As much as I'd like to bottle what Rondo did in game 4 and have him drink it like a Red Bull before each game, I don't think you can ask that of anyone. What we can duplicate, however, is another team wide, winning effort on defense.
It is amazing how quickly we can forgive and forget the game 3 debacle. Aside from LeBron getting hot early and often, the main reason the Celtics lost that game is because they broke down defensively. The Cavs were hitting shots, but they were getting comfortable looks at those shots. Which is precisely what they were not getting in game 4.
Everyone seems to think that the Captain has had a bad series. Well, maybe offensively he hasn't played up to the level we've become accustomed to, but that's just one side of the floor. With all the weapons on our team I'm actually ok with Pierce being minimalized if it means that he's going all out to slow down LeBron.
Still, Pierce’s defense wasn’t the type of play that starts M-V-P chants. There’s no advanced metrics company that keeps track of passes denied. It was simply defense — a facet of basketball that goes largely unnoticed — and seeing Pierce, who’s made a living as a professional scorer, commit more of himself to defense is almost like watching him play the game in disguise.
Of course it isn't just Paul Pierce. There is Kendrick Perkins and Rasheed Wallace combining for an 0-5 from the floor performance that was still lauded by the coaching staff and fans alike. They limited Shaq and neutralized Varejao and generally made their presence felt in the paint.
Then there's the law firm of Allen & Allen. Taking turns being a pest to LeBron or by making the Cavs work on defense by constantly moving without the ball or driving the lane. And it doesn't hurt to have a guy like Garnett, who has forgotten more about defense than Jamison will ever know. Even Big Baby is contributing (remember that he got the steal that started the fast break where Rondo laid it back to Tony for the dunk).
Of course at the end of my list is the guy at the top of the key, Rajon Rondo. He needs to be able to keep Mo Williams or Delonte West from getting going from deep, because when they are quiet, he can roam and cause mischief (like say, collecting 18 rebounds and 2 steals).
I'm not expecting Rondo to duplicate his effort in game 4, but I am expecting the team to play with that kind of defensive intensity in game 5. And that will determine if we head back to Boston looking to close the series out or in a hole.