It was apparent from get-go of last night's game that nothing was going to get in the way of the Celtics going up 3-0 in the series against the Magic. No one play can sum up last night's effort better than Rajon Rondo's dive for a loose ball in the second quarter.
With a little under nine minutes to go in the second quarter, Tony Allen deflected a J.J. Redick pass on the Magic's offensive end. As the ball bounced down the opposite end of the court, Jason Williams started to run it down. Unfortunately for him, Rondo was in hot pursuit as well. Rondo then dove for the ball past Williams actually reaching through his legs to get it, got up, and then finished by laying the ball in. The basket gave the Celtics a 36-17 lead and led to a Magic timeout as the Garden erupted.
This is the type of play that Celtics fans have grown accustomed to over the course of the season, and can look forward to for years to come out of one of the most exciting players to watch in the league.
"I just wanted it," Rondo said of the play. "I just wanted to make a play on the ball. I think he had the angle on me and I decided to dive for the ball, and it just so happened I came up with it, and made the play and scored the ball."
Kevin Garnett is one of the biggest Rajon Rondo fans out there, and that play only made him even more of a fan.
"I told him after the game when he was in the back, I told him that was probably the play of the playoffs to me," Garnett said. "That was just pure hustle. Pure hustle, pure basketball, pure I-want-it-more-than-you type of play."
Ray Allen is playing in his 14th NBA season. No doubt he has seen a lot of great NBA plays in his career and played against some of the best NBA players to ever play the game. It takes a lot to show him something he hasn't seen before, but that is exactly what Rondo did last night.
"It was probably one of the toughest plays defensively I've seen in my career," Allen said. "It's one thing to have the ball and make something miraculous happen, but not having the ball and making something miraculous happen, then score with it, that was awesome."
The Celtics were already up by a significant amount at the time, which makes the play even that much more impressive. Nobody would have thought much about it if Rondo had trotted out a little ways past half court to press Williams on the way back. Instead, Rondo proved once again that he's just playing with energy and heart that the opposition simply cannot match. It is plays like that that gets a team going, or in the Celtics case last night, keeps them going.
"If that doesn't give your whole team energy, nothing will," said Coach Doc Rivers. "I don't know if it bumped our energy; we were pretty high at the time. I didn't think he could get to it. It was him and Jason Williams. He's thinking, 'I got a chance with my speed'. But it was just an unbelievable play."
For Paul Pierce, the play was reminiscent of his college days.
"I just thought that was a spectacular play man," said Paul Pierce. "He was behind Jason (Williams) the whole way and it looked like Jason kind of sealed him and he just went to the ground."
"Kind of reminded myself of me when I was in college," Pierce joked. "We used to get plus points and we would get out of running drills if you dove for loose balls in college. So it kind of looked like some of the things I used to do. Not as much now because I don't get up as fast as he does, so it was a great play."
Perhaps Pierce can't get up as fast as Rondo does because Rondo isn't in fact human- if you ask Glen Davis anyways.
"That's huge," Davis said of the play, "where he's from, he's from Mars; he's a different player. For him to show the energy like that, we feed off things like that, so I tip my hat off to Rondo."