a legit year-in, year-out contender

  14. trigzter - May 27, 2012 at 12:21 PM

    Lou Will needed to step his game up, and he didn’t. Your leading scorer needs to shoot better than 35% in the playoffs. With such a weak UFA class and draft, I don’t see how the sixers can improve for next year.

  15. jimeejohnson - May 27, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    Who’d have thought Celtics and Sixers fans would be congratulating each other? All that talk about how Boston and Philadelphia fans are the worst is just hate incarnate! I’m not a fan of either team but I am a culinary fan of both cities. Note to natives: lobster rolls and cheesesteak both benefit from avocado! By contrast, Miami has that excellent winter weather, but no signature food items. Looking forward to a very competitive Eastern Conference Finals (and Western Conference too).

  16. jucam1 - May 27, 2012 at 2:06 PM

    Hey “sublimeday”… The adults who made it this far are talking, so no comments from
    You and i hope you enjoy watching the Sixers and other “big boy” teams play, your team can have all the excuses they want but we beat your bulls and gave this C’s team all they could handle…. So you and your hate can eat it loser… Congrats to the C’s again…

    • neeciekay - May 28, 2012 at 2:33 PM

      Ok, I’ve had just about enough of you sixers fans talking about “beating” the Bulls. Can you honestly be proud of a win against a Rose-less/Noah-less/Injured Lououl Deng & gimpy Taj Gibson, bulls team? Really? I thought this message board was about the Celts eliminating the sixers on the back of Rajon Rondo?! At least that’s what the title of the article implies. Look Philly fans, your sixers got rocked and socked in game 1 against the Bulls, as they should have. No team with key injuries to their star players will go very far in ANY series. So, stop acting as if the sixers beat a legitimate Bulls roster, because they did not!! Even with 4 of our top performers out or seriously injured, game 6 still came down to a bone headed play by our 2nd string point guard. You philly fans are hillarious, bragging on a win over a team that had NO star players. . .I guess if I were a sixers fan, and used to losing all of the time, I’d be grasping for straws too! Go Celtics, beat the Heat!!

      • bleedgreen4life - May 28, 2012 at 5:46 PM

        I’d rather beat a team with no star players than lose to a team with no star players (sixers). The Sixers beat the bulls and took the Celtics to the brink. For a team thats young and inexperienced I’ll take it. Stop crying over the Bulls losing. Obviously Philly wouldn’t of beat the bulls if they had rose but they sure as hell would have had a shot even with Noah playing.

  17. mungman69 - May 27, 2012 at 4:20 PM

    OK, it’s my fault. When you read Matt Moore as much as I have you start to lose your mind.

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